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Celtics dominate second half, force Game 6

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Boston out-scored Miami 41-25 in the third quarter.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Miami Heat controlled the first half of Game 5. Jimmy Butler and Duncan Robinson were aggressive offensively, Miami played strong defense and the Heat never trailed through the first 24 minutes. The Heat went into halftime up seven, 58-51.

And then the Celtics dominated the third quarter against Miami, racking up early fouls and getting into the bonus with more than eight minutes to go. And to make matters worse, the Heat couldn’t score to open the third, only mustering five points through the first six minutes of the quarter. Miami struggled, especially from 3-point range.

And Boston hit their 3-pointers to blow the game wide open. The Celtics built a double-digit lead, scoring 41 points in the period — the most the Heat have ever allowed in the playoffs.

Miami went into the fourth down by nine points, but the Heat couldn’t mount a comeback to get within striking distance. In fact, Andre Iguodala committed an ill-advised technical foul just over a minute into the fourth period with an elbow to Daniel Theis on a rebound. Jayson Tatum scored on the technical, and Jaylen Brown made a layup on the Celtics’ next possession.

Boston’s fourth-quarter lead crested at 19, and they held on to win 121-108 and force a Game 6.

For the Heat, the statistic that jumps off the page is the 7-of-36 shooting (19 percent) from 3-point range. Miami was the second-best 3-point shooting team in the regular season, but has now struggled mightily from 3 for the third consecutive game.

Jae Crowder, who shot better than 40 percent from 3 in the previous series against the Milwaukee Bucks, went 0-for-6 from downtown. Prior to joining Miami, Crowder was a streaky 3-point shooter. His regression came at the worse possible time for the Heat. To his credit, Crowder still made himself valuable with cuts to the basket and finished with 14 points.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting from the field, but he shot just 1-for-7 from 3. Dragic’s aggressive play driving the ball to the rim kept Miami within striking distance, especially in an otherwise dreary third quarter. Unfortunately for the Heat, Dragic fouled out of the game with more than four minutes to go on an offensive foul.

The Heat needed more in the second half from Butler and Bam Adebayo, who both shot 5-of-11 from the field. Adebayo needs to win his matchup against Theis to win this series, and the Celtics center finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds to Adebayo’s 13 and eight.

Butler struggled with some foul trouble — he picked up two early fouls and committed his fourth in the third — but should have been more aggressive in looking for his shot. Plays like this were sorely needed in the second half.

We again saw first-half minutes for Solomon Hill, who appears to have leapfrogged Derrick Jones Jr. and Kendrick Nunn in the rotation. And Hill made some nice plays, picking up two assists in seven minutes.

Game 6 is Sunday at 7:30 p.m.