Celtics Vanquish Heat, Reach East Semifinals for 7th Time in 8 Years

May 1, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) grabs a loose ball against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo.
May 1, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) grabs a loose ball against Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo. / Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

For the seventh time in eight years, the Boston Celtics punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They did so by knocking out the conference rival that eliminated them on the same parquet they returned the favor on Wednesday night.

A depleted Miami Heat team that lacked Jimmy Butler, Terry Rozier, and Josh Richardson in this first-round series added Jaime Jaquez Jr. to their list of inactives for Game 5 at TD Garden.

After failing to reach 90 points in the previous two tilts, that seemed like a signal that even without Kristaps Porzingis, the defending Eastern Conference champions didn't have enough offensive firepower to keep stride with the Celtics.

That theory quickly received validation on Wednesday, as the hosts raced out to a 41-23 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.

The Heat went 3/29 (10.3%) from beyond the arc on the same floor they made a franchise record 23 threes their last time playing on it.

Jaylen Brown and Derrick White produced a game-high 25 points apiece at the other end of the court, Jayson Tatum scored 16, and Sam Hauser provided 17 off the bench.

Now for a deep dive into Boston's consistency and two-way dominance that sent the Heat out with a whimper as they quietly exited the playoffs in a 118-84 loss against a Celtics team that now awaits the winner of the first-round series between the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers.

1. As stated countless times on this platform, if the Celtics aren't dramatically losing the battle from beyond the arc, as they did in their Game 2 loss, it's difficult to find the Heat's path to victory. Not having Jaime Jaquez Jr. for Wednesday's matchup steepened that challenge.

Miami shot 32.1% from three-point range in its 104-84 defeat in Game 3, then fared 9/33 (27.3%) on triples in Monday's loss as the defending Eastern Conference champions again failed to reach 90 points.

In the first frame of Game 5, Boston continued placing a premium on protecting the perimeter, limiting the TD Garden visitors to 2/7 (28.6%) shooting from behind the arc.

2. At the other end of the floor, whether it was Jayson Tatum facing up Haywood Highsmith then repeatedly jab stepping, working patiently to gain an edge on him before beating Highsmith baseline, earning a trip to the free-throw line, or Jrue Holiday pitching the ball to Sam Hauser and screening him open for a three, the hosts consistently created quality shots.

That included a fast start from Jaylen Brown, operating out of the low post and attacking the basket for a pair of layups. The two-time All-Star finished the first quarter with eight points.

3. There was also Derrick White, fresh off a career-high 38 points and shooting 8/15 (53.3%) on threes, remaining red-hot, generating 15 points on 5/6 shooting, making 3/4 triples, and having to check his hand for smoke after splitting Bam Adebayo and Nikola Jovic, giving him a free path to a dunk.

The Celtics, a scorching 66.7% from the field, including 8/14 (57.1%) from beyond the arc, held a commanding 41-23 lead after the game's first 12 minutes.

4. While the hosts committed five turnovers in the second frame, even that wasn't enough to help a Heat offense that only put 23 points on the board and went 1/9 (11.1%) from three-point range. 

They entered halftime 3/16 (18.8%) from beyond the arc. Having no offensive rebounds didn't help either. Those figures spoke volumes about Miami's prospects of winning Game 5.

5. And while Bam Adebayo entered intermission with 21 points, finding consistent success from the mid-range and around the basket, no one else on the visitors reached double digits in the first 24 minutes.

Conversely, Derrick White and Jaylen Brown each had 17 points, and Jayson Tatum put 15 on the board, fueling an offensive attack that fed off lock-down defense to build a 68-46 advantage at intermission.

6. Looking to land the knockout blow early, the Celtics registered the first eight points of the second half while Miami missed its first five shots. That grew the lead to 30, 76-46, at the 9:50 mark in the third quarter.

7. From there, Boston's bench outpaced Miami's 9-2 in the third frame, as the game became even more lopsided. Luke Kornet slammed home a Jrue Holiday missed three and played excellent defense against Adebayo, who went 1/9 in the first 12 minutes after halftime. The same goes for Kornet's work in drop coverage against pick-and-rolls.

Between that and the visitors faring 34.8% from the floor, including 0/6 from three-point range, the Heat continued to go out quietly, trailing 98-66 entering the fourth quarter.

8. That allowed the starters to enjoy most, if not the entire final 12 minutes, from the bench as the TD Garden faithful serenaded Miami with goodbye chants and the Celtics' extended rotation applied the finishing touches on their Game 5-trouncing of the defending Eastern Conference champions, punching their ticket to the Eastern Conference Semifinals and sending the Heat into the offseason.

Further Reading

Derrick White Praises Teammates for Career Night: 'Credit Goes to Them'

Derrick White Stars, Porzingis Exits, Celtics Push Heat to Brink of Elimination

Shift in Mindset Fueled Payton Pritchard in Game 3 Win vs. Heat

'Burned Inside': Kristaps Porzingis Bounces Back from 'Worst Game as a Celtic'

Celtics Right the Wrongs of Game 2 to Take 2-1 Lead Over Heat

Heat's Historic Shooting Leaves Celtics Contemplating: 'We Gotta Respond'

Heat Outmuscle and Outshoot Celtics, Sending Series to Miami Tied at 2

Celtics Bench Stars in Its Role in Game 1 Win vs. Heat: 'An Identity of Our Team'

Jayson Tatum Discusses First-Career Playoff Triple-Double: 'A Beautiful Game'

Celtics Protect the Parquet in Dominant Display in Game 1 vs. Heat

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Bobby Krivitsky


Bobby Krivitsky's experiences include covering the NBA as a credentialed reporter for Basketball Insiders. He's also a national sports talk host for SportsMap Radio, a network airing on 96 radio stations throughout the country. Additionally, he was a major-market host, update anchor, and producer for IMG Audio, and he worked for Bleacher Report as an NFL and NBA columnist.