By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Beginning the second half down by seven, condensing their fate down to 24 minutes of basketball, the Celtics played like a team truly fighting for their playoff lives, and blitzed the Heat for a series-extending 121-108 victory.
While this must-win came with the Celtics forcing some of the Heat’s best into early foul trouble, and with Tyler Herro limited compared to his white-hot Game 4 effort, a new hero seemed to be emerging in Duncan Robinson. Playing all but 1:58 of the opening two quarters, Robinson got off to a blistering start, with 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting, and with three connections from deep. Robinson even made the unlikely paths to the basket, namely storming the paint for layups, look easy.
It wasn’t the most inspiring start given the C’s expected level of desperation.
But that came in the third, with a 13-0 run, and a 20-3 run overall that gave the Celtics their first lead of the evening. And unlike Game 4, which saw a 120-point gap between Boston leads, and one that evaporated in the blink of an eye, the Celtics made sure they weren’t going to let this one go to waste.
Bullying the Heat for 41 points in the third quarter, and with Jayson Tatum scoring 17 of those 41, the Celtics carried a nine-point lead into the fourth. It only grew in the fourth, too, thanks to some gigantic three-point makes from Jaylen Brown, as the Celtics cruised to a 13-point victory over a frustrated Heat squad.
Tatum’s 31 led the way for the Celts, while Brown finished right behind him with 28 on 12-for-23 shooting. But it was Daniel Theis who played the role of unlikely hero in this one, with a double-double by way of his 15 points and 13 rebounds. Theis was also a gigantic factor in Boston’s improved pick-and-roll game, and finished with an on-court plus-16.
Overall, the Celtics had six double-digit shooters, with Kemba Walker (15), Marcus Smart (12), and Gordon Hayward (10) also contributing to the cause. Even Enes Kanter made the most of his limited minutes, with eight points in 10:09 of play.
With the win, the Celtics improved to 2-0 when facing elimination this postseason, which matches the total amount of elimination-game wins through Brad Stevens’ first five postseasons on the job.
Game 6 will have a 7:30 p.m. tipoff this Sunday.