MIAMI – The Boston Celtics found themselves five points behind the Miami Heat in the halftime of the 5th game of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday night.
And yet, the Celtics felt fine. They could not have played much worse in the first half, making 10 errors and leaving nine offensive rebounds in Miami – something that allowed the Heat to make 14 extra shots.
“We did not play better, in many ways,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “Sometimes, all it takes is a man to get back to his midfield.”
No one played worse than Jaylen Brown. He took 2-for-7 off the field and made four caps – all in the first quarter.
Then began the second half. And, as it turned out, Brown ended up being the face of the team’s upset.
Brown’s second half with 19 points and 0 points – combined with 18-point second half by Jason Tatum – allowed Boston to finally open a rock game in the first half as the Celtics won 93-80 Over the Heat, bringing Boston to another victory since its first trip to the NBA Finals in 12 years.
“The same player,” Brown said from the first half to the second. “I just had to settle down. That was it. As the game ends, some of that energy, some of that tension starts to wear off, so the game opens up a bit. The game opened up for me in the second half.
“I did not want to go down. I did not want to look at the past, to think that this game is over. My team needed to go out and answer.
“The first half was s —. He threw it away. [Just] go out, play basketball in the second half “.
It was unclear if Boston could really follow Brown’s instructions after another bad basketball game in this series for the Celtics in the first half of Game 5. The difference from the other times Boston derailed it the turn, however, is that the Celtics did not allow the Heat to open the game.
On the contrary, things were just as bad on the part of the Miami Accountant. While Tatum and Brown combined to go 10-to-33 in the first half, and the Celtics threw the ball around, Miami could not hit anything either. His main backcourt with Kyle Lowry and Max Strus combined to go 0-for-15 from the court and 0-for-12 from the 3-point range for the game. Jimmy Butler, playing with a knee problem, finished just 4-to-18. And, overall, the Heat finished a sad 7-for-45 from the 3-point range.
“You have to enjoy this,” said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. “You do. You know, if you want to get through and win a ticket to the Finals, you have to do some ridiculously difficult things. To get to Boston and understand it collectively, these are the feelings and the discoveries that you have and you remember. “Bring the rest of your life back to 29. That’s what we talked about in there.”
It was a game that, like the rest of this series, will never be called beautiful. But for the Celtics – a team that has built its remarkable mid-season upset around a suffocating defense – it was the latest example of the physicality they were proud of throughout the playoffs.
“I believe that the mental stress and pressure we put on some teams with our defense has worked and led us to the playoffs from time to time,” said Udoka. “You saw in the Brooklyn line, the kids started to wear out. Game 7 [last round against the Milwaukee Bucks, Giannis] Antitokunbo slowed down some. But continuing to throw people all these bodies wears them down physically and mentally, making it difficult, as long as we do not give them easy baskets in the transition.
“With our children, we are always confident that they will succeed and that they will eventually understand.”
Brown and Tatum definitely did it in the second half. After those first few games, Brown spent the last three quarters without a turnover. And, in a game that shouted for someone – anyone – to take a shot after that first half brick festival on both sides, Brown got on the plate in the second half.
He made the last shot of the third quarter (a hard bucket in the middle range) and the first of the fourth (triple on the wing) to push Boston to a double-digit lead for good. He made sure to stay there, scoring 13 of his points in the fourth quarter in a 5-to-6 shot.
“Once the kids are settled, they continue to be aggressive, stop flipping the ball,” Brown said. “We gave them a lot more shots than we had in the first half. We were five with less. We knew that if we took care of it, we would have some open opportunities and we would knock them down.
“So keep playing basketball, be aggressive. That’s why basketball is 48 minutes.”
It was a similar upheaval for Tatum, who repeatedly grabbed his shoulder throughout the first half, as he clearly suffered from a nervous breakdown short of him in the fourth quarter of the third game.
But Tatum continued to try to play with others in the first half and ended the night with 22 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in more than 44 minutes, as – like Brown – he finally picked up the pace in the second half. proceeded.
“Yes, it bothered me,” Tatum said. “It simply came to our notice then.
“Obviously, they are a very good team. Both teams play hard, they compete and so on. But the kids like it. [Derrick] White, obviously [Marcus] Smart was out there, just his presence, and JB made some great shots. “Everyone contributed from the beginning to the end.”
Now the series returns to the TD Garden, where Boston – on its sixth trip to the congressional finals since the last time it made the NBA Finals – will have the opportunity to finally take that final step in its league round. championship.
But after a playoff run that has already seen so many upsets for the Celtics – including a comeback from the exact same deficit – the Heat are in, losing 3-2 on the road in Game 6, to beat the Bucks in the conference semifinals – – Boston knows that its work is not over yet.
“The mentality and the discussion we had after the game was that we lost 3-2 last time, we had to go out on the road and win a game 6, and we did,” Tatum said. “We can not believe it is over. We have to go home as if we lost 3-2, with the sense of urgency that it is a game we have to win, not relaxing because we are promoted.
“It’s possible [for Miami to come back]. Obviously, we did it in the last series, so knowing that, talking about it, obviously enjoying this series, but we are not satisfied knowing that we still have things to clean up, we still have to play better. The work is simply not over yet. “