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Thursday night in the 2023 NBA Playoffs saw the Boston Celtics stay alive longer with a dominant wire-to-wire win over the Miami Heat in Game 5. The Celtics led by as many as 24 points in the 110-97 victory to force a Game 6 this weekend.
All Boston Right Away
The Celtics found their 3-point shot in Game 4 to stay alive, but the real test was going to be carrying it back to Boston for Game 5. The Celtics left no doubt they could do it early as the home crowd fed on every early 3-point shot in a dominant first quarter that saw Boston take a 35-20 lead.
The Celtics were 7-of-12 from 3 in the first quarter. The Heat did not shoot poorly, but 10 early turnovers on the heels of 9 turnovers in the second half of Game 4 led to a huge deficit that the team was just not able to overcome.
It was a late scratch on Thursday when starting point guard Gabe Vincent was announced out with injury for Miami. Kyle Lowry was a veteran replacement, but he had a very passive game, taking just 5 shots and scoring 5 points with 1 assist. Lowry’s defense also was not good, allowing the Celtics to blow right by him on several occasions.
Jimmy Butler also never got comfortable and finished with just 14 points. The Heat still shot 51.3% from the field, so it was not a poor shooting night overall. But the 3-point game did not work out (9-for-23), Duncan Robinson led all scorers with 18 points, and the 16 turnovers were a problem.
Can Boston Pull This Off?
Remember, teams down 3-0 are 0-150 at winning the series. Boston is halfway back, but it will have to shine on the road in Game 6 after getting many good efforts from its players in Game 5.
Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points, but it was good to see him shoot 50% percent from the field and 3-of-6 from 3 as his shots had not been falling in the first four games.
Derrick White was on fire with 6-of-8 from 3 and scored a game-high 24 points as one of four Boston players to top 20 points. Marcus Smart had 23 points and Jayson Tatum scored 21 with 11 assists.
After not making more than 11 3s in the first three games of this series, Boston has made 18 and 16 3s in the last two games, which is how this team usually wins this year. The Heat will need to do much better and treat Game 6 as their Game 7, because they are not going to want to come back to Boston after getting crushed early and never making the second half competitive.
This is only the second series in NBA playoff history where a team without homecourt has gone up 3-0 and had to host a Game 6 after dropping two in a row. We will see if Miami can get the job done in Game 6 or if the Celtics can make history.
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