It wasn’t pretty, but the Boston Celtics defeated the Miami Heat 93-80 in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead thanks to a turnover-free second half from Jaylen Brown. With the huge road victory, the Celtics are one win away from clinching the Eastern Conference title and securing a berth in the NBA Finals.
This series began with a zig-zag pattern over the first four games, with teams alternating victories. Oddsmakers projected the zig-zag would end in Game 5, with the Heat installed as a slight home dog against the Celtics
The series returns to Boston for Game 6, where the Celtics have a chance to win the Eastern Conference championship on their home court. Oddsmakers installed the Celtics as a -9 favorite heading into Game 6 on Friday night.
The Celtics are -1200 odds to knock the Heat out and win the Eastern Conference crown. The Heat are +750 odds to pull off a sick comeback by winning the next two games. The Celtics improved to +125 odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship while the Heat saw their odds tumble to +2500.
Celtics: sloppy win
Game 5 was very close for most of the first three quarters before it headed toward blowout territory once again. The Celtics led Game 5 by as many as 23 points in the fourth quarter before a late rally from the Heat came up short.
It began as a sloppy and lo-fi affair. The Celtics were ice cold from 3-point range, but the Heat struggled to find buckets.
“We weren’t playing our best, in a lot of ways,” said Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. “Sometimes, all it takes is one guy getting back to his average game.”
The Heat trailed 59-58 with 2:44 to go in the third quarter before the Celtics unleashed a 10-0 run to end the quarter and surge ahead to a double-digit lead. At the start of the fourth quarter, the Celtics extended their lead to 23 points with back-to-back 3-pointers from Jaylen Brown.
The Celtics’ run ballooned to 24-2 with Jimmy Butler accounting for the Heat’s only bucket in a six-minute stretch. Although the 23-point lead would be the largest lead of the game, the Celtics still cruised to a 13-point victory.
Brown coughed up the ball four times in the first quarter, but didn’t commit any turnovers in the second half. He scored 16 of his team-high 25 points after halftime.
“Just had to get settled in, that’s it,” said Brown. “As the game wears on, some of that energy, some of that intensity starts to wear off, so the game opened up for me in the second half.”
“With our guys, we’re always confident they’ll get it going and figure it out eventually,” added Udoka.
Jayson Tatum missed a triple-double with 22 points, 12 rebounds, and nine assists.
Heat: ran out of gas
The Heat stole a page out of the Celtics’ playbook and they jacked up 45 3-pointers. The plan didn’t work because they hit just seven of them for a 15.6% success rate. Duncan Robinson and Max Strus missed seven treys each. Gabe Vincent missed six, Kyle Lowry clanked five, and Jimmy Butler and PJ Tucker both missed four. Victor Oladipo shot blanks with three misses.
“We are not going to make any kind of deflection or any kind of excuse,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “Boston beat us tonight. And let’s be clear about that. There’s guys that are far from 100% on both sides.”
The Celtics outscored the Heat 32-16 in the third quarter to bust the game wide open. The Heat never recovered, even though they tried to shoot their way out of a 20-plus point deficit.
Adebayo led the Heat with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Gabe Vincent added 15 points off the bench. Butler, nursing a sore knee, missed 14 shots and scored just 13 points. A banged-up Lowry missed all six of his shots and scored zero points in 25 minutes.
The Heat’s starting backcourt of Lowry and Strus both nursed hamstring injuries and shot blanks all night long. Lowry and Strus were 0-for-15 from the floor and combined for 12 missed treys.
Despite being down 3-2 with Game 6 in Boston, the Heat aren’t giving up just yet.
“We’re still lining up,” said Adebayo. “We’ve still got to play these games. We still want to win.”
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