Celtics-Heat takeaways: C's overcome ugly start to win Game 5 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics are one win away from the NBA Finals.
After a sluggish first half of Wednesday night's Game 5 vs. the Miami Heat, the C's pulled away in the third quarter and piled it on in the fourth to earn the 93-80 victory. They held Miami to 31.9 percent shooting (30-for-94) from the field and 15.6 percent (7-for-45) from 3-point range.
Boston exploded for 66 points in the second half after totaling 42 in the first two frames. Jaylen Brown (25 points) and Jayson Tatum (22 points) overcame their first-half woes to help the Celtics cruise to another lopsided win. Al Horford also was a key contributor with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Bam Adebayo led the underwhelming Heat offense with 18 points. Jimmy Butler's struggles continued as he scored only 13 points on 4-of-18 shooting.
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The C's will have a chance to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals in front of the TD Garden crowd on Friday night. Here are our takeaways from their Game 5 victory.
A tale of two halves
The Celtics were a mess to begin this game. Their stars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, combined to shoot 3-for-16 (19 percent) from the floor in the first half, their worst combined field goal percentage in any half this season. Brown turned the ball over four times in the first quarter alone, and the team had 10 turnovers in the first half.
Fortunately for them, the Heat weren't much better. They scored 28 of their 42 first-half points off Celtics turnovers or second-chance opportunities. When they weren't capitalizing on the C's mistakes, their offense was virtually non-existent. Those struggles carried into the second half and Boston took advantage.
Tatum ended up with 22 points (18 in the second half) after going scoreless in the first quarter. The 2021-22 All-NBA First Team selection also had 12 rebounds and barely missed out on a triple-double with nine assists. His shoulder issue appeared to be nagging him throughout Wednesday night's game, but the fact he shook it off for a big second-half performance is encouraging.
Brown dropped 19 of his 25 points in the second half and didn't turn the ball over in the final two quarters. He helped the Celtics pull away by shooting 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, with this emphatic dunk on Bam Adebayo as the icing on the cake.
After that abysmal first half, Tatum and Brown combined for 33 points on 13-for-18 shooting the rest of the way.
Al Horford, Derrick White step up
When Tatum and Brown couldn't find their groove, the supporting cast needed to carry the load to keep it close. Veteran big man Al Horford and backup guard Derrick White did just that.
The legend of "Playoff Al" continued as Horford was the leading scorer before Tatum and Brown got hot. The 35-year-old finished with 16 points, seven boards, five assists and two blocks. According to StatMuse, he now has the highest +/- (+130) in the 2022 NBA playoffs.
White also provided a spark when Boston needed it most. Marcus Smart, returning from a right ankle sprain, found himself in early trouble and gave White an opportunity to shine. He ended up leading all scorers with 11 points at the half, then finished with 14 points (6-8 FG) and five assists.
Smart, meanwhile, didn't look 100 percent. He had five points (1-5 FG) and four assists in 24 minutes. It'll be worth monitoring his status for Game 6 in Boston.
Heat have no answer for Robert Williams
Robert Williams' presence is key to Boston's championship aspirations, and we were reminded why once again in Game 5. The Celtics big man continues to deal with a sore left knee but still made the most of his 27 minutes on the court.
Williams had six points, 10 boards and three blocks while locking up Heat big man Bam Adebayo. Miami went on an 0-for-10 stretch from the field when Time Lord was contesting their shot attempts.
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said earlier in the series Williams will be day-to-day the rest of the postseason as he manages his knee soreness. Boston will hope to have him in the lineup when they try to finish off the Heat on Friday night.