Udonis Haslem has confirmed he will be back for another year, and what will be his 20th season in the NBA.

The Miami Heat forward, who is the franchise's all-time leader in rebounds, has agreed a one-year deal worth $2.9million.

Haslem had raised doubts as to whether he would return or retire, with the Heat putting the offer on the table almost two months ago.

The 42-year-old has ultimately chosen to continue, saying at his basketball camp in Miami on Sunday: "I have decided to follow through with what me and my father had talked about, and I will finish what I started and I will play 20 years.

"I will play this year, because I talked about that with my father and that's what we said we would do.

"It won't be the same. Won't be as easy. But the goal still remains the same. Win. Win a championship. Leave it on the line and hold your head high when it's all over."

Haslem has won three NBA championships with Miami, and made 13 appearances last season, averaging 2.5 points and 1.9 rebounds per game.

Whenever people talk about the NBA, one name is rarely far away from any conversation.

LeBron James is once again the talk of basketball after reports emerged on Wednesday he had agreed a two-year extension with the Los Angeles Lakers worth an eye-watering $97.1million.

The 37-year-old had been entering the final year of a contract worth $44.5m. His new deal includes a player option for the 2024-25 season according to ESPN, citing Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul.

James' deal takes him to $532m in guaranteed career earnings, which would mean he is the highest-paid player in the history of the league, ahead of Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets.

Apart from having four NBA championships, four Finals MVPs, four NBA MVPs, 17 All-Star selections and three All-Star MVPs, what has James done to earn such a lucrative deal?

Stats Perform has taken a trip down memory lane to remind ourselves just why he is still the hottest property in the NBA.

Breakout in Cleveland

As the first pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, it was hardly surprising that James impressed from the start with the Cavaliers, averaging 20.9 points per game (PPG) in his debut season from 79 games.

It was the 2005-06 season where he really exploded, though, averaging 31.4 PPG in the regular season, which remains his highest ever for a campaign, before recording 30.8 PPG in the playoffs, where the Cavs were eliminated in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals by the Detroit Pistons.

James took Cleveland to the postseason for five straight seasons, agonisingly losing the 2007 Finals to the San Antonio Spurs, before taking the mantel again in 2009 as he put up 35.3 PPG in 14 playoff outings before Conference final heartbreak against the Orlando Magic.

He had become a superstar in his home state of Ohio, though it seemed like championship glory was always going to elude him in Cleveland and so in 2010, it was time for a decision.

LeBron brings the Heat

The television event titled 'The Decision' did not go down universally well, it is fair to say, as James dramatically revealed he was leaving the Cavs for the Miami Heat.

However, it turned out to be the catalyst for him to reach the next step as he was undoubtedly surrounded by more talent in Miami, and before long, much-deserved silverware.

Linking up superbly night after night with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James reached the Finals every year in Florida, winning his first championship in 2012, before following it up in 2013 with another.

His numbers were ever so slightly lower at the Heat than they had been in Cleveland, though that clearly owed to having more help from the likes of Wade and Bosh.

James' first title win 2012 saw him average 30.3 PPG during the postseason, and led the way as he got some revenge on the Spurs in 2013, excelling in Game 7 to win his second championship.

 

The Cavalier returns home

In 2014, James came back to Cleveland with the desire to take his team to the promised land with him this time, and he did just that.

Just as he had in Miami, James went to the Finals every year of his second spell with the Cavaliers, and every year they played against the dominant Golden State Warriors.

After losing 4-2 in 2015, they returned to get revenge in 2016 as James starred on their way to an almost Hollywood-ending win against the Warriors, securing their first NBA championship.

They were unable to repeat the trick as the Warriors beat them in both the 2017 and 2018 Finals, but reaching four Finals in a row was still more than Cavs fans could have realistically expected.

Unfortunately for them, James was getting itchy feet again.

