Erica Denhoff/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

BOSTON — The sole task for the Boston Celtics this postseason is, obviously, to bring NBA championship No. 18, regardless of whichever opponent(s) stand in the way and what scar tissue might be opened up again to remind themselves of their close calls in the past few years. But exacting revenge on the team that stopped the Celtics one game shy of the NBA Finals last year still has to be a little gratifying — even if the team’s muted reactions after the game hid that satisfaction.

The first step towards a return trip to the NBA Finals for the league’s top team this season is officially complete, with Jaylen Brown and Derrick White each scoring 25 points during the Celtics’ 118-84 demolition of the Miami Heat in Game 5 on Wednesday evening to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Unlike last Wednesday, when the Heat shocked Boston in TD Garden to tie the series at 1-1-, the Celtics wasted no time in establishing control, making two out every three shots in the first quarter on their way to 41 points and an 18-point lead after the game’s first 12 minutes.

Boston awaits the winner of the series between Cleveland and Orlando, with the Cavaliers holding on to a 3-2 lead going into Thursday’s Game 6 in central Florida.

The same matchup that featured in the Eastern Conference Finals in three of the past four seasons lost a lot of its starch before it got underway last week when NBA All-Star and Boston archenemy Jimmy Butler sprained his knee during the play-in game defeat at Philadelphia and, eventually, did not take part in any game of this series. And outside of that blip last week, the Celtics were ruthless in taking apart the wounded Heat, who were also without Terry Rozier and Jaime Jaquez Jr. due to injury, as it opened up a lead of at least 28 points in each of the last three games of the series. In these final three contests, Boston trailed for a grand total of 56 seconds.

Boston and Miami have now split their last four meetings in the NBA Playoffs after last year’s Game 7 win by the Heat in Boston. However, any talk about reveling in the revenge factor wasn’t present as Boston now gets to enjoy a couple days of rest.

“I think this is my fourth time playing them in playoffs. They all count the same. … We did our job. We took care of business,” said Jayson Tatum, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds.

White took care of his business early, scoring 15 of his points in the first while making five of his six shots from the field to break open a close game midway through the quarter. He came in off of scoring a career-high 38 points while making eight three-pointers in Game 4.

Boston made 16 threes on the evening, with White and Sam Hauser each making five long-range shots. Conversely, the Heat made just three of their 29 attempts from beyond the arc, including missing 24 of their last 25 shots from three and misfiring on all 13 of those attempts in the second half.

“[The Celtics] probably had something to motivate them even more against us,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s game, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Erica Denhoff. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 31 pictures in total.

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Tags : Boston CelticsMiami HeatNational Basketball AssociationNBA Playoffs

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