For one half, Game 5 was the closest game of the Eastern Conference Finals so far. The Celtics then pulled away in the second half, going on to win 93-80.
Both teams came out sluggish, perhaps due to the intensity and condensed schedule of this series. The Celtics led 11-6 at the first TV timeout, as the two sides shot a combined 34 percent from the field to begin the game. Miami went on a 9-4 run out of the break, although the scoring pace didn’t increase much. Neither team crossed the 20-point mark in the first quarter, with the game 19-17 Heat after 12 minutes.
The pace didn’t pick up much in the second quarter. Heading into halftime, neither team was shooting over 40 percent from the floor. At the break, Miami led 42-37.
Coming out of the break, the Celtics put together an 8-0 run. They did that with Grant Williams on the floor in place of Robert Williams, who started the half on the bench. That kicked off a strong third quarter for the C’s, who stretched their lead to a game-high seven points during the frame.
That lead continued to grow late in the quarter, up to 11 points. In a series where single quarters have decided entire games, the Celtics ran out to a 32-16 advantage in the third, while Miami shot 4/of-23 from the floor. Heading to the fourth, Boston was up 69-58.
To start the fourth quarter, the Celtics picked up where they’d left off. An 8-2 run started the quarter, which grew to a 14-4 run that put the Celtics up 22.
Miami responded with a 14-6 run to get back within 13 with four minutes to play. That proved to be too little too late though, as the Celtics steadied for the final minutes and never let the deficit drop back to single digits.
After a shaky first half, Jaylen Brown scored 19 points in the second half, including 13 in the fourth quarter. He finished with a game-high 25 points on 10-of-19 shooting, and shot 5-of-9 from deep.
Tatum flirted with a triple-double, and ended up scoring 22 points with 12 rebounds and nine assists. Al Horford and Derrick White were the only other Celtics to finish in double-figures, with 16 and 14 points respectively. Robert Williams gave the C’s six points, 10 rebounds, and three blocks.
With the win, the Celtics are now one victory away from the Eastern Conference Finals. They’ll have a chance to punch their ticket on Friday in Game 6 at TD Garden. Pregame coverage of that one begins at 8 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub and the 98.5 The Sports Hub Celtics Radio Network, leading up to tip-off at 8:30.