Miami Heat 125, Boston Celtics 113 — In Game 5 of this Eastern Conference Finals series, Miami had a lead and seemingly control of the game for the first half before losing it and falling apart in the second half. It would seem, based on what we know about the participants on the Heat sideline, that there was no chance that was going to happen a second time in a row.
Sure, Boston kept it within single digits for the entire first half, including six lead changes late in the second quarter before things halted for intermission with Miami up 62-60. And yeah, the Celtics would hold the early advantage in the third quarter, opening the frame up on a 5-0 burst. And then Miami said “nuh uh,” and slowly began re-opening their lead. It would peak with an Andre Iguodala triple with 4:20 to go to put Miami up eight, 82-74.
But the Boston that got it together in the second half of Game 5 came back out to play. A 7-0 run late in the third quarter extended into an 11-2 stretch bridging into the fourth, and the C’s found themselves up 90-88. Turnovers by the Heat were the big problem here as Miami kept coughing it up and the Celtics kept turning them into points. Jaylen Brown picked Tyler Herro’s pocket and darted forward for a layup to put Boston up 96-90 with 9:15 to go, and all of that “hey, things ended badly last time” simmered to the top.
And then it disappeared.
The next six points all came from the Heat, including a three and a pullup J from Herro, as the game was tied at 96 with 7:40 to go. Miami wasn’t done. They started letting Bam Adebayo just taking a running start at Daniel Theis and go to the rim repeatedly and boy howdy did that keep working. He scored six of the next eight points until Theis fouled out, and Adebayo assisted on the other Heat bucket, finding Jimmy Butler zipping over to the rim when secondary defense collapsed on the big man.
Still, it was only 104-102 at that point with 5:31 to go. Hardly clearly over at that point. When Miami held Boston without a point for over three minutes after that point? Okay, then it was over. Miami ripped off 13 straight in the meantime leaving them up 116-102 after a layup from Butler with 2:40 to go.
Four of the five Boston starters scored at least 20 points, but it didn’t matter. Miami got 15+ point performances from six guys, including 19 and 15 off the bench from Herro and Iguodala. Adebayo was the leader here with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists on the night.
Jimmy Butler finished with 22 points on a slightly rough 8-for-19 shooting, but he went 6-for-7 from the line and added two rebounds and eight assists to guide the Heat to the Finals for the first time since 2014. Jae Crowder added nine points, six rebounds, an assist, and two blocks to the festivities. It will be the first NBA Finals appearance for both men, and as Marquette fans, that’s pretty exciting stuff.
Up Next: Well, obviously, the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers! That series gets started on Wednesday night with an 8pm Central tipoff time. The game will be televised on ABC, as all of the Finals games will be.