A three-pointer by Derrick White and points after a steal by Marcus Smart led Boston to a 16-point lead at the end of the second quarter, effectively deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Boston Celtics took control from the very beginning of the game, so Miami never managed to seriously threaten Joe Mazzula’s team.
As many as four players from Boston’s starting five scored more than 20 points – Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown 21 each, Smart 23 and White 24 points.
With six minutes left in the match, Erik Spoelstra sent two of the biggest stars – Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler – to the bench, resting them for the next, sixth match and probably Miami’s last chance to reach the grand final.
“The sixth game is decisive for Miami. If they lose, they return to Boston with little chance of success,” said T-NT commentator Charles Barkley after the game.
“That doesn’t matter… We need to prepare well and I’m sure we’ll play much better on Saturday,” said Miami coach Etik Spoelstra.
Miami’s biggest stars, Butler and Adebayo scored only 12 points in the first half, mostly thanks to Boston’s great defense and a huge number of turnovers, essentially destroying all chances of the Florida team to make a surprise.
Three quick fouls by Duncan Robinson took away Miami’s strongest offensive weapon, as the South Florida shooter sat on the bench for the last four minutes of the second quarter. Robinson scored 18 points by the end of the match.
Butler scored 14, while Adebayo added two more points.
In the third quarter, Miami managed to find a shooting rhythm, but was unable to stop Boston’s attack, so the difference at one point was 24 points.
Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals takes place Saturday night in Miami.
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