NBA Playoffs: Celtics’ starters come up with a bit of history in Game 5 win over Heat

Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown, left, and guard Marcus Smart, center, celebrate as Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler walks by during the first half in Game 5 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference Final series Thursday, May 25, 2023, in Boston. (Charles Krupa/AP)

The Boston Celtics aren’t done yet.

The Celtics — once down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference finals — are now within 3-2, after leading the whole way and topping the Miami Heat 110-97 on Thursday night.

Boston had four players, all of them starters, with at least 21 points — Derrick White led the way with 24, Marcus Smart added 23, while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had 21 apiece. It was the eighth time this season, and first time this postseason, that a team had four starters score at least 21.

It was the first time Boston had four starters score that many in a playoff game since June 11, 1987. The Celtics actually had all five starters do it in that game against the Los Angeles Lakers; Dennis Johnson scored 25 points, Larry Bird had 23, Kevin McHale had 22, and Danny Ainge and Robert Parish scored 21 apiece in the Celtics’ 123-108 win.

That drew Boston within 3-2 in that series, just as the Celtics’ win over Miami did Thursday night. The Lakers won Game 6 of that 1987 matchup to claim the NBA title.


Miami will play host to Game 6 of the East finals on Saturday. If Game 7 is necessary, it would be Monday in Boston.


Victor Wembanyama’s season in France isn’t over yet.

The presumed No. 1 pick in next month’s NBA draft had 19 points and nine rebounds, and Boulogne-Levallois topped Cholet 81-69 in the deciding Game 3 of their French quarterfinal series.

Wembanyama’s team will now take on ASVEL in the best-of-five semifinals starting Sunday. The ties between those sides run deep; Wembanyama played for ASVEL last season, and ASVEL’s owner and president is Tony Parker — who played for San Antonio, the team that will use the No. 1 draft pick on Wembanyama next month.


— With 21 points in Game 5, Boston’s Jayson Tatum now has 498 points so far in these playoffs. He’s two points away from becoming the 15th player in NBA history to score at least 500 points in two different postseasons; Tatum scored 615 last season. LeBron James has the most such postseasons, with nine.

— Boston’s starters outscored Miami’s starters 95-44 in Game 5 on Thursday.

— The Celtics outscored Miami by 21 points from 3-point range, 48-27. Teams are now 16-1 in this year’s playoffs when holding such an advantage; the exception came in the Lakers-Golden State series, when the Warriors outscored Los Angeles by 45 points — 63-18 — on May 2 and lost anyway, 117-112.


When Jimmy Butler scores at least 23% of Miami’s points in a game, the Heat are 11-1 in these playoffs, including the play-in tournament. When he doesn’t, the Heat are 1-5 (including the play-in tournament and a game where Butler didn’t play).

He had 14 of Miami’s 97 points in Game 5 against Boston, obviously well below that 23% mark.


“These next two games should be fun.” — Boston’s Jaylen Brown, after the Celtics forced a Game 6 with a win over Miami on Thursday night.

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