Celtics Win Away From Finals, But Stress They ‘Can’t Think It’s Over With’

Jaylen Brown and the Celtics started very slowly before claiming their ugly 93-80 win over the Heat in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday.Jayson Tatum Jaylen Brown

But Brown rallied and the Celtics took a 3-2 series lead. They can advance to the NBA Finals with a win in Boston on Friday.

Brown started the game 2-of-7 shooting with four turnovers — all in the first quarter. Then came the second half, when he came to life. In the final two quarters, Brown committed zero turnovers and scored 19 points. 

“Same player,” Brown said of his difference in halves. “Just had to get settled in. That’s it. As the game wears on, some of that energy, some of that intensity starts to wear off, so the game opens up a little bit. The game opened up for me in the second half.

“I didn’t want to get down. I didn’t want to look into the past, think that this game was over. My team needed me to come out and respond.

“First half was s—. Threw it away. [Just] come out, play basketball in the second half.”

Celtics coach Ime Udoka was diplomatic, saying that this can happen in sports.

“We weren’t playing our best, in a lot of ways,” Udoka said. “Sometimes, all it takes is one guy getting back to his average game.”

So the Celtics are a win away from reaching the Finals for the first time in more than a decade — and the first time with Brown and Jayson Tatum as their main men.

But they understand there is still work to be done.

“The mindset and the talk that we had after the game was we was down 3-2 last time, had to go on the road and win a Game 6, and we did,” Tatum said. “We can’t think that it’s over with. We need to go back home like we’re down 3-2, with that sense of urgency that it’s a must-win game, not relaxing because we’re up.

“It’s possible [for Miami to come back]. Obviously, we did it last series, so knowing that, talking about that, obviously enjoying this one, but not being satisfied knowing that we still got things to clean up, we still need to play better. The job’s just not finished yet.”

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