Jaylen Brown leads Celtics' second-half turnaround as Boston beats Miami Heat to reach brink of advancing to NBA Finals

MIAMI -- The Celtics found themselves trailing the Heat by five, on the road, at halftime of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night.

And yet, the Celtics felt just fine. They couldn't have played much worse in the first half, committing 10 turnovers and giving up nine offensive rebounds to Miami -- which allowed the Heat to take 14 extra shots.

"We weren't playing our best, in a lot of ways," Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. "Sometimes, all it takes is one guy getting back to his average game."

No one was playing worse than Jaylen Brown. He went 2-for-7 from the field and committed four turnovers -- all in the first quarter.

Then the second half started. And as it played out, Brown wound up being the face of the team's turnaround.

Brown's 19-point, 0-turnover second half -- coupled with an 18-point second half from Jayson Tatum -- allowed Boston to finally break open what was a rock fight in the first half, as the Celtics went on to win 93-80 over the Heat, moving Boston to within one victory of its first trip to the NBA Finals in 12 years.

"Same player," Brown said from the first half to the second. "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."

It was unclear whether Boston was going to be able to follow through on Brown's instructions after yet another ugly stretch of basketball in this series for the Celtics in the first half of Game 5. The difference from the other periods when Boston has gone off the rails in this series, however, is that the Celtics didn't allow the Heat to break the game open.

Instead, things were just as ugly on Miami's side of the ledger. While Tatum and Brown were combining to go 10-for-33 in the first half and the Celtics were throwing the ball around, Miami couldn't hit anything either. Its starting backcourt of Kyle Lowry and Max Strus combined to go 0-for-15 from the field and 0-for-12 from 3-point range for the game. Jimmy Butler, playing through a knee issue, finished 4-for-18. And overall, the Heat were a dismal 7-for-45 from 3-point range.

"You've got to enjoy this," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "You do. You know, if you want to break through and punch a ticket to the Finals, you're going to have to do some ridiculously tough stuff. Getting on to Boston and figuring that out collectively, those are the emotions and the breakthroughs that you have that you remember the rest of your life. Bring this thing back on the 29th. That's all we talked about in there."