Celtics-Heat score, takeaways: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum take over the second half in Boston's Game 5 win

The Boston Celtics followed up their dominant Game 4 performance with a second straight commanding victory over the Miami Heat in Game 5 on Thursday night. Led by Jaylen Brown (25 points, four rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (22 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists), Boston pulled out a 93-80 victory to take a 3-2 lead in the series and push Miami to the brink of elimination.

The Heat actually led the game at halftime, but the Celtics completely flipped the script over the final 24 minutes of action and outplayed Miami on both ends of the floor to close out the contest. In addition to Brown and Tatum, Boston also got some big-time contributions from Al Horford, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Derrick White (14 points, five assists). Now, the Celtics sit just one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 2010.

Boston will look to close out the series in front of their home crowd in Game 6 on Friday night, while the Heat will look to bounce back, extend their season, and force a decisive Game 7. Before moving ahead to Game 6, though, here's a look at four key takeaways from Boston's Game 5 victory.

1. History is on Boston's side

Game 5 has proven to be a pivotal game in a best-of-seven series, especially when the series is tied at 2-2 after four games. Historically, teams that win Game 5 in that scenario go on to win the series nearly 82 percent of the time. That number is pretty staggering, but it makes sense, as the winner of Game 5 is afforded two opportunities to get one win, while the loser of Game 5 must win two straight to save their season. That's the situation facing Miami now. They must win two in a row, or their current campaign will come to a close. History isn't on their side, but it's not an impossible feat that they face, as it has been done before. Clearly, Boston will want to take care of business at home in Game 6 in order to avoid a do-or-die Game 7 in Miami. 

2. Where was Jimmy? 

Jimmy Butler has clearly established himself as Miami's best player and go-to guy, but he has been a no-show for the Heat over the last three games of the series. After scoring just 14 total points in Game 3 and 4 combined, Butler mustered just 13 points in what amounted to be Miami's most important game of the season. He took 18 shots, but made just four of them, and he connected on just one of his five attempts from long range.

In addition to just missing shots, there was an overall lack of aggression from Butler, illustrated by the fact that he took just four total free throws in the game. This is a guy that can typically get to the foul line at will, but he just wasn't in attack mode. Maybe he's dealing with injury issues, or maybe he's just running out of gas after a long season, but the Heat aren't going to win many games -- and they certainly won't win the series -- with Butler playing as poorly as he did in Game 5.  

3. A forgettable game for Lowry, Strus 

Kyle Lowry has been dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the postseason, but he played in Game 5 against the Celtics, and he was downright bad. In 25 minutes of action, Lowry went scoreless, as he missed all six of his field goal attempts. He didn't do much, if any, playmaking either, as he finished the game with zero assists. His highest counting stats were turnovers (3) and personal fouls (5).

It's clear that Lowry's not at 100 percent, but few players are at this point in the season, and if he's out there playing, injury shouldn't be used as an excuse. If he is hampered that badly, he probably shouldn't even be out on the floor for Miami, because he certainly didn't help much on Tuesday night. 

It didn't help Miami's cause that the player starting alongside Lowry in the backcourt, Max Strus, also missed every single shot that he took. Together, the duo went 0-of-15 from the floor. Per ESPN, that's the worst shooting performance from a starting backcourt in a playoff game since starters were officially tracked in 1970-71. It's hard to pull out a win when your two starting guards don't make a single shot. 

4. Heat historically bad from long range

If you were watching this game and felt like the Heat couldn't throw a beach ball into the ocean, you were onto something. As a team, Miami took 45 3-pointers, and they made just seven of them. That equates to 15.6 percent. That's the second lowest percentage for a team in NBA playoff history with at 40 or more attempts.

When a team is shooting so poorly from long range, you would think at some point they would alter their approach and try to get more drives to the basket, but instead the Heat just seemed content to continue to let it fly, and that's certainly part of the reason that they lost. 

