Celtics settle down, win game 5 to extend ECF

By Brendan Beauregard

And just like that, the Celtics are back. After a disastrous game 4 loss to the Miami Heat, the Celtics rallied and got back to playing their style of basketball last night as they beat Miami by a score of 121-108 to force a game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Down as much as 12 in a sluggish first half, Boston pulled a Jon Snow and came roaring back to life in the second half. The Celtics outscored Miami 41-25 in the third quarter with Jayson Tatum dropping 17 of his team-high 31 points during the frame. Alongside Tatum, Jaylen Brown scored 28 points with 18 of his points coming in the second half.

“We were trying to win the game in the first half,” Brown said after the game. “We just needed to settle down a little bit, and when we did, shots started going down.” 

Brown is 100% right with that one. Once the Celtics calmed themselves and locked in during halftime, their shots went down and then some.

Adding to that, Boston scored 56 points in the paint, an offensive strategy that worked here just as it did during their game 3 win. Similar to what Christopher Walken famously said on Saturday Night Live, Celtics fans have a fever and the only prescription is more points in the paint.  

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On the defensive side, Boston was able to batten down and hold Miami from coming back. Holding them to under 20% shooting from beyond the three-point line, the Celtics snuffed out a key piece of Miami’s offensive strategy. Boston also limited the impact of Miami’s top players, with Heat guard Goran Dragic fouling out of the game and Duncan Robinson shooting a frosty 1-6 from the field and 0-5 from three-point land in the second half after scoring 17 points in the first two quarters.

“I thought we played with great tenacity defensively,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said postgame when talking about Boston’s performance. “And I think our offense followed suit.”

You know who also had a solid game on both ends for Boston? Daniel Theis. The big man contributed everywhere on the floor for Boston with 15 points, 13 rebounds, and 3 blocks, and may this writer add, the highest offensive rating out of Celtic starters with a 136 rating.

“Any time Theis is great, it’s great for our team,” Jaylen Brown said last night when asked about Theis’s impact.  “He probably doesn’t get the credit he deserves, he has a tough job every night so big shoutout to Theis.” Big shoutout to Mr. Theis indeed.

As Brad Stevens said to his team during the game last night, Boston looked like they were playing Celtics basketball for the first time in a while. They answered adversity’s knock at the door with a relentless attack on the rim, turned over the ball less than they did in game 4, and were a brick wall defensively. 

Jaylen Brown said it best last night, the Celtics looked like the team they know they are. If Boston keeps rolling with that intensity and style of play, who knows what could happen come game 6 Sunday night. Celtics in 7.