L.A. dreams not always what they are cracked up to be

James himself had a solid enough start to life in Los Angeles, posting 27.4 PPG for the Lakers in 2018-19, though injury issues sustained by him and several of his new team-mates led to a wobbly season, and therefore, no postseason for the first time for James since 2005.

Inevitably, he came roaring back the following year and in spite of the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, James and the Lakers returned to win the "bubble championship", the fourth title of his career with a third different team.

However, the 2020-21 campaign was one to forget as James recorded his lowest PPG for a season (25.0) since his rookie year, before the Lakers were dumped out of the playoffs in the first round by the Phoenix Suns.

Was it all over for LeBron? Not likely. He responded to that setback by scoring 1,695 points in just 56 games last season at an average of 30.3 PPG, his best regular season return since 2005-06.

James also reached a notable landmark in March, becoming the first player in NBA history to record 10,000 assists and 10,000 rebounds in a career.

 

Unfortunately for him, his team-mates were unable to match those efforts and the Lakers again failed to even make the playoffs, which could be why they were so desperate to find the funds to tie James' immediate future down.

His PPG has been higher in the playoffs than the regular season at every team he has played barring the Heat, where it was identical (26.9), proving the extent to which he is a clutch player and why it is imperative that the Lakers reach the postseason next year to make the most of the time they have left with him.

Injuries permitting, it is also practically certain he will overtake Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA's all-time leading scorer next season (currently 1,325 points behind).

Now that his new deal is agreed, you can be sure when that landmark arrives, LeBron will be wearing the same Lakers jersey Kareem did so famously.

The Boston Celtics have emerged as a possible trade destination for Kevin Durant, according to reports.

The 12-time All-Star forward rocked the Brooklyn Nets by requesting a trade last month, having joined the franchise in 2019.

Having won back-to-back NBA titles in 2017 and 2018 during his time with the Golden State Warriors, being named the finals' MVP on both occasions, Durant has reportedly shown signs of discontent with the Nets' failure to compete for a first-ever NBA title.

The Nets' 2022 playoff campaign was halted by a first-round defeat to the Celtics, who now appear to be in the hunt for Durant's signature.

According to a report from ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Celtics' ability to include 2021 All-star forward Jaylen Brown in any deal makes them a strong contender to acquire Durant, who is under contract until 2026.

Durant is expected to command a huge trade package, and ESPN claim Boston could offer as many as three unprotected first-round picks and two pick swaps alongside Brown's services.

The Miami Heat, the Phoenix Suns and the Toronto Raptors have also been credited with an interest in Durant, who led the Nets with an average of 29.9 points per game across his 2021-22 regular-season campaign, posting a 36-19 record in his 55 outings.

A trading card of NBA star LeBron James has sold at auction with collectibles marketplace Goldin for $2.4million, including buyer's premium.

The unique 2020-21 Panini Flawless Triple Logoman of James includes embedded segments of the 37-year-old's game-worn jerseys from his time at the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Miami Heat and the Los Angeles Lakers.

It had been anticipated that it could break the all-time record for a sports trading card, which is a Honus Wagner baseball card that was sold for $6.6m in 2021.

Panini's 2020-21 Flawless release included five Triple Logoman cards, made up of patches from three-star players, though James' was the only card that features three patches from one player.

The four other cards include patches from Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry; Draymond Green, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson; Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and Tyrese Haliburton, and Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic and Zion Williamson.

To echo Kevin Durant's thoughts during Thursday's 2022 NBA Draft, it is a wing's league as size, length and shooting proved desirable for front offices, with the Orlando Magic taking Paolo Banchero first. 

The NBA's stylistic pivot towards skill and versatility since the introduction of the defensive three-second rule has necessitated the recruitment of more skilled and flexible players on both ends.

Banchero serves as an apt first selection in this respect - a 6-foot-9 forward with the ability to create his own shot and make decisions with the ball in his hands, as well the versatility to switch on the defensive end.

