National Basketball Association
Preview
Miami vs Boston
When: 8:30 PM ET, Friday, September 25, 2020
Where: AdventHealth Arena, Orlando, Florida

The Miami Heat can earn their first appearance in the NBA Finals since 2014 when they duel the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando.

The fifth-seeded Heat inched closer to a shot at their fourth NBA title by holding off the third-seeded Celtics 112-109 on Wednesday night for a 3-1 lead in their best-of-seven series.

Miami, which won championships as the East's second and first seed in 2012 and 2013, respectively, is attempting to become the first team seeded fifth or lower to reach the NBA Finals since the eighth-seeded New York Knicks lost to San Antonio in 1999.

The last team seeded fifth or lower to win an NBA title was Houston in 1995, when it beat Orlando as the West's No. 6 seed.

Miami has never lost a playoff series in which it led 3-1. The Heat held such an advantage over top-seeded Milwaukee in the Eastern semifinals, then needed just one more game to eliminate the Bucks.

The last time the Celtics found themselves in a 3-1 hole was last season against the Bucks in the Eastern semis. Milwaukee closed out the best-of-seven in the next game.

Boston hasn't rallied to win a series after trailing 3-1 since beating the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Finals in 1981. The Celtics went on to beat Houston in the NBA Finals that season.

The Heat have managed the 3-1 series lead despite being outshot both overall and on 3-pointers, and being outrebounded. Even the total points scored through four games -- 441-441 -- are not indicative of a one-sided series.

The big difference in the series: The Heat have managed to get up six more shots per game, mostly as a direct result of having forced 16.0 Celtics turnovers per night while committing just 11.3 of their own.

Turnovers have killed the Celtics in their last two defeats. They gave away a total of 39 in Games 2 and 4, resulting in 43 Miami points. Meanwhile, the Heat had just 19 giveaways, resulting in just 19 points.

The frustration of letting winnable games get away got the attention of at least one Celtics player after Wednesday's loss.

"(We) definitely have to stick together," Jaylen Brown insisted. "Fight to the end. I think that's the best thing that we can do to represent this organization, represent ourselves, represent our families, is stay together, and play hard. And I think everybody will be a part of that result."

Game 4 had a different look from the previous three. The Heat, who had gone up in the series using superior depth, rode the strength of four big-time scorers, three in the 20s and rookie Tyler Herro with a historic 37.

The only 20-year-old to score more points in a playoff game than Herro was Magic Johnson (42) of the Los Angeles Lakers in the clinching Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals versus the Philadelphia 76ers.

On the other hand, the Celtics got a series-high 14 points from Gordon Hayward and displayed a better depth of scorers than in previous games, but couldn't overcome star Jayson Tatum's scoreless first half.

One of the Heat's concerns in the wake of Wednesday's win was the condition of center Bam Adebayo's sore left wrist. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra reported Thursday that his big man was fine as he attempted to treat his club's workout session on the eve of a potential NBA Finals-clincher as just another day.

"We stuck with our routine," Spoelstra noted. "Everybody got the treatment, rest. Today is another day for rest and recovery. Everybody knows what to expect for (Game 5)."

Game 6, if necessary, is scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

--Field Level Media

Stats and Records
Team Comparison
  W/L Strk Home Away Day Night Div Conf
Miami 55-31 W1 33-9 14-19 7-6 48-25 10-4 41-15
Boston 57-30 L1 23-9 20-12 12-5 45-25 17-9 39-19
Last Meeting
Miami Boston
Date Away Home Pts Reb FG% Pts Reb FG%
9/23/20 BOS 109 MIA 112 112 40 42.9 109 46 47.6
Player Stats
Previous Matchup
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Miami T. Herro 37 66.7 4
Boston J. Tatum 28 45.5 4
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Miami B. Adebayo 12 3 9
Boston J. Brown 9 0 9
Assists Player  
Miami B. Adebayo 4
Boston M. Smart 11
Season
Points Player Total FG% FTM
Miami J. Butler 1495 46.1 563
Boston J. Tatum 1987 44.7 344
Rebounds Player Total Off Def
Miami B. Adebayo 936 226 710
Boston J. Tatum 644 86 558
Assists Player  
Miami B. Adebayo 445
Boston M. Smart 374
Quickchart Matchup
Miami Miami Off vs  Boston Boston Defense
Miami Off vs Boston - Points For 112.0 Points For
Miami Off vs Boston - Points Against 106.6 Points Against
Miami - FG% 46.5 FG%
Boston - FG% 43.6 FG%
Miami - Reb 44.2 Reb
Boston - Reb 44.0 Reb
Boston Boston Off vs  Miami Miami Defense
Boston Off vs Miami - Points For 112.7 Points For
Boston Off vs Miami - Points Against 108.6 Points Against
Boston - FG% 46.0 FG%
Miami - FG% 44.8 FG%
Boston - Reb 45.9 Reb
Miami - Reb 42.3 Reb