Home / Sport / Heat score vs. Celtics, take away: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown help Boston force match 6 against Miami

Heat score vs. Celtics, take away: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown help Boston force match 6 against Miami

In the beginning, nothing went well for the Boston Celtics. They lost 11 of their first 12 shots in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday and were lucky to fall behind by just seven points at half-time, considering all of the second chance opportunities and free throws of the Miami Heat.

And then they became alive. On the verge of elimination, Jayson Tatum bought properties in the paint and free throw line. Daniel Theis was all over on both ends, braving the shots and hitting the floaters. Kemba Walker started the pick-and-roll, Marcus Smart took a step back 3, Jaylen Brown filled in the gaps, and Boston went on a huge run to save the season.

Tatum finished with 31

points, 10 rebounds and six assists in the 121-108 win, shooting 8 of 22 but making 12 of his 14 free-throw attempts. Brown had 28 points and eight boards. Walker added 15 points and seven assists, but his playing record plus 21 was no accident – much of the Celtics’ second-half success was based on him getting into the teeth of Miami’s defense.

Goran Dragic kept the Heat around, finishing with 23 points on the 8-for-17 shot, but was fouled with four and a half minutes to go. Duncan Robinson had 20 points, but 17 of them were in the first half. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler had eight points and eight rebounds each, but once Boston got underway, Miami couldn’t get the pliers back.

The Heat fired a measly 7 for 36 from depth, and their attack collapsed as the Boston circle’s protection improved. The Celtics led by 19.

Miami leads the series 3-2. Race 6 is Sunday. Here are three tips from Friday night’s match.

1. The Celtics are here!

After the counterpunch, manager Brad Stevens told the team it was their first time playing Celtics basketball in just a few games. Their defense was creating attack, their 3 were finally falling and the Heat’s defense was feeling the pressure.

When a reporter asked Stevens if Boston had reached its limit, he said it had been an emphasis since training camp started almost exactly a year ago. When a reporter asked him to dispute the Miami jump shots, he said the same thing.

“This is a big emphasis for us, not just to stop the ball, but then to shoot and play with more effort and challenge shots,” said Stevens. “All this stuff is just some kind of back to basics.”

Brown said the Celtics had to attack the basket with intensity even though the length of the Heat may make it seem like there are no driving lanes. Boston did, and the offense seemed to have much more juice.

Although the Celtics may have watched more active though, Brown attributed the turnaround to an improvement in how they channeled their business, not a total amount. At half-time, he said, Walker told the team to settle down – Boston didn’t come out flat, he came out tight.

Brown said the Celtics “were playing a little fast, a little anxious”, and once they took control, they threw the ball better, played better defensively and “looked like the team we all know and love” .

Across five games, this series has been competitive and confusing in equal parts. Take Boston’s attack against Miami’s 2-3 zone, for example: the zone clearly angered the Celtics in Game 2, but they had scored well enough against it in the opening. When they managed to get dribble penetration and rack up points in the paint a couple of days later, they seemed to have solved the problem. But their pace has increased and decreased since then, both between games and during them.

Boston changed its lineups and approach, but all the while running high ball displays and trying to generate splashes of paint. The purpose of the zone is to mess with the Celtics system, to make their directors hasty or indecisive, and to keep Adebayo close to the basket. As encouraging as this win was, that area still worked more often than it did, and there is no guarantee Boston will. This team the next game again.

2. Big decisions

Stevens did a lot of funky things with his rotation – Gordon Hayward at point guard, Grant Williams alongside Enes Kanter in the frontcourt – when the Celtics were having trouble. Their small, much-discussed lineup (Walker, Hayward, Brown, Tatum, and Theis) had a short spell but didn’t bother the Heat.

“They haven’t really played a ton together,” Stevens said. “And I think the threat to the edge of the big makes a big difference to our crime for us. We will definitely have opportunities to go back, but there is no such obvious answer with big or small. I think Miami does. A great job. to punish you when you go small, shield low so you can’t change, stop the short screen, bounce against it. And then it’s harder to score because Bam doesn’t really lose anything to guard a little.

Ideally, it would be nice to see that formation get a little more run, but that’s a perfect explanation of the drawbacks. If the centerless Celtics stop and run, that formation can be devastating. In this series, however, Adebayo is a matchup problem, so Stevens has to be selective.

Kanter played 10 minutes, almost entirely in the second quarter. Predictably, this was a balancing act – it helped the Boston offense move forward, forced Miami back to drop cover, and had a huge target on his back on the other side. Boston was plus 3 in its minutes, which has to be considered a hit.

Along the way, Stevens went with the guys he completely trusted. Brad Wanamaker didn’t play in the second half, and none other than the Celtics’ starters fell to the ground in the fourth quarter, though Walker was fouled in half.

This will be something to watch on Sunday (and maybe even beyond), especially considering how much better Miami had been in the back halves through Friday. Hayward has reached the 30-minute mark in each of his three games since returning from an ankle injury and Theis sometimes commits too often to play heavy minutes. Typically, this is when the rotations get shorter.

3. Bam blames himself?

Adebayo was discouraged after the loss. He said it was a slow pace, he didn’t anchor the team as he usually does and missed the shots he should have done.

“This game is about me,” he said. “I played terrible. And it can’t happen. And I know. And I feel like I’ve let my team down.”

This is admirable but debatable, and Butler accurately said he was part of the team as a whole. The Heat appear to have let the mistakes repeat themselves in the third quarter and coach Erik Spoesltra suggested letting their cold shot carry over to defense.

The truth is that unless Adebayo makes one mistake after another – and there hasn’t yet to be a match like that – Miami’s defensive fights will almost never be on him alone. He’s a special defender, the kind of player who can clean up a lot of mistakes, but it’s not as if the Heat are channeling the ball to him throughout the game like the Utah Jazz do with Rudy Gobert.

Adebayo is almost unmatched when it comes to switching to guards and playing games as an assistant defender, and Boston is smart enough to try and turn those positives into negatives. When he takes a perimeter playmaker, the Celtics are looking to move the ball to someone else and remove him from the equation. They are also getting better at recognizing when he is too anxious with his help and in timing their cuts when he is at the bottom of the zone. If I were to rank Heat’s vulnerabilities, though, this stuff wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of the list.

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