KEY POINTS

  • The Celtics mounted a strong third quarter to take a 3-2 series lead
  • Tyler Herro's extended absence has negatively impacted the Heat's flow on offense
  • Game 6 will take place on the Celtics' home court on Friday, May 27

Miami -- The Miami Heat were hoping to get a leg up on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals by defending home court in Game 5, but a disastrous second half allowed the Celtics to take a 3-2 series lead after falling 93-80.

Moving around the ball and finding the open man worked perfectly well for them in the first half as they kept in step with the Celtics’ assist numbers, just two behind their 11 assists.

However, the offense stagnated in the third quarter as they allowed the Celtics to outscore them 32-16 and they were unable to register a single assist during this time.

It became evident then that they were sorely missing the services of shot-creating guard Tyler Herro, who has been on the sidelines since Game 4 due to a groin strain.

Though the reigning Sixth Man of the Year is more known to most fans as a sharpshooter, he can also open up scoring opportunities for all of his teammates.

Without Herro, the Heat have had to rely heavily on a hobbled Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry to run the offense.

Butler had a team-high 40 minutes played and only made four of his 18 attempts for the field alongside his four free throws which were good for 13 points.

Kyle Lowry, Miami Heat Kyle Lowry #7 of the Miami Heat reacts to a call against the Boston Celtics during the second quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 25, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Lowry himself was a non-factor in Game 5 after scoring zero points in 24 minutes of action.

On the other side of the fence, injured pieces Marcus Smart and Robert Williams III were able to play together for the first time since Game 2.

The pair only combined for 11 points, but also pulled down 15 rebounds to keep prevent the Heat from having second-chance opportunities.

“I think defensively, we did enough in a playoff game to put ourselves in a position to win. We also had four, five deflections. We’re used to seeing those turn into steals and somehow, they end up with [the ball] and would hit a big one after that,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said of their struggles in Game 5.

Spoelstra was also asked by a reporter about their mood in the locker room and the veteran coach kept it real.

“You’ve got to really enjoy this. If you want to break through and punch a ticket to the Finals, you’re going to have to do some ridiculously tough stuff,” he shared.

Dealing with a groin strain is about as tricky as dealing with a hamstring issue because of the sensitive muscles involved, and it would be nothing short of a miracle for the Heat to have Herro back on the roster for the rest of the series.

But with the top seed of the Eastern Conference facing elimination, Herro may have no choice but to force his way onto the court and deal with the pain to hopefully force a Game 7 on their home floor.

With their once-promising season on the line, the Heat will definitely need all hands on deck for when they visit the Celtics at TD Garden on Friday, May 27.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat looks on ahead of Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 25, 2022 in Miami, Florida. Photo: Andy Lyons/Getty Images