The Boston Celtics were in an unenviable position going into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. Thanks to rookie guard Tyler Herro, who scored 37 points for Miami in Game 4, the Celtics were down 3-1 after the first four games.
That said, the Celtics needed a win to keep their season alive. Early on though, Boston wasn’t playing like a team facing elimination. They missed 11 of their first 12 attempts from the field and shot a woeful 5-for-20 from the field in the opening stanza. Boston also committed four turnovers during that stretch.
Although they trailed by a 58-51 margin going into halftime, the Celtics turned things around in the second half, and in a big way. In fact, they started the third period on a 20-5 run, turning a seven-point deficit into a 71-63 advantage. The Celtics went on to outscore the Heat by a decisive 41-25 edge in that frame.
This was highest scoring output by the Celtics in any quarter this postseason. And more important, the outburst gave them a 92-83 lead going into the final 12 minutes of action.
Given the fact that the Celtics have had a difficult time closing out games, the outcome was still somewhat in doubt. There would be no letdown this time around as the Celtics went on to win this one 121-108.
Jayson Tatum paced the Boston Celtics with a game-high 31 points. This includes 17 points in the game-changing third quarter. Jaylen Brown — who shot 4-for-10 from 3-point range — also contributed 28 points in a game the Celtics had to have.
“Boston played great in that second half,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told ESPN. “They deserved and earned what they got. We understand how tough it is to win in the playoffs. We did not compete hard enough defensively and we paid the price for that. But you do have to credit Boston. They played with great force.”
Thanks to that great force Spoelstra mentioned, the Celtics kept their season alive. Being that we’ve seen the Denver Nuggets come back from a pair of 3-1 leads in these playoffs, the Celtics haved potentially positioned themselves to do the same.