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Playoffs 2020

NBA Playoffs 2020: What to watch in Game 6 between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat

The Miami Heat couldn't close things out in the second half of Game 5, so a Game 6 is upon us as the Boston Celtics try and keep their playoff run going.

Can the Heat bounce back and respond with a win to return to their first NBA Finals since 2014? Or will the Celtics ride the momentum from a dominant second half and force a Game 7?

We have you covered with three things to watch in Game 6 below.

A big game from Bam

While Bam Adebayo's balanced stat line of 13 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one block would suggest he had a decent outing in Game 5, his impact wasn't felt as much as it had been in previous games this series.

Both of Boston's centres, Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter, made a huge difference in Game 5. Kanter kept the team "at bay" in the first half, in the words of his head coach Brad Stevens, as he recorded eight points and four rebounds in a strong 10 minutes of playing time. Theis then stepped his game up in the second half, going for 11 points and 10 rebounds in the final two frames to help drive the Celtics to victory.

After the contest, Adebayo was highly critical of his own performance.

"I played like s-," the All-Star centre told the media post-game. "Bottom line. I put that game on me. It's not my teammates' fault, it's not my coaches' fault, it's me. ... Put that one on me."

Boston did a much better job defending him as a roll man in pick-and-roll situations and they had no issues attacking him at the rim, forcing him to commit five fouls. They dominated the Heat on the glass and scored 30 of their 70 second-half points in the paint.

"I wasn't being the defensive anchor that I should have been," Adebayo said. "I don't think I was communicating fast enough. I feel like I was a step behind today."

Bam has been a monster in the Eastern Conference Finals previous to Game 5, posting averages of 21.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.3 blocks per game through the first four games of the series.

Miami's leader Jimmy Butler backed his teammate, taking the blame off of the 23-year-old, "It's not [on Adebayo]," Butler stated. "It's on everybody. He does so much for us that it could feel like that at times, but it's definitely not on him. It's on us as a whole. ... And for him to say that, I respect it, I love him for it. But he can't do it by himself -- we got to be there with him."

Expect to see a bounce-back game from Adebayo as the Heat try and pick up the last win needed to reach the NBA Finals.

Will we see the real Hayward?

As you know by now, Gordon Hayward returned from a sprained ankle suffered in the first game of the playoffs in Game 3 of this series - the Celtics first win of the Conference Finals.

It was a modest effort from Hayward in that contest, as he went for six points, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and one block, but his impact on the floor was far more than his stat line suggested. The return of the former All-Star opened things up for every one of Boston's players and played a key role in piercing that lethal Miami 2-3 zone.

Since then, he went for 14 points, seven boards and three assists in Game 4's loss and 10 points, three rebounds and two assists in Game 5's win. He's still making a difference for the Celtics but he hasn't completely looked back to his usual self, as you would expect from a player who missed a month's worth of basketball due to injury.

Hayward has shot just 10-for-25 (40.0%) from the field and 3-for-13 (23.1%) from 3 and hasn't completely gotten back into a rhythm. But the further this series is extended, the closer we'll get to seeing a fully recovered Hayward.

Boston's team President and General Manager Danny Ainge feels the same way, too. "Hopefully we win Game 5, and maybe by Game 6 or 7 we see the best Gordon," he told the Boston Globe's Adam Himmelsbach prior to Game 5's victory.

An explosion from Hayward is coming if the Celtics can keep their season alive. Keep an eye on that in Game 6.

Can the Heat slow down the Celtics duo?

There's a common theme in the Heat's wins versus their losses.

When Miami holds this tandem to under 50 points, they've won. When Tatum and Brown combine for 50 or more points, the Celtics win. It's that simple.

Take a look:

Tatum and Brown's scoring output by game
Game Tatum Brown Total Result
1 30 17 47 Loss
2 21 21 42 Loss
3 25 26 51 Win
4 28 21 49 Loss
5 31 28 59 Win

In fact, that's been the case for Boston the entire postseason. When Tatum and Brown reach that 50-point mark, the Celtics are 6-1. When they fail to combine for 50 or more points, they're 4-5.

Another benchmark to watch: Boston is 17-1 this season when Brown scores 25-plus points.

It's no secret that containing this extremely talented pairing is a key to success and the Heat have to do a better job of making that a priority if they're going to close out this series. When JT and JB start to heat up in Game 6, look out for that combined number of 50 points to decide the outcome.

The views on this page do not necessarily represent the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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