Celtics thrive on 3s, beat Heat 110-97 in Game 5 to extend Eastern Final

BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Celtics have watched elimination face four times this postseason and still haven’t blinked.

Derrick White had 24 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Celtics outscored the Miami Heat 110-97 Thursday night in Game 5 to extend the Eastern Conference Finals.

Marcus Smart had 23 points and five steals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points apiece as the Celtics won their second straight series and cut Miami’s lead to 3-2. The Celtics are halfway to becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

“We have to do whatever it takes to win,” White said.

Boston also survived two second-round playoff games against the 76ers. Teams that fell 3-0 are 0-150 all-time in the series.

“It just says we have our backs to the wall and stick together and compete at a high level to give ourselves a chance,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Game 6 is Saturday in Miami.

“We’re always going to stay positive, knowing that we can and will win the series,” the Heat’s Jimmy Butler said. “We just have to shut it down at home.”

A day after the Florida Panthers secured the franchise’s first ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1996, for the second game in a row, the Heat were denied a spot in the NBA Finals.

“One game doesn’t lead to the next game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ” It does not matter. It’s about preparing and collectively mounting a great match. We will play much better on Saturday. That’s all we need to focus on right now.

Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 18 points. Bam Adebayo added 16 points and eight rebounds. Butler had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists, but missed the game’s final 9:47. Caleb Martin finished with 14 points.

It was Butler’s lowest-scoring playoff game. He had 16 points in Game 3, a blowout victory for Miami.

Miami never led and had 16 turnovers.

“I don’t want to say we’re surprised by it, but they’ve raised their level,” Robinson said. “We also need to increase ours now.”

Boston entered the day just 4-5 at TD Garden this postseason. But with a raucous crowd behind them, the Celtics thrived on their energy.

They dove for loose balls, beat Miami for rebounds and found themselves for layups and dunks in transition as they built up to a 20-point lead in the first half.

The Heat cut it, but Boston went on to knock down 3 seconds and increased their lead to 96-72 in the fourth quarter.

Boston fans fired up a “Beat the Heat!” chant that hadn’t been prevalent since the first game.

The Heat launched Kyle Lowry at point guard after Gabe Vincent was ruled out with a sprained left ankle earlier in the day. It was Lowry’s first start since Feb. 2.

Vincent, the Heat’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs, was injured late in Miami’s Game 4 loss when he landed awkwardly trying to save a stray ball near the Heat bench.

His presence was missed as Miami struggled early on the offensive end, overrun by a Celtics defense that forced the Heat to 10 first-half turnovers that led to 17 Boston points. Lowry played 31 minutes, scored five points and finished with four turnovers.


Heat: Were outscored 13-0 in second-half points through the first 24 minutes.

Celtics: It was the first time this season Boston had four 20-pointers. … Al Horford added six points and 11 rebounds. … The Celtics took a 61-44 halftime advantage. … Boston’s first game turnover didn’t come until 8:16 into the second quarter.


The Celtics got the quick start they were hoping for in front of their home crowd.

Smart stripped Adebayo on Miami’s opening possession, triggering a quick break and a layup at the other end by Tatum.

Then, with the game tied at 4, Tatum broke free in the lane for a monstrous two-handed dunk. He clung to the rim afterwards and continued his celebration when he landed, resulting in a technical foul.

That didn’t stop the Celtics’ momentum, with their first-quarter lead reaching 23-7. Boston finished the period with a 35-20 lead, punctuated by a 3-pointer from White at the buzzer.

Tatum had 12 points in the first 12 minutes as the Celtics beat the Heat 21-6 from beyond the arc. Boston hit 7 of 12 attempts.

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Celtics Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, NCAA President Charlie Baker and New England Patriots Matt Slater and Devin McCourty were among several celebrities in the garden.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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