From the likes of Mario Hezonja to Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, the Magic have had a predisposition towards rangy forwards who struggle to stretch the floor in recent years, though. Whether Banchero can improve on his outside shooting could again prove definitive in their rebuild.

The Duke freshman averaged 17.2 points per game but connected on 33.8 per cent of shots from three-point range, with their elimination in the Final Four characterised by defenders sagging off him.

A slight improvement at NBA level would be needed in this respect, to force close-outs and help maximise his ability to get to the basket.

Size and shooting are the primary characteristics for others in the lottery however, with Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith Jr. the other standouts in this year's draft class.

The 7-foot-1 Holmgren has reportedly set a goal of achieving 50/40/90 shooting splits in the NBA, which previously would have been unheard for someone his size.

Meanwhile, the 6-foot-10 Smith presents a similar spacing threat for his size, with ability to quickly get shots up off the catch or when putting the ball on the floor.

Eight of the top ten picks were within the 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-10 range, before even considering the added dynamics of wingspan on the defensive end.

Shooting took over as the most sought-after skill in the late stages of the first round and early parts of the second, with the Golden State Warriors and Miami Heat respectively going for Patrick Baldwin Jr. and Nikola Jovic.

TyTy Washington is yet another example of the value placed in shooting and skill for the Houston Rockets, seemingly seeking their own answer to the Philadelphia 76ers' Tyrese Maxey.

 

2022 NBA Draft first-round picks

1. Orlando Magic - Paolo Banchero (Duke)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
3. Houston Rockets - Jabari Smith (Auburn)
4. Sacramento Kings - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
5. Detroit Pistons - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
6. Indiana Pacers - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
7. Portland Trail Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
8. New Orleans Pelicans - Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)
9. San Antonio Spurs - Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
10. Washington Wizards - Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
11. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jalen Williams (Santa Clara)
13. Detroit Pistons - Jalen Duren (Memphis)
14. Cleveland Cavaliers - Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
15. Charlotte Hornets - Mark Williams (Duke)
16. Atlanta Hawks - AJ Griffin (Duke)
17. Houston Rockets - Tari Eason (LSU)
18. Chicago Bulls - Dalen Terry (Arizona)
19. Memphis Grizzlies - Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest)
20. San Antonio Spurs - Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
21. Denver Nuggets - Christian Braun (Kansas)
22. Minnesota Timberwolves - Walker Kessler (Auburn)
23. Memphis Grizzlies - David Roddy (Colorado State)
24. Milwaukee Bucks - MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite)
25. San Antonio Spurs - Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
26. Dallas Mavericks - Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
27. Miami Heat - Nikola Jovic (Serbia)
28. Golden State Warriors - Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee)
29. Houston Rockets - TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky)
30. Denver Nuggets - Peyton Watson (UCLA)

Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum said he wanted to "honour" Kobe Bryant, after his side advanced to the NBA Finals on Sunday, defeating the Miami Heat 100-96 on Sunday.

For Game 7, Tatum wore an armband in the colours of the Celtics' long-time rival Los Angeles Lakers – a purple armband with his idol Bryant's number 24 for the Lakers stitched on in gold.

The 24-year-old went on to put up 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal in just over 45 minutes on the court, taking out the inaugural Larry Bird trophy for Eastern Conference Finals MVP.

While explaining the inspiration behind the armband, Tatum said afterwards how Boston securing their first finals appearance since 2010 and his MVP award all feels surreal.

"That was my inspiration, that was my favourite player," he said post-game. The shoes I wore in the last couple of games were dedicated to him and today, before I took my nap, I was watching some film and some moments from his career. I wanted to wear that armband to honour him and kind of share that moment.

"It's an honour. It still doesn't even seem real right now, but I'm extremely happy and grateful for all of this. Regardless of how long I've been in the league, I'm not too far removed from when I was in high school, dreaming about moments like this.