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WED 8:30 P
MIA +3.5, o203.5
ESPN
MIA 3.5, O/U 203.5

Season Leaders

points
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J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
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J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
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J. Butler27.4 PTS, 4.6 AST, 7.4 REB
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J. Butler27.4 PTS, 4.6 AST, 7.4 REB
assists
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J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
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J. Tatum25.6 PTS, 6.2 AST, 6.7 REB
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K. Lowry7.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 3.6 REB
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K. Lowry7.8 PTS, 4.7 AST, 3.6 REB
rebounds
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A. Horford12.0 PTS, 3.3 AST, 9.3 REB
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A. Horford12.0 PTS, 3.3 AST, 9.3 REB
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B. Adebayo14.8 PTS, 2.7 AST, 8.0 REB
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B. Adebayo14.8 PTS, 2.7 AST, 8.0 REB
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The best duo left in the NBA

Stephen Curry is a legend. Luka Doncic is a prodigy. Jimmy Butler, when healthy, is dominant. But no team left in the playoff field has a 1-2 punch quite like Boston's. When Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are as dominant on both ends of the floor as they were in the second half, there really aren't a lot of people who can play basketball with them.

May 26, 2022, 3:56 AM
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You can say that again

Jaylen Brown's first half wasn't always pretty. He committed four turnovers in the first half, and in the process looked like he might throw the game away as he did Game 3. But while taking many of the same shots he did in the first half, Brown scored 19 second-half points to finish with a game-high 25. That seems to be the difference in this series. Miami can bother Boston for a half. Boston can bother Miami for entire games.

May 26, 2022, 3:49 AM
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From one hero of the supporting cast to another

In many ways, Derrick White had a very Al Horford-esque game. Most of what he did was subtle. He set up teammates and defended and made the smart plays, but when his team needed offense in the first half, he gave them 11 of their first 27 points. The truth is, virtually any member of Boston's rotation can have a game like that. When everyone defends and shoots, anyone can be the hero. Both Horford and White earned hero status for this one.

May 26, 2022, 3:39 AM
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Bad shooting luck

Honestly, coach Spoelstra might have a point. The Heat are one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the NBA. Getting 45 of those shots isn't a bad thing. They weren't getting to the rim as readily, but the jumpers they were able to generate were still occasionally clean. Boston's defense was the catalyst here, but to some extent, the Heat were missing shots they shouldn't have missed. Given their injury limitations, it's hard to object too much with their process.

May 26, 2022, 3:31 AM
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Turning defense into offense

"When we get those stops and get out and run - we're kind've a lethal team," says Celtics coach Ime Udoka. He's got a point. Boston's first-half offensive struggles were in many ways a result of the sort of game they were playing. They were slow and deliberate, trying to beat the Heat the hard way. Once they started playing with pace in the second half and turning Miami's mistakes into points, they blew the game wide open.

May 26, 2022, 3:24 AM
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Miami's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad shooting night

Let's look at Miami's 3-point shooting by the numbers:

  • The Heat made just 15.6 percent of their 3's (7-of-45). That is the second-lowest percentage any team has shot from behind the arc this postseason, trailing only the Phoenix Suns in Game 3 of their first-round series against the New Orleans Pelicans (4-of-26, or 15.4%).
  • This was Miami's worst shooting night of the season. The Heat never shot below 20% on 3's in a game before tonight.
  • The Heat haven't shot this poorly from behind the arc in a playoff game since 2016, when they had an astounding 1-of-15 performance against Indiana.
May 26, 2022, 3:21 AM
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Three down, one to go

The Celtics needed to win a game in Miami to win this series. They've now done just that. Game 5 is in the books and the Celtics have won, 93-80. Now the Celtics can finish this thing off in their own building, and the odds say they'll do just that. Boston is 40-4 when leading a series 3-2. They'll try to make it 41-4 on Friday.

May 26, 2022, 3:06 AM
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Freezing cold

I'd tell Heat fans to avert their eyes for this stat, but I'm guessing they're already well aware: In the last two games, Kyle Lowry and Max Strus are shooting a combined 1-for-28 from the field, including 1-for-19 from 3-point range. Not great!

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An old friend says hello

In another world, Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid might still be contending for titles together. Alas, despite Butler's publicly stated desire to return to Philadelphia in 2019, he landed with the Heat, and as it stands right now, both he and Embiid look like their teams are going to come up just short. Embiid and Butler both signed extensions last offseason. They probably aren't going anywhere. But man, it's hard to see a tweet like this and not wonder what might have been if they'd stayed together.

