The Boston Celtics haven’t exactly been elite this season when it comes to preserving big leads. During Thursday night’s Game 5, however, they couldn’t have been better in that category.
Boston built an early 20-5 lead and never let go of the rope the rest of the night. The Celtics responded at every moment to maintain a double-digit lead through the final buzzer while closing out a 110-97 victory.
The team’s most critical response of the night came at the end of the first half, when this game could have either remained comfortable for Boston, or it could have became dicey. The C’s made sure it was the former.
Boston’s 18-point lead dropped down to 12 following of a timeout at the 2:59 mark of the second quarter. Jimmy Butler converted on a three-point play and Miami seemingly had life. The Celtics needed to close out the quarter strong to maintain their momentum, and that’s exactly what they did.
Derrick White responded on Boston’s next possession with a 3-pointer to bump the lead back up to 15. All told, the Celtics went on to rattle off an 8-0 run overall to push their advantage to 20, their largest of the game to that point, with 1:31 remaining in the half. The only points scored from there on out before the halftime buzzer were two free throws from Jimmy Butler.
That stretch of play was absolutely critical for Boston. It maintained momentum heading into halftime and, in the long run, secured the victory in Game 5.
Jayson Tatum. Stat stuffer.
Instead of dropping 51 points in a do-or-die game, he instead spread the wealth throughout his box score line. It started with his 21 points on 50 percent shooting, and it carried through to his game-high 11 assists, his eight rebounds, and his two steals.
What a performance.
Tatum opened the game with 12 points during the first quarter, including a monster slam dunk, to build a world of momentum for Boston. He finished it by dishing out nine assists over the final three periods.
This was a high-level, all-around performance during which Tatum read the game perfectly. Boston would certainly welcome more of the same during Saturday’s Game 6.
Box Score Nuggets
- Four Celtics scored between 21 and 24 points: Derrick White (24), Marcus Smart (23), and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (21 apiece).
- No Heat player scored more than 18 points, with Duncan Robinson leading the way in that category.
- Robinson also led the Heat with nine assists.
- Tatum led the game with 11 assists.
- Boston scored 27 points off of Miami's 16 turnovers.
- The C's shot 50.6 percent from the field and 41 percent from long distance.
- Both teams made 40 field goals, yet the Celtics won by 13.
- Al Horford led the game with 11 rebounds.
- Tatum and Brown each scored 21 points on 50 percent shooting (8-for-16 for Tatum, 9-for-18 for Brown).
- Boston forced Bam Adebayo into a game-high six turnovers.
Quote of the Night
"It started on defense. We set the intensity, and we came out and played good basketball tonight, and it looked fun out there."- Jaylen Brown on what led to the Game 5 victory