By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are very much alive in the Eastern Conference Finals after a convincing win over the Miami Heat in Friday night’s Game 5. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led a Boston beatdown in the second half, with the Celtics running away with a 121-108 victory.
Boston earned the right to play a Game 6 thanks to an epic third quarter, which has been a house of horrors for the team over the last two series. That was not the case Friday night, as Boston outscored Miami 41-25 in the frame.
The Heat jump out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter thanks to a sluggish start by Boston, but the Celtics woke up in the second and kept it close. They trailed by seven points at the half but came out of the break on fire. The Celtics went on a 20-5 run to start the third quarter and went into the fourth with a 92-83 advantage, thanks to their first 40-point quarter of the playoffs.
Marcus Smart tied the game at 60-60 with a three at the 8:07 mark. Jaylen Brown ran the court on a Jimmy Butler miss on Miami’s next possession and was rewarded with a nice feed from Kemba Walker for an easy layup, giving Boston its first lead at 62-60. That was part of a 13-0 Celtics run.
Tatum took over in the third and looked like a superstar, scoring 17 points off 4-for-6 shooting in the frame. He continually attacked the basket as Boston was in the bonus midway through the quarter, hitting seven of his eight freebies.
Tatum finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in another epic all-around game. He shot 8-for-22 overall, with 12 of his points coming at the charity stripe.
Friday night was Tatum’s fifth game with at least 30 points this postseason, the most for a Celtics player since McHale had five 30-point games back in the 1987-88 playoffs.
The Celtics kept pouring it on in the fourth, with Brown draining back-to-back threes to give Boston a 103-89 lead with 7:49 to go. Brown was Boston’s most aggressive player throughout the game, and finished with 28 points and eight rebounds. Boston led by as many as 16 in the final quarter before walking off the floor with a 13-point win.
Kemba Walker and Daniel Their both added 15 points in Boston’s offensive onslaught, while Smart finished with 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Gordon Hayward had 10 points off the Boston bench to give the Celtics six players in double figures. Enes Kanter scored all eight of his points in the second quarter to keep Boston afloat at that point in the game.
The Celtics will look to force a winner-takes-all Game 7 with a win on Sunday night. Game 6 is slated to tip off around 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening.