The Boston Celtics kept their season alive by defeating the Miami Heat 121-108 in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday in ESPN's Walt Disney World Complex near Orlando, Florida.
Boston outscored Miami 41-25 in the third quarter to turn a 58-51 halftime deficit into a 92-83 lead into the fourth. C's forward Jayson Tatum scored 17 of his game-high 31 points in the third, including Boston's final 11. Jaylen Brown added 28 points on 12-of-23 shooting overall.
All 10 starters scored in double digits. Goran Dragic led Miami with 23 points, and Heat swingman Duncan Robinson added 20 (12 in the first quarter).
Boston now trails Miami three games to two in the best-of-seven series.
Heat G Goran Dragic: 23 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds
Heat F Duncan Robinson: 20 points, 2 rebounds, 1 steal
Heat F Jimmy Butler: 17 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists
Celtics F Jayson Tatum: 31 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists
Celtics G Jaylen Brown: 28 points, 8 rebounds
Celtics C Daniel Theis: 15 points, 13 rebounds
Tatum Propels C's To Victory With Excellent Third Quarter
Tatum took control of Game 5 by posting 17 points and six rebounds in the third quarter with his team's season on the brink.
Down seven entering halftime, the C's could have wilted in the third as they've done numerous times this postseason. Such an effort on Friday would've very likely cemented Boston's season given the seven-point halftime deficit.
However, Tatum had other ideas en route to crushing the Heat and allowing Boston to fight another day.
The ex-Duke star calmly knocked down a huge three to cap a 7-0 run and provide Boston with a 71-63 edge:
He executed this smooth move prior to a silky mid-range jumper to put Boston up 11 later on:
And the third-year pro also helped turn great defense into offense by finishing this layup to give Boston a 14-point advantage:
All of Tatum's 17 third-quarter points came in the last 7:19 of the frame, with the final 11 occurring in the last 3:09.
Tatum's effort put him in great company, as C's play-by-play announcer Sean Grande noted:
Backed by Tatum's scoring eruption, the remaining Celtics did their parts.
Brown had an excellent game himself his 28 points, including 12 in the fourth.
Daniel Theis dropped a 15-point, 13-rebound double-double, Kemba Walker dished a team-high seven assists and Marcus Smart did a little of everything as usual with 12 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
The story of the night was Tatum's effort, however, and the Celtics will have another chance to extend the series on Sunday.
3-Point Woes, Rebounding Differential and Fast-Break Opportunities Doom Heat
The Heat made just 7-of-36 three-pointers (19.4 percent) compared to Boston's 12-of-38 outing (31.6 percent), which isn't a very good mark but proved fine enough to outpace Miami beyond the arc.
Boston out-rebounded Miami 50-38 and controlled the glass 13-6 on the offensive end. And the Celtics outran the Heat as well, scoring 17 fast-break points compared to Miami's six. All three facets led to Miami's demise.
Other factors contributed as well.
Tyler Herro came back to Earth with 14 points (five of which came in garbage time) after scorching the planet with 37 points in Game 4.
Bam Adebayo had a relatively quiet scoring night with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting (albeit with eight assists), and he put the loss on his shoulders, per ESPN's Malika Andrews:
And the Heat didn't get much from the bench outside Herro, with seven total points on 3-of-8 shooting.
Still, three-pointers, rebounding and fast breaks were the primary culprits on this night.
Robinson was hot early, knocking down a pair of threes and scoring 12 in the first quarter:
But he got cold after the first quarter and finished just 3-of-11 from deep. The rest of the team went 4-of-25.
On the boards, Daniel Theis was a consistent problem, but perhaps no more than the fourth quarter, when he pulled down seven boards.
Keith Smith of Yahoo Sports and Celtics Blog shouted out his play:
And the Celtics simply crushed the Heat in transition, with Law Murray pointing out a notable statistic and ESPN's Zach Lowe mentioning it as a difference in a second half where Boston outscored Miami 70-50:
That was it for the Heat, who trailed by seven or more points for the entire fourth quarter and by double digits for the last eight-and-a-half minutes.
The Heat and Celtics will play Game 6 on Sunday at 7:30 p.m. ET. ESPN will televise the game.
A Heat win will match them with the Western Conference Finals winner (either the Los Angeles Lakers or Denver Nuggets) in an NBA Finals matchup that will start at a to-be-determined date and time. ABC will televise the entire series.
A Celtics win forces a Game 7 that will occur on Tuesday at a to-be-determined date and time.