The Boston Celtics managed to avoid being swept in the Eastern Conference Finals with a clutch win in Game 4. While Jayson Tatum led the way, the Celtics relied on the first proper team performance of the series to avoid crashing out.
However, they were far from safe. The Miami Heat still lead 3-1 and have three more chances to secure a showdown with the Denver Nuggets in the NBA Finals. Jimmy Butler and the other leaders of the Heat squad shrugged off the loss and chalked it up to the unpredictability of the playoffs. "If anything, it will build momentum for us knowing that we have to play with a lot more energy," Butler said. "We've got to play like our backs are against the wall. But I think all year long, we've been better when we've had to do things the hard way."
Heat Drops Game 5
The Celtics came out of the gate hot and lead by 15 at the end of the first. Every time the Heat scored, the Celtics would just re-establish the lead. While Miami didn't let the game get away from them in the second, they still trailed by 17 at the half. The second half followed much of the same pattern, with the Heat never able to find a scoring run that would get them back in the game. The Celtics led by 18 heading into the final quarter. While the Heat were able to add some garbage time points, the game had long been over by that point. The Celtics sent the series back to Miami with a 110-97 victory.
It was an embarrassment of riches for the Celtics, with four starters scoring at least 20 points. Meanwhile, the Heat failed to even have one starter reach 20 points. However, the Heat are struggling to refind their rhythm with two key starters in Gabe Vincent and Tyler Herro sidelined by injury. Duncan Robinson, who played 28 minutes off the bench, led the Heat in scoring with 18 points. Meanwhile, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for 30 points. The other three Heat starters combined for 14. While the Heat still have two opportunities to close out the series, they need to find an answer for the reinvigorated Celtics offense.
The series returns to Miami for Game 6 on May 27.