The vise turned another rotation tighter on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.
Their once-safe 3-0 series lead against the Boston Celtics has narrowed to 3-2 after the Celtics took Game 5, 110-97, Thursday.
The vise is still tight on the second-seeded Celtics who have found some heart and some determination in the past two games against the Heat who are trying to become the second No. 8 seed to reach the NBA Finals.
The Celtics started the game with the requisite urgency, grabbing a 28-13 lead late in the first quarter and 61-41 lead late in the second quarter.
Derrick White led four Boston players in double figures with 24 points.
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Game 6 is Saturday in Miami (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT), and while technically, it’s not a must-win for the Heat (it is for the Celtics), the Heat prefer to avoid a return trip to Boston for Game 7.
History is in Miami’s favor. A team with a 3-0 series lead in the NBA playoffs is 150-0. Just three teams have forced a Game 7 — the Portland Trail Blazers were the most recent to do it against the Dallas Mavericks in 2003. The 1994 Denver Nuggets (lost to the Utah Jazz) and the 1951 New York Knicks (lost to the Rochester Royals) also did it.
The Celtics have the talent. Do they have the intestinal fortitude?
Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo were the only Heat starters in double-digits in points, and Miami’s starters were outscored 82-35 through three quarters.
The Heat were without Gabe Vincent (sprained left ankle), and he is Miami’s third-leading scorer in the playoffs, averaging 13.1 points, including 17.5 points on 50% 3-point shootings in the Celtics series.
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