May 26, 2022, 2:54 AM
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Jimmy Butler, where you at? 

There's no reason to dance around this. Jimmy Butler has been bad the past three games. He might be dealing with injury issues, but he's out on the floor so there's no excuses. After scoring 14 total points in Games 3 and 4, he has just 11 points tonight while shooting an anemic 4 of 17 from the floor. The Heat simply aren't going to win the game -- or series -- with Butler playing this poorly. He gets his fair share of praise as a player, but now he's deserving of some criticism. 

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An extended run

In the last 5:55, Miami has one field goal: a jump hook by Jimmy Butler over Grant Williams. Boston is on an 18-2 run in less than five minutes. If the Heat are going to turn this around, they need to start now.

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A good bad game

There's a certain kind of bad game that's exclusive to the NBA's best players. It comes on those nights where the shots just aren't falling, and the star in question needs to find some other way to grind out points for his team. Jayson Tatum couldn't hit the broad side of a barn for most of the game, so he racked up 10 assists and seven rebounds. He found other ways to help his offense. Now the shots are going in, and the Celtics have a 17-point lead. Eventually, that's what tends to happen. You can't hold down a scorer like Tatum forever. But being a scorer is one thing. Being a superstar is another. To get to the level Tatum hopes to reach, you have to be to affect the game when you aren't racking up the points. That's what he's done tonight, and it's looking like it will send Boston home with a 3-2 lead.

May 26, 2022, 2:40 AM
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Brown goes off!

Jaylen Brown had some rough turnovers earlier, but he just led the Celtics on a 10-0 run to end the third quarter. Found Grant Williams for a corner 3, then treated Gabe Vincent like he treated Patty Mills and Seth Curry in the opening round, targeting him and simply rising over him for a pair of midrange jumpers. Brown had some rough turnovers earlier, but he's now a game-high +14 in 29 minutes.

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Lowry having a forgettable game 

Kyle Lowry has been dealing with a hamstring injury throughout the postseason, but he's playing in Game 5, and if he's going to be out there, he's got to be better for Miami. He's played 21 minutes so far, and he has zero points to show for it. He's missed all five of his attempts from the floor, and he's not doing much else, either, as he doesn't have any assists. His two highest stats for the game are turnovers (3) and personal fouls (4). 

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Thunder vs. Lightning

This is a fascinating lineup contrast here. Miami, with no viable backup center, has the 6-5 P.J. Tucker in during Bam Adebayo's rest minutes. Boston, meanwhile, has two centers in: Robert Williams and Al Horford. Considering their perimeter size, they're going to have a chance to physically take advantage of the Heat here, but the Heat have much more speed on the floor. Both sides are taking a gamble hoping for some momentum. We'll see who it pays off for.

May 26, 2022, 2:16 AM
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Tatum, the creator

After Jayson Tatum was named First-Team All-NBA, a reported asked Jayson Tatum at this morning's shootaround how he has improved this season. "I think playmaking, just being able to read the game a lot better," Tatum said. "It slowed down for me in a lot of ways and I think it's shown just with my playmaking abilities and kind of running the offense at times and things like that." Tatum hasn't shot the ball well tonight (2-10 FG, 1-5 3PT), but he has 7 assists. Miami has been loading up against him all series, so those assist opportunities will continue to be there.

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Not so average Al

Once upon a time, there were Celtics fans that grumbled about Al Horford's max contract and called him "Average Al." Most of the time, he's not much of an individual shot-creator. He wants to set up shop at the elbow or behind the arc and pass and screen for his teammates. But boy, has Horford brought it when his team has needed it. His 30 points in Game 4 of the Bucks series saved Boston's season. He leads the Celtics with 15 thus far, and he's their only player attacking the basket consistently. He may not be an every-night scorer, but he's saved his best for when it matters most.

