Abused at the start of Game 5, the Boston Celtics gained momentum, taking the measure of the Miami Heat (121-108) and returning to three wins to two in this final of the Eastern Conference.
Boston has yet to say its last word in the Eastern Conference final against the Miami Heat. Friday night, the Celtics were able to find the solution, after the break, to largely dominate Miami (121-108) and return to three wins to two in this series. The first twenty minutes, at the end of which Miami led by twelve points (40-28), had not hinted at such an outcome. Thanks to Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson (14 and 17 points respectively before the break), the Heat seemed to have taken control of the game. The franchise’s first NBA Finals since 2014 (and the departure of LeBron James) seemed close at hand.
But Boston showed some signs of life before returning to the locker room, including good minutes from Enes Kanter (8 points, 4 rebounds and 2 assists in 9 minutes). And then, after the break, a transformed team returned to the floor, finally giving the impression that they were aware that their season was being played there. “The defense started things and then we had very good offensive streaks,” said Brad Stevens, Boston coach.
Only 19% three-point success for Miami
Jayson Tatum has moved up a gear in this second half (with 17 of his 31 points in the third quarter alone). Daniel Theis has finally weighed on the meeting, especially against the zone defense of Miami. The German was even rewarded with a nice double double (15 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks as a bonus). Opposite, except through the personal exploits of Goran Dragic (13 of his 23 points in this 3rd period), Miami found itself without any real solution in attack, nor spring to respond to the opposing physical challenge. The 41-25 conceded in its twelve minutes was fatal to the hopes of the Floridians, unable to pick up at the end of the match.
For 25 years, the Boston Celtics had never recovered from such a significant delay (12 points) in a play-off match where they risked elimination on Friday against Miami (40-28, 20th).
With a Tyler Herro who was no longer on fire from the previous match (14 points), a Butler limited to three points in the last three periods, the big rebound losses (28-12 in this area in favor of the Celtics after the pause) and the awkwardness behind the arc of a circle (19% success at three points, 7/36), Miami had too many handicaps to hope to finish this series. The Heat will have another opportunity to do so on the night of Sunday to Monday.