The Miami Heat had a stranglehold on the Eastern Conference Finals, holding a 3-0 series lead over the Boston Celtics three days ago.
In the history of the NBA, no team has ever come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a playoff series, with teams going 0-150 when faced with the daunting task.
However, the Celtics are at least forcing the Heat to think about the possibility of making infamous history.
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Boston forced a Game 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals, winning Game 5 on Thursday in Boston, 110-97.
While the conversation over the next day will be about the Celtics trying to replicate the 2004 Boston Red Sox, Miami star Jimmy Butler is confident he will be making his second NBA Finals appearance.
“We just got to play better. Start the games off better on the starters,” Butler told reporters in his postgame media availability. “Make it more difficult for them. They’re in a rhythm since the beginning of the game.
“But we’re always going to stay positive knowing that we can and we will win this series. And we’ll just have to close it out at home.”
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The Celtics got off to a fast start in Game 5, forcing six turnovers and jumping out to a 15-point lead after the first quarter.
Boston forced 16 turnovers on the night, trimming the series lead to 3-2 and moving to 4-0 during the 2023 NBA Playoffs when facing elimination.
“It just says that our backs are against the wall, and we’re sticking together, and we’re competing at a high level to give ourselves a chance,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said.
Miami is attempting to become the second eight-seed to reach the NBA Finals since 1984 when the current format was adopted.
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“One game doesn’t lead to the next game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It just doesn’t matter. It’s about collectively preparing and putting together a great game. We’ll play much better on Saturday. That’s all we just have to focus on right now.”
Boston connected on at least 40% of its three-point attempts for the second straight game, knocking down 16 of 39 shots from beyond the arc.
Game 6 is Saturday night in Miami.
The Associated Press contributed to this story