The Boston Celtics not only avoided elimination, but they also did it by dominating the Miami Heat in Game 5 on Thursday night.
From the opening tip off, the Celtics took Miami out of their rhythm and set the tone, according to Boston forward Grant Williams.
“Physicality on the defensive end from the start,” Williams told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin. “(Marcus) Smart set the tone on the first play of the game, which set our defense up for the rest of the game.”
Williams said it wasn’t just the fact the Celtics held Miami out of rhythm, but Boston also played great offensively and got rebounds, eliminating second-chance scoring for the Heat.
“Al (Horford) did a tremendous job attacking the offensive glass,” Williams said. “Myself, (Robert Williams III), Derrick (White), everybody’s just making sure that we get extra possessions and understanding that to beat this team, you have to play harder. You have to play hard as heck. And that’s our job.”
The C’s got balanced scoring across the board, with Derrick White netting a game-high 24 points and Jayson Tatum leading the way scoring 21 points to go along with 11 assists and eight rebounds. Williams noted that Tatum impacted the game on every level.
“He’s done a phenomenal job of just dissecting the defense. He’s doing a good job playing with pace, playing with poise and really remembering exactly what we want to accomplish on that end of the ball,” Williams said. “And it’s not necessarily always gonna be him scoring. Sometimes it’s gonna be him passing even though he scored tonight; let’s just say there might be a game he doesn’t need to and everybody else takes care of him.”
The Celtics are heading to Miami to face the Heat on Saturday night in their third straight win-or-go-home game in the hopes of forcing a Game 7 back in Boston. During the Game 5 victory, fans at TD Garden started to chant, “Celtics in seven.”
“The energy was tremendous,” Williams said of the crowd. “We got to do our job and make sure we get back here. That’s the number one goal; take care of the next game. One game at a time. We can’t look too far ahead.”