Coming off their 110-97 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, the Boston Celtics are down 3-2 to the Miami Heat heading into Game 6 at the Kaseya Center on Saturday night.
For Miami, Gabe Vincent sat out Game 5 with a sprained left ankle. He has not yet been assigned an official injury designation for Game 6.
For Boston, Malcolm Brogdon left Game 5 early with a forearm injury and did not return. He has also not yet been assigned an official injury designation for Game 6.
Game 6 tips off at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
Here’s how the Celtics and Heat stack up.
All NBA odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.
Win projections via numberFire.
nERD via numberFire. Adjusted offensive/defensive ratings, pace, and shot distribution via DunksAndThrees.
Following their bounce-back performance in Game 4, Boston kept it rolling Game 5, putting together a complete performance to send the series back to Miami for Game 6. The Celtics have battled inconsistency and home struggles this postseason but weren’t impacted by either on Thursday night.
Boston jumped on Miami early in Game 5, opening up a 15-point lead in the first quarter and never looking back. The Celtics never trailed in the game, a welcome change for a team that has seen large leads vanish multiple times this postseason.
Everything that went right for Boston in the second half of Game 4 continued in Game 5. The Celtics shot the three well, were active and disciplined on defense, and kept their turnovers in check. Boston shot 40 of 79 (50.6%) from the field and 16 of 39 (41.0%) from behind the arc. Every Celtics’ starter finished with a double-digit plus/minus, with Marcus Smart leading all players with a +20 in 30 minutes played.
In a welcome sign for Boston, Jaylen Brown broke out of his slump, shooting 9 of 18 (50.0%) from the field and 3 of 5 (60.0%) from three. Jayson Tatum struggled from three, going 1 of 6 (16.7%) from deep, but did just about everything else, finishing the game with 21 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists, and a +19 plus/minus in 41 minutes on the court.
After Grant Williams stepped up in Game 4, it was Derrick White’s turn on Thursday. In 37 minutes, White shot an impressive 8 of 11 (72.7%) from the field and 6 of 8 (75.0%) from behind the arc, finishing with a +18 plus/minus.
Another difference-maker for the Celtics was their defense. For the second game in a row, they held Miami under 100 points. The Heat actually shot the ball well, making 40 of 78 (51.3%) attempts from the field and 9 of 23 (39.1%) attempts from three. The issue for Miami is they attempted 17 fewer shots than the Celtics.
That discrepancy was caused by a combination of the Celtics’ efforts on defense and Boston’s work on the offensive glass. Entering Game 5, the Celtics ranked second-worst in steals per game this postseason (5.7). On Thursday night, they recorded 13 steals and forced Miami into 16 turnovers, leading to 27 points off turnovers, compared to just 19 for the Heat. Combine that with second-chance points, which the Celtics won 17-7, and it was a tough night for Miami.
In a rare off night, Jimmy Butler posted the game’s worst plus/minus (-24) in 34 minutes played. Bam Adebayo’s struggles from Game 4 continued. In 32 minutes, he finished with just 16 points on 8 of 15 (53.3%) shooting from the field and led all players in turnovers with 6. Filling in for the injured Gabe Vincent, Kyle Lowry posted the best plus/minus for Miami’s starters (-5) but committed four turnovers and finished with just five points.
Heading back to Miami for Game 6, the outlook for this series has completely shifted. After having a day to adjust following their loss in Game 4, the Heat looked worse in Game 5, and Boston looked better.
It’s not all bad for Miami, of course. The Celtics’ issues with consistency could return in Game 6, especially if they struggle from three early in the contest. The Heat can lean on their home form this postseason (6-1) and may have Gabe Vincent back in action.
However, for the first time since the start of the series, the pressure is back on Miami. Game 6 isn’t an elimination game for the Heat, but they will be doing everything in their power to avoid a trip back to Boston for Game 7. Expect a fully focused Heat team on Saturday night as they look to take advantage of their best remaining opportunity to make the NBA Finals.
As it stands, the Celtics are favorites to win Game 6, but Miami remains the favorite to win the series (-150).
The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author’s advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.
Game 2 of the 2023 NBA Finals between the Nuggets and the Heat tips off on Sunday night (8 p.m. ET, ABC), with Miami still licking its wounds from a commanding
© USA Today The Miami Heat have regularly defied the sports betting odds and narratives from fans and media that they are overmatched in this postseason.
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