Top-seeded Celtics roll over Heat and into second round. They'll play Cleveland or Orlando

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics ran away from the rest of the NBA in the regular season. So far, the playoffs have been more of the same.

The team that won 64 games to claim the league’s overall top seed dumped the Miami Heat in five games, winning 118-84 on Wednesday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals. In their four wins, the Celtics’ biggest leads were 34, 29, 28 and 37.

“We got past the first step,” said Celtics guard Derrick White, who scored 25 points. “We don’t start the next series up 1-0 because of what we did here today.”

Boston is the first team in the East to advance. It will meet the winner of the series between Orlando and Cleveland, which heads to Game 6 on Friday night with the Cavaliers up 3-2.

“They’ve been the best team all season long. And in four of the five games, they played as such,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “They took control of this game. You could sense that they wanted this to end right now, tonight, and not let this thing get back to Miami. That’s a sign of a mature team.”

One night after the Boston Bruins failed to close out the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 5 of their first-round playoff series in the same building, the Celtics had no difficulty eliminating the Heat.

The top-seeded Celtics pounced on injury-plagued Miami, which was without postseason star Jimmy Butler and No. 2 scorer Tyler Herro, who hit six of the Heat’s franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers in Game 2 for their only win of the series.

Jaylen Brown also scored 25 points for Boston and Jayson Tatum had 16 points and 12 rebounds on Wednesday night. Reserve Sam Hauser scored 17 points in the extended garbage time for deep bench players while Xavier Tillman and Jaden Springer got their first playing time in the postseason.

The Celtics never trailed, leading by 18 in the first quarter, 30 in the second, 34 in the third and 37 in the fourth – even after all of the starters headed to the bench. And they did it without center Kristaps Porzingis, who strained his right calf in Game 4 and missed the clincher. Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said Porzingis will be re-evaluated in a week, with no other timetable for his recovery and return.

“It’s good we did our work early. Wish it could have been four, but we’ll take five,” Brown said. “We still have tests to go through, throughout this playoffs, especially now with KP being out. But I think we’re up to the challenge.”

Bam Adebayo scored 23 points and Herro had 15 for Miami, which went 3 for 29 from 3-point range. Asked afterward about the number of shots Adebayo took — 26 in three quarters — Spoelstra said, “You think I looked at the box score? We were down a thousand.”

“They probably had something to motivate them even more against us,” Spoelstra said.

The Celtics – and the rest of the league — let the Heat sneak up on them last year, when eighth-seeded Miami won Game 7 in Boston and went all the way to the NBA Finals. The Celtics weren’t about to make the same mistake this season.

“We’ve had such great battles against them,” White said. “In the past, we’ve had opportunities to close them out, especially on our home court, and that failed. To close them out tonight, especially the way we did it, was big.”



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