Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum admitted there was anxiety during Game 5 against the Miami Heat as the Celtics knew they were a loss away from going home. The Celtics trailed the Heat 58-51 at halftime but then absolutely dominated the second half to win the game 121-108 and reduce the deficit to 3-2 in their Eastern Conference Finals series.
"Everybody was so anxious, eager to make a play, make something happen," Tatum said. "We know what's at stake: We lose and go home. "But at the same time, we've got to relax a little bit. Take a deep breath.
We know how important every possession is, but we've still got to just relax a little bit and play the game, and that was kind of the message at halftime."
Tatum wanted to make amends
In Game 4, Tatum went scoreless in the first half but finished the game with 28 points.
The Celtics lost Game 4 and after the game Tatum took the blame and acknowledge him scoring zero points in the first half was unacceptable. Tatum bounced back in Game 5 as he scored a game-high 31 pounds and also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out six assists.
"I mean, we were down 3-1," Tatum said. "Frustrated. Give them credit: They've been playing well. They deserved to be up 3-1. It was frustrating. Not supposed to be feeling good about being down 3-1. I was just really anxious to play, get back out there, just give [ourselves] a chance."
At halftime, Celtics guard Kemba Walker tried to calm down his teammates and underline to them that nothing was over. "What I remember from halftime is Kemba saying, 'We just need to settle down a little bit,'" Jaylen Brown said.
"We just had to dial in a little bit, and once we did, I felt like we were fine." The Celtics came out wanting to get the job done quickly but it didn't pay off. "We were playing a little bit fast, a little bit antsy," Brown said.
"We were trying to win the game in the first half. And we just needed to stay with it, keep making the right play and just settle down a little bit. When we did, the shots started going in. Our defensive intensity was good. We gave up less baskets in the third quarter. And we looked like the team we all know and love."