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The Celtics Dominated The Second Half To Take A 3-2 Lead On The Heat

Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals finally produced a bit of drama, as there were multiple lead changes in the game, something that had not happened since the first quarter of Game 2.

Unfortunately, the reason the game was close was that neither team could successfully put the ball in the basket, with Miami taking a 19-17 lead after one quarter and then a 42-37 lead into halftime. Leading the charge for the Heat was Bam Adebayo, who had 10 first half points and, briefly, looked to be in the attacking mindset Miami desperately needed from him.

For the Celtics, it was all about the defense as they couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half as Jaylen Brown continued to struggle with his handle and turnovers, while Jayson Tatum looked to be bothered by his right shoulder issue, as a number of his shots came up short to open the game. While their stars scuffled out of the gates, it was the return of Robert Williams that helped keep them close thanks to some sensational blocks and defensive rotations.

Boston came out on an 8-0 run to take the lead back in the third quarter, with the most impressive play coming from Al Horford who stole the ball and then went 1-on-3 for an and-1 bucket.

Miami would claw their way back into the game thanks to a spark from Gabe Vincent, who keyed a run alongside Duncan Robinson that pulled the Heat to within one on a few occasions.

However, all that hard work would be for naught as Boston closed the quarter as they started it, with a 10-0 run this time to push their lead to 11 going into the final quarter, as Brown started to heat up.

That run continued to be a 24-2 run across the end of the third and start of the fourth that saw Boston take a one-point lead all the way out to 23, as Tatum joined Brown in picking things up offensively.

The Heat would eventually find a bit of footing and claw their way back into the action, but Brown and the Celtics were too much for them to ever get close enough to really look like a threat to win the game.

The story of the game was Miami’s inability to do anything offensively, as their starting backcourt continued to provide nothing, as Kyle Lowry and Max Strus went a combined 0-for-15 for four points — after going 1-for-13 in Game 4. With those two unable to hit shots, the onus fell on Jimmy Butler to create and he continues to look less than 100 percent as he battles through his knee issue, going 4-of-18 from the field and, like most of the rest of the Heat team, looking way off on a number of shots from the perimeter. Adebayo led Miami in scoring with 18 points, but he tapered off after a hot start and looked far too passive during the Boston run that saw the game get put away. In total, Miami shot 31.1 percent from the field including a horrific 7-of-44 (15.9 percent) night from three-point range.

The Celtics defense deserves plenty of credit for their efforts, but some of it was flat out dreadful shooting from Miami when they did get good looks. Their star duo picked up their play at the right time, combining for 47 points in the game and carrying the load down the stretch as they pulled away in the fourth. Brown finished with 25 points while Tatum had 22 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists, finding ways to create good offense in the second half even as his shooting touch was a bit off. Al Horford and Derrick White combined for 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting to give the Celtics enough of a well-rounded performance to outclass the Heat in what became a 93-80 win.

The series now heads back to Boston with the Celtics up 3-2 looking to close things out and reach the NBA Finals for the first time since 2009, with Miami desperate to find something offensively if they’re going to force a Game 7 back in South Florida.

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