- The Miami Heat desperately needed to put away the Boston Celtics in Game 5
- The Celtics responded with a massive rout to inch closer to forcing a Game 7 matchup
- The Inside The NBA crew had interesting takes about the Heat’s situation
The Miami Heat still remain a win away from a finals berth despite dropping Game 5 to the Boston Celtics, but the Inside The NBA crew of Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal believe they have finally been rattled.
After the Celtics came away with a dominant 110-97 victory on their home floor to cut the Heat’s Eastern Conference Finals series lead to just one game, the Sports Emmy Award-winning group had their respective takes on the Celtics’ victory.
“No, not shaken, but stirred, meaning that they’re stirred up. When they (Celtics) won one game, you’re like ‘They’re the Boston Celtics. They’re the no. 2 seed in the [Eastern Conference],'” Smith mentioned.
“Of course, they’re going to win games possibly. But when you lose two in a row, you’re stirring it up and now you have to question [yourselves] and your strategy has to change.”
Many were convinced that the Heat were heading to the NBA Finals after mounting massive comebacks in the first two games of the series while routing them in a 26-point Game 3 victory.
However, something clearly awoke within the Celtics entering Game 4 as they responded with a 17-point beatdown of the Heat to extend the series to a fifth matchup.
Instead of turning the tables on the heavily favored Celtics squad, the Heat simply had no answer for Boston’s offense that saw them drop 35 points in the opening frame, which dictated the pace of the game as they cruised to a 110-97 win.
“They (Miami Heat) can’t beat the Celtics if the Celtics play well. There’s a reason everybody picked the Celtics… If they play like they do in Game 4 and 5, Miami can’t beat them. They’re not good enough,” Barkley mentioned.
The fight certainly appeared to be taken out of the Heat as starring guard Jimmy Butler struggled to get his shot off, going only 1-of-5 from the field in the first 12 minutes and ended up with just 14 points – his lowest in the series.
Co-star Bam Adebayo also struggled from the field with a 16-point, 8-rebound outing along with a team-high six turnovers.
Moreover, the Heat’s best player in the pivotal Game 5 was Duncan Robinson, who logged a team-high 18 points.
On the other side of the fence, Boston saw a well-balanced performance between star forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who combined for 42 points, and the backcourt of Derrick White and Marcus Smart, who chipped in with 24 and 23 markers respectively.
Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla gave high praise for both of his guards in the postgame press conference, crediting White for his “defensive versatility” and Smart for being the “emotional key” of the team.
With momentum appearing to be on their side, all eyes are now on the Heat, who suddenly find themselves on the brink of an all-important Game 6.
As someone who has four NBA championships and three NBA Finals MVPs to his name, O’Neal had the following to say.
“This right now forces them to focus. You’d think after the last loss they’ll be a little bit more focused. [Game 6 is] going to be a great game. I cannot wait ’til Saturday,” the Los Angeles Lakers great declared.
Game 6 will be held at the Kaseya Center in Miami on Saturday, May 27 at 8:30 PM ET on TNT.
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