The Boston Celtics didn't look like a team fighting for their season in the first half of Game 5.
Shooting 25% from the field and from 3 in the first quarter to go with four turnovers, it looked like more of the same from their efforts (or lack thereof) in Game 4. The second quarter was a little bit better, but still not enough to avoid trailing by seven points heading into the half.
When the third quarter got started, it looked like a completely Celtics team on the floor.
They were digging in defensively, chasing down loose balls, crashing the glass with tenacity and ensuingly, shots started falling on the offensive end. The energy and effort was contagious as Boston kept their foot on the gas the entire second half.
So what changed?
"We were trying to win the game in the first half," star forward Jaylen Brown stated.
His All-Star teammate Jayson Tatum agreed on that front, too. Tatum talked about how he had trouble sleeping with his team trailing 3-1 in the series and he felt as though that carried over into Game 5.
"We were down 3-1. Frustrated. ... You're not supposed to be feeling good about being down 3-1," he told the media post-game.
Both Brown and Tatum were decent in the first half, tallying 10 points apiece, but the Celtics needed more from their dynamic duo if they were going to keep their title hopes alive.
"We just needed to settle down a little bit, and when we did, shots started going down," said Brown.
And that they did - the Celtics shot 50.0% from the field in the second half, creating much easier looks on the offensive end, scoring in transition, moving the ball better in the halfcourt and developing second-chance looks from crashing the offensive glass.
"We looked like the team we all know and love (during the second half)," Brown continued.
And you can bet Celtics fans loved every second of what they saw from their young core in the final two quarters.
The third quarter was Tatum's.
He scored 17 points in the frame to spark the Celtics' run that altered the momentum of the game. He shot 4-for-6 from the field, 2-for-3 from 3 and got to the line eight times, converting seven attempts. Scoring 21 points in the second half, Tatum became the first Celtic in over 25 years to score 20-plus points in the second half of back-to-back playoff games, per NBA stats Twitter.
👏 @jaytatum0's top 2nd half buckets from the past two games as he becomes the first @celtics player in the last 25 years to score 20+ PTS in a half in back-to-back playoff games!- NBA (@NBA) September 26, 2020
Game 6: Sunday - 7:30pm/et, ESPN pic.twitter.com/LvbURGka5r
J.T. would finish the game with 31 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, charging Boston's offence to victory.
The fourth quarter was Brown's.
He stepped in as the closer with 12 points in the final period, including a pair of 3-pointers that helped take the last bit of life out of the Heat's comeback hopes. Brown was near-perfect in the fourth quarter, shooting 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from 3.
JAY👌🏾LEN👌🏾BROWN👌🏾 pic.twitter.com/Hti8RIOjzd- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 26, 2020
J.B. would finish the game with 28 points, eight rebounds and two assists to duet his counterpart's lead.
"It's a lot of fight in our team," Brown said post-game. "We came this far. We sacrificed so much. And we've been here for a long a** time. So if anything, if we (were going to) go out, we were going to go down fighting."
Again, his teammate was on the same page.
"Leave it all out on the floor," Tatum echoed to the media. "You'll live with the results as long as you leave it all out on the floor."
The Celtics are down 3-2 in the series but certainly not out. They face off against the Heat on Sunday for Game 6, looking to bring on the best two words in sports: Game Seven.
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