Tatum, Brown carry Celtics past Heat for 3-2 series lead

Tatum, Brown carry Celtics past Heat for 3-2 series lead
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown scored 19 points in the second half of a win over the Miami Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals on Wednesday in Miami. Photo by Rhona Wise/EPA-EFE

MIAMI, May 25 (UPI) -- All-Star duo Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum caught fire late to lead the Boston Celtics to a 93-80 victory over an ice-cold Miami Heat team in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday at FTX Arena.

"We just play basketball," Brown told reporters, when asked about his union with Tatum.


"We are always encouraging each other. We know what we are capable of. We just have to come out and play basketball. We feel like there aren't a lot of people that can play with us."

Brown scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half.

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Tatum collected 18 of his 22 points over the final two quarters. The first-team All-NBA selection also totaled 12 rebounds and 9 assists in the win.


The Celtics are now just one win away from clinching a trip to the NBA Finals. Game 6 of the best-of-seven series will be Friday in Boston.

The Heat shot just 31.9% from the floor and totaled just 14 assists, compared to the Celtics' 24. Heat starters combined for just 42 points.

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Miami, which played without injured sharpshooter Tyler Herro -- the NBA Sixth Man of the year -- for the second-consecutive game, made just 7 of 45 3-point attempts.

"We are not going to make any deflection or any kind of excuse," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "Boston beat us tonight. There are guys far from 100% [healthy] on both sides.

"We just have to stay the course."

Both teams struggled offensively with no points for the first two minutes. The Heat started 1 for 8 from the floor, but went on an 11-4 run to snatch the lead. The Heat led 19-17 at the end of the first quarter.

The Celtics cut the Heat lead to one point in the second, but couldn't close the gap. The Heat outscored the Celtics 23-20 in the frame and led by five at halftime. Tatum went 1 for 9 from the floor over the first 24 minutes.


All-Star center Bam Adebayo led the Heat with 10 points in the first half.

The Celtics scored eight unanswered to start the third and never looked back. They carried a 69-58 edge into the fourth.

The Celtics went on an 14-2 run to start the final frame to push their lead to a game-high 23 points. They outscored the Heat 56-38 over the final 24 minutes to cruise to the victory.

Adebayo totaled a team-high 18 points, with 10 rebounds, for the Heat. Gabe Vincent chipped in 15 off the Heat bench. Heat forward Jimmy Butler scored 13 points.

Al Horford and Derrick White scored 16 and 14 points, respectively, for the Celtics.

"We missed a lot of shots, more than anything we just had a lot of mental lapses in the second half defensively and that was the game," Butler said.

Game 6 will tip off at 8:30 p.m. EDT Friday at TD Garden in Boston. Game 7, if necessary, will tip off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday at FTX Arena.

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