Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said the team can't afford to change its mindset despite taking a 3-2 series lead over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night.
Tatum pointed to the Celtics' own example from the previous round, where they trailed the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks 3-2 before coming back to win the series, as an example of why it's important to close things out as soon as possible.
"The mindset and the talk that we had after the game was we was down 3-2 last time, had to go on the road and win a Game 6, and we did," Tatum told reporters. "We can't think that it's over with. We need to go back home like we're down 3-2, with that sense of urgency that it's a must-win game, not relaxing because we're up."
Boston almost let Game 5 slip away in the first half with some ugly stretches offensively. It finished the opening 24 minutes with 10 turnovers while shooting just 38.2 percent from the field.
The team's vaunted defense managed to keep it close, though. The Celtics held the Heat to 37.5 percent shooting before halftime, which kept Miami's lead at a manageable five points, 42-37.
Tatum helped lead the second-half surge with 18 points, eight rebounds and four assists after the break to help the Celtics pick up a 93-80 win. Jaylen Brown, who tallied six points and four turnovers before halftime, also came alive with 19 points and no turnovers over the final two quarters.
"I didn't want to get down. I didn't want to look into the past, think that this game was over. My team needed me to come out and respond," Brown said. "First half was s--t. Threw it away. [Just] come out, play basketball in the second half."
In addition, the defense continued to swarm, holding the Heat to 12-of-46 shooting (26.1 percent) in the second half.
Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said his only message to the team after the loss was to "bring this thing back on the 29th," referring to the date of a possible Game 7.
"You've got to enjoy this," Spoelstra said. "You do. You know, if you want to break through and punch a ticket to the Finals, you're going to have to do some ridiculously tough stuff. Getting on to Boston and figuring that out collectively, those are the emotions and the breakthroughs that you have that you remember the rest of your life."
Wednesday's win gave the Celtics a chance to close out the series at home, though. It's a chance for the team to clinch its first trip to the Finals since 2010.
Game 6 is scheduled for Friday at 8:30 p.m. ET at TD Garden.