"I still feel like a kid, sometimes, in that I'm truly living out my dream. To be the first person to win this award, after Larry Bird, it still hasn't sunk in yet."

Boston's playoff opponents to secure the Eastern Conference title were also the three to eliminate them in each of the previous three seasons.

Aside from their progression past the Brooklyn Nets this season, the Celtics engaged in highly physical battles in series against the Milwaukee Bucks and Heat to get to the finals.

According to Tatum, those playoff losses inspired them to get out of the East this time around.

"It was the biggest game of our season and my career, and I just had faith that we were going to give it all we had, regardless of the outcome," he said. "To get over this hump in the fashion that we did it - obviously we took the toughest route possible, winning Game 7 to go to the championship on the road, it's special.

"Losing my first year and losing to these guys in the bubble, I think going through those tough times helped us grow, helped us learn and once we get in that situation again, we'd respond differently.

"In the moment, when you lose those series, obviously it hurts and it's tough, but you never forget it. I think that's what we all had in common, that we had all been through those tough times and we remembered how that felt, and we didn't want to have that feeling again leaving here tonight."

The Celtics will now face the Golden State Warriors, with Game 1 taking place in San Francisco on Thursday.

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra holds nothing against Jimmy Butler's shot selection and praised the Boston Celtics, after they defeated his side 100-96 in Game 7 to progress to the NBA Finals.

Butler, who willed the Heat and the series back to Miami after 47 points in their Game 6 win, played all 48 minutes and their chance to win or tie the game with 17.1 seconds remaining.

Despite Al Horford's close-out, Butler had a clean look but his three-point attempt to make it 99-98 was short, handing the Celtics the game and the series.

Spoelstra would not have his perspective altered by the outcome, however, saying it was the right shot for the six-time All-Star to take with Miami's season on the line.

"It was fitting that it would come down to the last possession," Spoelstra said post-game. "I felt it had been an incredible storyline, for Jimmy to pull up and hit that three and I love that about Jimmy, it was the right look. I thought, as it was leaving his hands, for sure that was going in.

"You can't prepare for it. It's one of the worst feelings in the world to address a locker room after a game like this. When it ends, it ends in a thud.

"I just have so much incredible respect and love for everybody in that locker room and for what everybody gave to this team. When it's such a memorable season and post-season, it felt like five seasons in one."

Miami's loss on Sunday makes for the sixth consecutive season where the Eastern Conference's first seed does not advance to the finals.

Sunday's Game 7 played out in almost typical fashion, both for a Game 7 and between these two intense teams, with constant momentum swings and scoring runs.

Spoelstra was full of praise for the Celtics and counterpart Ime Udoka, as well as his own team, after what was a highly competitive and ultimately even series.

"It was a really fun group to be around, a really hard-edged group with all the qualities that we love, the good, the bad and everything in between. It's heartbreaking when it ends like this," he said post-game.

"You certainly have to credit the Boston Celtics and their team and coaching staff. Ime [Udoka] did such a tremendous job, building on what they've done the last six, seven years.

"They've probably done it they way that it's supposed to happen in this league. We tip our hats off to them. They are a heck of a basketball team, they can really defend at a high level, they're competitive. This was all about competition, and we faced a team that kind of matches the best qualities of what we do."

The Boston Celtics have advanced to the NBA Finals, defeating the Miami Heat 100-96 on Sunday and taking out the Eastern Conference Finals.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart combined for 74 points, as Boston confirmed their 10th conference title and a 22nd finals appearance.

Tatum received the inaugural Larry Bird Trophy for Eastern Conference Finals MVP, coming into Game 7 with an average of 24.8 points.

The three-time All-Star finished Game 7 on the road with 26 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, two blocks and a steal, in what was an exceptional performance.

In a game of momentum swings, the Heat trailed as much as 17 points at one stage, but gained momentum with defensive stops and consequent transition baskets to bring it back to single digits.

