Lun. May 27th, 2024

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BOSTON — The Boston Celtics pounded the short-handed Miami Heat 118-84 on Wednesday to knock out their longtime rival in five games and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

In taking the series, Boston avenged its 2023 conference finals loss to Miami, which was a No. 8 seed.

«That’s how it should be — we should be learning from our mistakes and things we could’ve done better and applying it to the next season, because we’re trying to have a different outcome this year,» said Celtics star Jayson Tatum, adding that the victory was necessary for Boston’s maturation as a team.

This first-round matchup ended almost exactly the way it started, with Boston connecting early from deep while the Heat struggled from outside. The Celtics drilled 16 3-pointers and hit 40% of their tries while Miami was 3-of-29 from 3-point territory.

The series itself was never truly in doubt, even after a record-breaking shooting performance from the Heat in Game 2. Erik Spoelstra’s club, realizing it would need to launch more 3s to stay competitive, hit 23 of its 43 triples in that contest to stun Boston and its fans 111-101 and tie the series 1-1.

But those 23 makes in Game 2, a franchise playoff record, were more than the 21 Miami would hit over the final three games of the series combined. In fact, the Celtics trailed for just 56 seconds total during their four victories in the series.

Offense was consistently hard to come by for the Heat, who were missing starters Jimmy Butler (knee) and Terry Rozier (neck). Rookie starter Jaime Jaquez Jr. (strained hip flexor) missed Game 5 as well. Miami finished with fewer than 90 points in each of the last three games.

Bam Adebayo paced the Heat in Game 5 with 23 points and six assists.

Boston, on the other hand, looked locked in during its first game this postseason without Kristaps Porzingis, who suffered a right calf strain that will keep him out for at least the next week.

Guard Derrick White starred again Wednesday, scoring a game-high 25 points two nights after he torched Miami for a career-best 38. His 13 3-pointers in the past two games are the most by a Celtics player over a two-game postseason span, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

White’s emergence illustrates why Jaylen Brown feels it’s too simplistic to suggest that Brown and Tatum need to do more offensively with Porzingis out.

«I think we just have to continue to play our game like we’ve been doing our whole career and continue to show our growth by trusting our teammates,» Brown said. «I think if we’re going to win, we’re going to win as a team.»

Boston now awaits its second-round opponent. The fourth-seed Cavs lead the fifth-seeded Magic 3-2 ahead of Game 6 in Orlando on Friday.

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