The playoffs are heating up and the daily preview takes it to the rim with NBA tips for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.
10:30 (AEST), Tue 24th May @ TD Garden, Boston
History: Played 156: Celtics 90 V Heat 66
Last meeting: May 24, 2022: Celtics 102 d Heat 82 @ TD Garden
Final Thoughts: Boston Celtics will look to parlay their momentum from a big Game 4 win to take their first lead of the Eastern Conference Finals as the series moves back to Miami.
The Celtics led by eight at halftime in Game 1 – before Jimmy Butler balled out to lead the Heat to a 118-107 victory. Butler scored 27 points in second half to finish with a history-making statline of 41 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 4 steals and 3 blocks. A disastrous 39-14 third quarter – with the Celtics shooting 2 for 15 – sealed the visitors’ fate. Jayson Tatum (29 pts, 8 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl) and Jaylen Brown (24 pts, 10 reb) put up good numbers but couldn’t go with Butler in the second half.
But with Al Horford and Marcus Smart back on deck, the Celtics romped to a 127-102 road win in Game 2. Tatum and Brown combined for 51 points, but Smart (24 pts, 9 reb, 12 ast, 3 stl) stole the show. Grant Williams also dropped 19 points off the bench. The Celtics hit 20 of 40 three-point attempts, while the Heat could manage only 10 of 34 with Butler (29 pts) the only Miami player to score more than 14 points.
Butler lasted just 19 minutes of Game 3 in Boston, but the Heat pulled off a crucial 109-103 victory on the back of a stunning all-round display by Bam Adebayo (31 pts, 10 reb, 6 ast, 4 stl). The Celtics led virtually every statistical category and Brown put up 40 points, but the hosts couldn’t reel in the 21-point deficit they’d conceded by the end of the first quarter.
Heat starters Butler, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and PJ Tucker were all listed as questionable for Game 4, while Tyler Herro was ruled out. Incredibly, the hampered starting line-up managed just 18 points between them in a 102-82 loss. Victor Oladipo (23 pts) top-scored off the bench.
Tatum (31 pts, 8 reb, 5 ast) overcame a neck complaint to torch the Heat as the Celtics squared the series again.
Tucker, Herro and Gabe Vincent are listed as questionable for Game 5. Strus and Lowry are day-to-day. Smart and Robert Williams are questionable for the Celtics.
It’s impossible to envisage the Heat being as offensively poor as they were in Game 4 again – particularly from Butler and Adebayo. They’re slight underdogs and represent good value, but backing this pivotal showdown to go over the low total shapes as the best bet here.