May 26, 2022, 2:13 AM
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That's foul 

Marcus Smart picked up two fouls to start the game and two more to start the third quarter. He picked up both of the recent ones the exact same way: trying to take a charge against Max Strus. No sign of Derrick White in the third quarter just yet, so it appears that Ime Udoka is going to trust the Defensive Player of the Year to play through the foul trouble for now.

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Strus struggling 

Max Strus has had a rough go of it in Game 5 so far. In 15 minutes, Strus has missed all of his attempts from the floor. He's 0-for-7 from the field and 0-for-5 from long range. If there's any silver lining to his performance thus far it's that he's gone 4-4 from the foul line. 

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Update on Robert Williams

Boston's starting center is back on the bench at least. He is not checking into the game yet, but that is at least a positive sign, though we don't know anything definitive.

May 26, 2022, 2:02 AM
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Williams is in for Williams

A quick lineup note: Grant Williams has started the second half in place of Robert Williams the III. It does not appear as though Robert Williams is on the bench. He has been dealing with a knee injury throughout this postseason, so it's possible that he is dealing with pain right now. We'll keep you posted as we learn more, but strategically, this changes a lot for Boston. Time Lord is Boston's vertical element. Grant is more of a shooter.

May 26, 2022, 2:00 AM
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A first half first

Per the broadcast, Game 5 is the first game in this series where there hasn't been a double-digit lead at halftime, either way. The Heat lead by 5, 42-37. Hopefully the rest of the game remains close, too. 

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Yuck, cont'd

I must share the halfcourt scoring numbers from the first half, per the website Cleaning The Glass.

Celtics: 71.4 points per 100 plays

Heat: 64.4 points per 100 plays

(How is Boston trailing? Well, the Heat have rebounded a third of their misses and have a 16-2 advantage in second chance points.) 

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This is the game Miami wants to play

For four games, Boston has been the better half-court game in this series. That was largely to be expected. Boston's half-court defense was historically dominant in the second half of the season, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown gave them shot-creation that the Heat, injured as they are, simply lack right now. Miami's path to victory was by simply generating more shots, and more easy points, than Boston. Well, it's halftime, and Miami leads 42-37 because it has taken 14 more shots than Boston (48 to 34). The Heat have won the turnover battle by three and the offensive rebounding battle by seven. That's the difference. Both teams are playing great defense. Miami is turning their defense into offense.

May 26, 2022, 1:45 AM
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Turnovers adding up for Boston

Turnover trouble has been a theme for the Celtics in this series. They had 23 turnovers in their Game 3 loss, and they're well on their way to another 20-plus turnover game. With 2:35 remaining in the first half, Boston has 10 turnovers, compared to seven for Miami. Jaylen Brown has been the main culprit with four turnovers himself. 

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The stars aren't shining

Jimmy Butler and Jayson Tatum are a combined 3-for-16 from the field thus far. That's not all that surprising. Butler came into this game with a knee injury. Tatum has seemingly aggravated the stinger he suffered in Game 3 on several occasions. With Jaylen Brown turning the ball over left and right and Bam Adebayo contained by Boston's ferocious frontcourt, it's looking more and more like this is going to turn into a role player game. One of the lesser-known Celtics or Heat players is going to win this game.

May 26, 2022, 1:38 AM
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Fred VanVleet, 2.0?

Remember in the 2019 playoffs, when Fred VanVleet had a child and suddenly became completely incapable of missing shots? Well... we might be witnessing something similar here in Game 5. Derrick White missed Game 2 due to the birth of his son. It's taken a few games, but White is suddenly playing the best offense of his life. He has 11 of Boston's 27 points and hasn't missed a shot yet. 

May 26, 2022, 1:32 AM
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Cleaning the glass, cont'd

Miami has seven offensive boards and 12 second-chance points. Boston has 2 offensive boards and two second-chance points. This is not a small thing! The Celtics would be up by five right now if first-chance points were the only ones that counted. 

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Duncan Robinson getting some early run

Duncan Robinson's playing time in this series -- and in the postseason as a whole -- has been inconsistent. He played a total of 18 minutes over the first three games against Boston, and then he played 23 largely garbage time minutes in Game 4. He's getting some early run in Game 5, as he's played eight minutes (and counting) in the first half. He's knocked down one of his three attempts from long range so far. 

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