Boston restored their buffer midway through the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run, before Jayson Tatum drained a massive step-back three-pointer deep in the shot clock with just under six minutes remaining.

The Heat fought to get it to a one-possession game, and after backing up Max Strus' triple with a defensive stop, had the ball with 17 seconds left.

Jimmy Butler, who willed the Heat and the series back to Miami with 47 points in Game 6, played all 48 minutes and had the chance to either tie or win the game with what was effectively their final possession.

He opted for the latter but his three-point attempt was short, with Al Horford's rebound confirming the result and series.

The Celtics will now face the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, with Game 1 to take place on Thursday.

Tyler Herro will return from injury for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals as his Miami Heat host the Boston Celtics.

Herro, who won this season's Sixth Man of the Year, has missed Game 4, Game 5 and Game 6 with a groin injury, but was given a chance to prove his fitness with an NBA Finals berth on the line.

The 22-year-old guard averaged 20 points, five rebounds and four assists per game in the regular season, shooting a career-best 39.9 per cent from long range on a career-high 6.7 attempts per game.

He has scored in double-figures in eight of his nine playoff games this season, and the Heat won two of the three games he was present for in this series against the Celtics.

His return will likely see Caleb Martin's role reduced to zero, while one of Victor Oladipo or Gabe Vincent should also see reduced minutes.

American tennis player Coco Gauff threw her support behind the Miami Heat after defeating Elise Mertens 6-4 6-0 in the fourth round of the French Open.

Gauff, the 18th seed, has not lost a set through the first four rounds, booking a quarter-final showdown against compatriot Sloane Stephens.

After her latest win, she signed the camera with support for the Heat in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Boston Celtics.

Speaking to the media after leaving the court, Gauff said she has not been able to watch the series because of the time difference in France, but she thinks her Heat can go all the way.

"I haven't watched actually any games, because the games have been way too early or late, I don't know what you want to even call it," she said. "I wake up in the morning and watch the score.

"I feel like, really, I do believe we are going to win, and I think whoever - I hope, not even going to put that possibility out there, but I think whoever wins this game is going to win the championship.

"I love the Warriors. I really do. I think Steph Curry and that team is really one of the best teams we are ever going to see. I think we are better. I think it's just about the culture we have."

Game 7 will be played on Sunday in Miami.

Jayson Tatum is full of confidence that the Boston Celtics will bounce back against the Miami Heat and seal a place in the NBA Finals.

Jimmy Butler turned in one of the great playoff displays for the Heat on Friday as a 111-103 away win forced the Eastern Conference Finals series to Game 7, tied at 3-3.

Butler scored a playoff career-high 47 points, claimed nine rebounds and provided eight assists, with 17 of his points coming in the final quarter.

While the momentum might now be with the Heat, who have home-court advantage for the final game of the series, Tatum believes the Celtics can step up.

Asked what his confidence level was heading into Game 7, Tatum replied: "On a scale from 1-10 – 10. It shouldn't be any less than that, right? You know, it's the last game. This is what it's all about. 

"On a scale from 1-10, it's a 10 for my confidence level in myself and the group.

"It's no secret, it's Game 7. A trip to the NBA Finals – there's a lot on the line.

"A couple of us have been in this situation before, so we know what's at stake, we know how much this means to everybody. We know that going into the game."

Tatum led the way for Boston, scoring 30 points and finishing with nine rebounds and four assists, though he only made one shot in the fourth quarter while Butler took hold at the other end.

"I think it was just in the flow of the game, and how the game was going," Tatum said.

"Obviously I've got to watch the film, and things like that, but I think being out there, and the feel of the game, I was drawing a lot of attention.

"I was trying to find a mismatch, obviously, and when I find it, they sent a double, so I'd find the open man. I think it was just kind of how the flow of the game was going."

