Jayson Tatum has been here before, leading in the conference finals only to see his chances of success snatched from his grasp.
So, with the Boston Celtics holding a three-two advantage over the Miami Heat, Tatum is making sure nobody begins to look ahead to the NBA finals because nothing beyond their next game is promised at this level, regardless of the momentum the Celtics currently hold.
Speaking to the media following his team’s second straight victory over the Heat, Tatum shared some information regarding the team’s mindset in the locker room and how they’re planning to approach a potential close-out game six on May 27.
“The mindset and the talk that we had after the game was that we were down three-two last time (against the Milwaukee Bucks), and we had to go on the road and win a game six, and we did it. We can’t think that it’s over with. We need to go back home like we’re down three-two.
Have a sense of urgency like it’s a must-win game, not relaxing because we’re up. Because it’s possible, we did it last series. Knowing that talking about that, not being satisfied, knowing we’ve still got things to clean up, we still need to play better, and the job’s not finished yet,” Tatum told reporters.
Derrick White Comes up Big in Game Five
Since joining the Boston Celtics at the February 10 trade deadline, Derrick White has struggled to show his true value, in part because he’s still transitioning onto a new team and learning the finer details of their offensive and defensive gameplan.
However, in game five, White came off the bench to give Boston an immense boost, both in energy and execution. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that he was the best player on the floor throughout the May 25 contest. White was quick with his decision-making, aggressive with his shot profile, and played some lock-down defense on the Heat’s perimeter players while also providing the team with 14 points, five assists, two steals, a block, and an assist on 75% shooting from the field.
Speaking to reporters after game five, Al Horford took some time to praise White’s performance, noting that his impact is what gave the Celtics a boost – especially after the team started slow out of the gates.
“Derrick White, for us, was unbelievable tonight. He was great. His energy, his activity, just such a smart player – made really big plays. People probably won’t talk about it enough, but for me, he was huge. The minutes that he gave us and the impact he had on this game,” Horford told reporters.
Miami’s Half-Court Offense is Hurting Them
Coming into this series, it was clear the Heat’s best chance of dominating their matchups would come in transition. Boston is one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, excelling in shutting their opponents down on the perimeter. Unfortunately, Miami’s half-court offense is rather limited due to their lack of true offensive creators, both in the starting lineup and off the bench.
Now, with Jimmy Butler looking like a shadow of the player we saw to start the series and Tyler Herro missing the last two games via injury, Miami’s ability to generate offense outside of transition looks almost obsolete.
Suppose Herro misses game six and/or Butler continues to struggle with fitness and form. In that case, the Heat will struggle to regain a foothold in this series, and Boston will likely progress onto the NBA finals, giving themselves six days of rest as a byproduct. As Joel Embiid noted on Twitter, ‘Boston just has too many weapons,’ and if Miami is unable to match their offensive prowess, this series could be heading for its conclusion on May 27 at the TD Garden.