Celtics force series back to Miami as they inch closer to NBA history

Derrick White had 24 points, including six 3-pointers and Boston Celtics They dominated the Miami Heat 110-97 on Thursday night in Game 5 to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Marcus Smart had 23 points and five steals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points each as the Celtics claimed their second straight win and layup Miami leads the series 3-2,

This kept alive Boston’s hopes of becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3–0 deficit to win a series. Prior teams in that position are 0–150 all-time.

Game 6 is Saturday in Miami.


Jason Tatum #0 high fives Grant Williams #12 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter against the Miami Heat in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden on May 25, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddy Meyer / Getty Images)

A day after the Florida Panthers punched out the franchise’s first ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals since 1996, the Heat missed the NBA Finals for the second consecutive game.

Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 18 points. Bam Adebayo added 16 points and eight rebounds. Jimmy Butler had 14 points, five rebounds and five assists but sat out the final 9:47 of the game. Caleb Martin finished with 14 points.

It was Butler’s lowest-scoring game of the playoffs. He had 16 points in Game 3, a blowout win by Miami.

Miami never led and had 16 turnovers.

Boston entered the day just 4–5 at TD Garden after the season. But with a raucous home crowd behind them, the Celtics thrived on their energy.

They worked for loose balls, out-maneuvered Miami for rebounds and found each other for layups and dunks in transition as they scored 20 points in the first half.

jaylen brown dunking

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics dunks the ball during the second quarter in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at TD Garden on May 25, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddy Meyer / Getty Images)

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The Heat cut it down, but Boston continued to hit 3s on downs and extended its lead to 96–72 in the fourth quarter.

Boston fans chant “Beat the Heat!” chant that was not done dominant since game 1,

The Heat started Kyle Lowry at point guard after Gabe Vincent was out the first day with a left ankle sprain. It was Lowry’s first start since February 2.

Vincent, the Heat’s third leading scorer this season, suffered the injury late in Game 4 in Miami when he landed awkwardly while trying to save a loose ball near the Heat bench.

His presence was missed as Miami struggled early on the offensive end, flanked by a Celtics defense that forced the Heat into 10 first-half turnovers that yielded 17 Boston points. Lowry played 31 minutes, scored five points and finished with four turnovers.


Heat: Outshot 13-0 in the first 24 minutes of the second half.

Celtics: Al Horford added six points and 11 rebounds. … The Celtics took a 61-44 lead into halftime. … Boston’s first turnover of the game didn’t come until the 8:16 mark of the second quarter.

fast start

The Celtics got off to the quick start they had hoped for in front of their home crowd.

Smart stripped Adebayo on Miami’s opening possession, igniting a fast break and layup by Tatum on the other end.

Then, with the game tied at 4, Tatum broke free in the lane for a monstrous two-handed dunk. He subsequently hung onto the rim and continued his celebration when he landed, drawing a technical foul.

jaylen brown

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics reacts during the second quarter of game five of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat at TD Garden on May 25, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Maddy Meyer / Getty Images)

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This did not stop the momentum of the Celtics, as their first quarter lead increased to 23–7. Boston ended the period with a 35–20 lead, punctuated by a 3-pointer by White at the buzzer.

Tatum had 12 points in the opening 12 minutes as the Celtics outscored the Heat 21–6 from beyond the arc. Boston made 7 of 12 attempts.

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Celtics Hall of Famer Paul Pierce, NCAA President Charlie Baker and New England Patriots Matt Slater and Devin McCourty were among the many celebrities at the Garden.