Boston poured in 16 three-pointers in a dominant 110-97 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday that kept the Celtics alive in the NBA championship chase.
For the second straight game the Celtics fended off elimination, cutting the deficit in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals to 3-2 with the wire-to-wire triumph.
Miami will try again to close it out when they host game six on Saturday. The Celtics will be trying to take one more step toward becoming the first NBA team to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven playoff series.
"The only thing that can stop us is us," Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said in an on-court interview.
Before a rapturous, raucous crowd at TD Garden in Boston, the Celtics looked every inch the favourites they were before the series started – before the upstart eighth-seeded Heat grabbed the first two games in Boston then embarrassed the second seeds in game three.
Four Celtics starters scored more than 20 points, Derrick White leading the way with 24 on a night when he made six of eight attempts from three-point range.
Marcus Smart added 23 while Brown and fellow star forward Jayson Tatum scored 21 apiece.
More importantly, the Celtics harried the Heat into 16 turnovers that led to 27 Boston points and they had 17 second-chance points compared to Miami's seven.
"Tonight we were the tougher playing team," Brown said. "We set the tone from start to finish."
Boston were locked in on both ends of the floor from the opening tip-off, roaring to a 23-7 lead in a matter of minutes.
After Tatum was whistled for a technical foul with 8:43 in the first quarter the Celtics responded with three consecutive three-pointers.
Tatum scored 12 points in the first quarter and Brown took over with 12 in the second.
Meanwhile Heat talisman Jimmy Butler struggled to get going, scoring eight points in the first half and finishing with 14 – his lowest scoring game of the playoffs. He sat out most of the fourth quarter.
Duncan Robinson led the Heat with 18 points off the bench. Bam Adebayo scored 16 points but coughed up six turnovers.
Kyle Lowry starting at point guard after Gabe Vincent was ruled out with a sprained ankle, scored five points with four turnovers.
The Heat, who won the NBA title in 2006, 2012 and 2013, still only need one more win to reach a seventh NBA Finals.
Boston, whose 17 NBA titles are tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most in history, last won it all in 2008 and came up short in last season's championship series against the Golden State Warriors.
The winners of the series will play the Western Conference champion Denver Nuggets, who swept the Lakers in four games to reach the NBA Finals for the first time. (AFP)