The Boston Celtics have officially made things interesting in the Eastern Conference finals.
The Celtics, after falling into a historically insurmountable 0-3 series hole, picked up their second straight dominant win on Thursday night at TD Garden. They rolled past the Miami Heat 110-97 in Game 5 of the series in Boston, which forced a Game 6 on Saturday night in South Florida.
While no team has ever successfully rallied from a 0-3 series deficit before, and the Celtics have a long way to go to actually get that done and reach their second straight NBA Finals, their last two wins at least show that they’re capable of pulling that feat off.
The Celtics took off almost instantly on Thursday night. They held Miami to just five points through the first nearly seven minutes of the game while jumping up by 15 points almost instantly. Derrick White then drilled a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, their seventh of the quarter, to give Boston a 35-20 lead at the first break.
Derrick White's first quarter:— Ball Don’t Lie (@Balldontlie) May 26, 2023
... including this buzzer beater 🚨pic.twitter.com/cbpdjIPPac
While the Heat cut the game to 11 points a few times midway through the second, Boston closed the quarter strong to take a 17-point lead into the locker room. At that point, the Heat starters had scored just 19 combined points.
By then, the Heat seemed well out of it. Any attempted move they tried to make in the third, Boston responded perfectly. The Celtics outscored Miami by a single point in the period, and took an 18-point lead into the fourth quarter. Any Heat run was long gone at that point, and coach Erik Spoelstra pulled his starters midway through the period. While the Heat cut the deficit slightly in the final minutes, Boston rolled to the 13-point win without any issue.
Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 16 points and eight rebounds. Jimmy Butler finished with 14 points, five rebounds and five assists. They were the only two Heat starters to score in double figures. The Heat were without Gabe Vincent on Thursday night, who sprained his ankle late in Game 4 of the series.
White led the Celtics with 24 points in the win. Marcus Smart added 23 points, and both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished with 21 points. In total, that group combined for 89 of Boston's 110 total points. They shot nearly 51% from the field as a team, and went 16-of-39 from behind the arc. Boston is now just the third team in NBA history to force a Game 6 after losing its first three games in the series as the team with the higher winning percentage, too, per ESPN's Tim Bontemps.
The Celtics' blowout win on Thursday comes on the heels of a 17-point win in Game 4 on Tuesday in Miami, where Tatum dropped 33 points and pulled the Celtics out of a nine-point second-half hole to grab the win and keep them alive in the postseason.
Game 6 of the series is set for Saturday night at the Keseya Center in Miami. While teams who have gone up 3-0 are a perfect 150-0, the Heat don’t want to let the Eastern Conference finals get to a Game 7 in Boston next week. That would really make things interesting.
This post will be updated with more information shortly.