Jaylen Brown called the Celtics’ first-half effort in Game 4 flat. At the start of Game 5, instead of a flat Celtic team, we saw a frantic Celtics team, with its desperation coming out in all the worst ways on the court.
A 1-of-12 start from the field with eight of those shot attempts coming from 3-point range produced five points in the opening six minutes. That, combined with four early turnovers, put the Celtics into a 12-point hole midway through the first quarter and potentially on their way to an unceremonious exit from the bubble.
Boston climbed back within eight points by the end of the first frame but the offense didn’t get much better in the first quarter. Just 25 percent shooting from the field loomed large after 12 minutes as did a mere four points in the paint overall. No starter looked to be in a rhythm offensively and that was a scary situation with the season on the line while facing a big deficit. The Celtics were pressing against a team with plenty of firepower.
“We just knew in the first half that we were playing with a lot of energy, but it was kind of all over the place,” Brown said. “And we just had to dial it in. We had the right mindset from the beginning of the game, but it was a little bit all over the place.”
The offense slowly began to wake up in the second quarter, fueled by some timely interior buckets from Enes Kanter (eight points in the second quarter) down low. Brad Stevens veered away from small-ball after an ugly early stint with his best five, going with some double big lineups to give the C’s more of a rim presence after seeing too much perimeter shot chasing early. Boston was still trailing at half but they were at least scoring again (33 second-quarter points).
From there, Boston tried to simplify things even more. The formula for the Celtics winning games