NBA: Boston Celtics stay alive against Miami Heat, regain 2-3 mark in best-of-seven series
Boston made 16 3-pointers in a dominant 110-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday that kept the Celtics alive in the NBA championship quest.
For the second straight game, the Celtics fought back from elimination, cutting the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals to 3-2 with a wire-to-wire win.
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Miami will have another chance to close it out when they host Game 6 on Saturday. The Celtics will try to go one step further to become the first NBA team to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
“The only thing that can stop us is us,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said in an on-court interview.
Before a raucous, raucous crowd at Boston’s TD Garden, the Celtics looked every inch the favorite they were before the series began, before the upstart eighth-seeded Heat clinched the first two games in Boston and then embarrassed the second seeds in Game 3.
Four Celtics starters scored 20-plus points, with Derrick White leading the way with 24 on a night in which he made 6-of-8 shooting from 3-point range.
“I had some good looks and I was able to knock them down, and I just rolled with it,” said White, who said the Heat’s defensive focus on Brown and fellow star Jayson Tatum gave him more room to operate.
Marcus Smart added 23 and had five steals, while Brown and Tatum each had 21.
More importantly, the energetic Celtics harassed the Heat on 16 turnovers that led to 27 Boston points.
They had 17 second-chance points compared to Miami’s seven.
“Tonight we were the tougher playing team,” Brown said. “We set the tone from start to finish.”
Boston was locked on both ends of the court from the start, roaring to a 23-7 lead within minutes.
After Tatum was called for a technical foul with 8:43 left in the first quarter, the Celtics responded with three straight 3-pointers.
Tatum scored 12 points in the first quarter and Brown took over with 12 in the second.
Meanwhile, Heat talisman Jimmy Butler had trouble getting going, scoring eight points in the first half and finishing with 14, his lowest-scoring game of the playoffs. He was out for most of the fourth quarter.
Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 18 points off the bench. Bam Adebayo scored 16 points but coughed up six turnovers.
Kyle Lowry, starting at point guard after Gabe Vincent was ruled out with a sprained ankle, scored five points on four turnovers.
“We just have to play better,” Butler said. “Start the game better, in the headlines, make it more difficult for them.
“They’re in rhythm from the start of the game,” Butler added. “But we will always stay positive, knowing that we can and will win this series. We’ll just have to close it at home. “
Butler said the Heat allowed their shooting problems to affect their defensive intensity.
“But that’s easily correctable,” he said. “You just have to go out there and play harder from the jump.”
The Heat, who won the NBA title in 2006, 2012 and 2013, only need one more victory to reach a seventh NBA Finals.
Boston, whose 17 NBA titles are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in history, last won it all in 2008 and came up just short in last season’s championship series against the Golden State Warriors.
The series winners will play the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets, who swept the Lakers in four games to reach the NBA Finals for the first time.
White said the Celtics expect a formidable challenge in Miami on Saturday.
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“The crowd is going to be on it. It’s not going to be easy,” she said. “It’s going to take 48 minutes of battling, scratching, scratching, and we’ve got to find a way to win.”
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra wasn’t concerned that two big losses had demoralized his team.
“Who cares about the mood?” Spoelstra said. “We have a twisted group. It’s a competitive series. You always expect things to be challenging in the conference finals.”
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – AFP)