For the past two games, the Boston Celtics have clobbered the Miami Heat by a combined score of 195-162. The Celtics are now one win away from an appearance in the NBA Finals, while the Heat are on the brink of elimination.
Miami held a 42-37 lead heading into halftime, as the Celtics committed 10 turnovers and allowed the Heat to grab nine offensive rebounds. The Heat scored 16 second-chance points and 12 points off turnovers in the first half, which added up to over half their point total. However, once the Celtics cleaned up their mistakes in the second half, the Heat couldn’t keep up.
After the game, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra commented on the brutal loss. He stated that the Heat shouldn’t be making any excuses for Game 5, as Boston was simply the better team.
“Look, we’re not going to make any kind of deflection or any kind of excuse,” Spoelstra explained. “Boston beat us tonight. And let’s be clear about that. There’s guys that are far from 100% on both sides, and that’s why this is just intense competition. It’s playoff basketball.”
Boston outplayed Miami in every aspect of the game, especially in the second half, where they outscored the Heat 56-38.
Celtics Dominated Miami in Second Half
After a rough first half, the Celtics turned things around in the second half, dominating the Heat. Head coach Ime Udoka spoke about the turnaround after the game, saying that the biggest changes were cleaning up the turnovers and denying offensive boards.
“What was important is that we cut down the turnovers, cut them half, only the five and second half, and only eight second-chance points,” said Udoka. “And that’s where you get the result. 38-point half, holding them to 80 points.”
The Celtics cut down their turnovers from 10 in the first half to just five in the second half. In addition, Miami’s points off turnovers decreased from 12 to five. Boston also only allowed Miami to score eight second-chance points in the latter half of the game. They still gave up 10 offensive boards, but Miami shot 2-for-9 on second-chance opportunities.
In addition to cutting down on turnovers, Boston also benefitted from Jaylen Brown turning things up in the second half. After a rough start to the game, Brown played extremely well in the third and fourth quarters.
Brown’s Strong Second Half
Udoka talked about Brown’s second-half improvements during his post-game press conference. He said that the key to Brown improving his play was to control the ball better, revealing the message he told the Celtics All-Star after his turnover-filled start to the game.
“You’re acting like you’re surprised that they’re reaching and poking it from behind,” Udoka stated. “It wasn’t as much like live-ball turnovers just trying to make a nice pass, it was literally getting taken from us. So, be strong with the ball. It’s five games now. We’re having way too many of these types of turnovers, not being strong with the ball in the crowd. He understood that.”
Brown accounted for four of Boston’s 10 turnovers in the first half, consistently losing the ball whilst driving to the hoop. He also shot 2-for-7 from the field, scoring six points and recording zero assists. That all changed after halftime, though.
In the second half, Brown dropped 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 from deep. He also did that without turning the ball over a single time, as he was able to find his handle a bit. Brown even managed to throw down what might be the dunk of the playoffs so far.
Boston will now head back to TD Garden in hopes of wrapping up the series. One more win will send them to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2010.
Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be this Friday at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.