Celtic apply heat, lower deficit to 3-2

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (right) is hit in the face by a loose ball as Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (second from left) reaches for it and center Al Horford (left) watches along with forward Jayson Tatum during the second half in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Thursday in Boston. The Celtics won 110-97 to narrow their series deficit to 3-2.
(AP/Michael Dwyer)
Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (right) is hit in the face by a loose ball as Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo (second from left) reaches for it and center Al Horford (left) watches along with forward Jayson Tatum during the second half in Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals on Thursday in Boston. The Celtics won 110-97 to narrow their series deficit to 3-2. (AP/Michael Dwyer)


BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics have looked elimination in the face four times this postseason and still haven't blinked.

Derrick White had 24 points, including six three-pointers, and the Celtics dominated the Miami Heat 110-97 on Thursday night in Game 5 to extend the NBA Eastern Conference finals.

Marcus Smart had 23 points and five steals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points apiece as the Celtics won their second straight and trimmed Miami's series lead to 3-2. The Celtics are halfway to becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

"We've got to do whatever it takes to get a win," White said.

Boston also survived two elimination games in the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers. Teams that fell behind 3-0 are 0-150 all-time in series.

"It just says that our backs are against the wall and we're sticking together and we're competing at a high level to give ourselves a chance," Celtics Coach Joe Mazzulla said.

Game 6 is Saturday in Miami, where the Heat will try again to become the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals in the current format, which dates to 1984.

"We're always going to stay positive, knowing that we can and we will win the series," Miami Jimmy Butler said. "We just have to close it out at home."

A day after the Florida Panthers punched the franchise's first ticket to the Stanley Cup finals since 1996, for the second straight game the Heat were denied a spot in the NBA Finals.

"One game doesn't lead to the next game," Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It just doesn't matter. It's about collectively preparing and putting together a great game. We'll play much better on Saturday. That's all we just have to focus on right now."

Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 18 points. Bam Adebayo added 16 points and eight rebounds. Butler had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 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.

"I don't want to say we're surprised by it, but they raised their level," Robinson said. "We've got to raise ours now as well."

Boston entered with a 4-5 record at TD Garden this postseason. But with a raucous home crowd behind them, the Celtics thrived on its energy.

They dove for loose balls, outfought Miami for rebounds and found each other for layups and dunks in transition as they built as much as a 20-point lead in the first half.

The Heat cut into it, but Boston kept knocking down 3s and grew its edge as high as 96-72 in the fourth quarter.

Boston's fans reignited a "Beat the Heat!" chant that hadn't been prevalent since Game 1.

The Heat started Kyle Lowry at point guard after Gabe Vincent was ruled out with a sprained left ankle earlier in the day. It was Lowry's first start since Feb. 2.

Vincent, the Heat's third-leading scorer this postseason, got hurt late in Miami's Game 4 loss 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, swarmed by a Celtics' defense that forced the Heat into 10 first-half turnovers that led to 17 Boston points. Lowry played 31 minutes, scored 5 points and finished with 4 turnovers.

"I think now it's a series," Brown said.

The Celtics got the fast 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 on the other end by Tatum.

Then, with the game tied at 4-4, Tatum got free in the lane for a monstrous two-handed dunk. He hung on the rim afterward and continued his celebration when he landed, leading to a technical foul.

It didn't stop the Celtics' momentum, as their first-quarter lead grew as large as 23-7. Boston ended the quarter with a 35-20 lead, punctuated by a three-pointer by White at the buzzer.

Tatum had 12 points in the opening 12 minutes, with the Celtics outscoring the Heat 21-6 from beyond the arc. Boston hit 7 of its 12 attempts.


NBA playoff glance

CONFERENCE FINALS

All times Central

(Best-of-7; x-if necessary)

TUESDAY’S GAME

Boston 116, Miami 99

THURSDAY’S GAME

Boston 110, Miami 97

Miami leads series 3 - 2

SATURDAY’S GAME

Boston at Miami, TBA


  photo  Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra gestures to his team during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference Final series against the Boston Celtics Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Miami Heat forward Haywood Highsmith (24) and center Bam Adebayo (13) go after a rebound along with Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference Final series Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown wears shoes that feature an homage to Hall of Fame player Bill Russell during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference Final series against the Miami Heat Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, top, dunks as Miami Heat forward Kevin Love defends during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals series Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum dunks during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum heads the other way after missing a shot during the second half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, top, dunks as Miami Heat forward Kevin Love defends during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference Final series Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart, right, shoots as Miami Heat guard Max Strus defends during the first half in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals series Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa )
 
 
  photo  Members of the Miami Heat watch from the bench in the closing seconds in Game 5 of the NBA basketball Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)