Miami Heat point guard Kyle Lowry gushed over the performance of teammate Jimmy Butler as they avoided elimination with a 111-103 Game 6 victory over the Boston Celtics, tying the series at 3-3 with Game 7 headed back to Miami.

Butler played arguably the greatest game of his career in the must-win fixture, racking up 47 points on 16-of-29 shooting, including going four-of-eight from long range and 11-of-11 from the free throw line. 

He added nine rebounds, eight assists, four steals and a block, becoming the first player since Michael Jordan in 1988 to have multiple games of at least 40 points and four steals in the same series.

After only producing a combined 14 points and eight assists in the three games he played this series, Lowry was superb, scoring 18 points and dishing 10 assists before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

Speaking to post-game media, after Butler said he "did decent throughout the game", Lowry made it evident what he thought of his teammate's performance.

"[Butler was] f****** incredible – my bad, don't fine me NBA, that was really my mistake," he said.

"I just think he's such a humble basketball player, and the work he does put in – I witness it. 

"It's incredible to have a guy like him next to me. I've played with some great players, and he's one of the best players I've played with. 

"To do it on this stage – Game 6, win or go home, do or die – I wouldn't want to lace them up with many other people than this guy."

He later touched on his own struggles, and how he overcame them with everything on the line.

"I'm never going to make an excuse – I've played bad before – and I have opportunities to redeem myself," he said.

"I've got great guys in the locker room, great guys in my team, great organisation, great people in my life who just support me.

"Tonight was one of those chances – I think coach would have said it's a 'legacy game' – and I think having a guy like [Butler] next to me helped that."

Butler – as well as imploring the league to fine Lowry for his profanity, in jest – highlighted a phone call he had with Heat legend Dwyane Wade in the lead-up.

"D-Wade never hits me [up] until his voice is really, really needed – and it was," he said.

"I texted him and told him I appreciate him for it, just letting me know to go out there and continue to build on that legacy, and make sure we win… it just feels great to get one on the road.

"I think we just did our job – we've been saying it this entire series. It's not finished yet, we've got Game 7 at the crib, and we need to win."

Jimmy Butler played the game of his life to lift the Miami Heat to a 111-103 win away from home against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Friday.

The win keeps the Heat's season alive, tying the series at 3-3, with Game 7 heading back to Miami on Sunday.

Butler had complete control of the game throughout, scoring 21 points, grabbing nine rebounds, and dishing six assists – and that was just in the first half, single-handedly carrying the Heat to a 48-46 lead at the long break.

He went on to finish with a playoff career high of 47 points on 16-of-29 shooting (four-of-eight from three, 11-of-11 free throws) with nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals – scoring 17 points in the fourth quarter – as he played 46 minutes, including the entire second half.

Butler was the driving force for the Heat, but they shot the ball well as a team, hitting 15-of-35 three-pointers (42 per cent) as Kyle Lowry and Max Strus hit big shots when they were needed, combining for seven made threes.

Lowry, after a combined 14 points and eight assists in the three contests prior to Game 6 he was healthy for, scored 18 points (five-of-14 from the field, four-of-nine from deep) and dished 10 assists, while Max Strus hit three-of-eight from long range for his 12 points.

Jayson Tatum finished with a strong stat-line, scoring 30 points with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, but he had seven turnovers, only attempted 12 field goals (nine-of-12), and only scored one field goal in the fourth quarter when the Celtics were desperate for their superstar to impose his will.

Derrick White was arguably the Celtics' best performer, scoring 22 points (seven-of-14 shooting, four-of-seven from three) with five assists and three steals off the bench, while Jaylen Brown was also solid, scoring 20 (six-of-13 shooting) with six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Ultimately, it will be remembered as Butler's greatest performance, attempting more field goals than Brown and Tatum combined, while having the best defense in the NBA entirely focused on him, and delivering efficiently from all areas while the lights shined their brightest.

With his Game 6 showing, he became the first player since Michael Jordan in 1988 to have multiple games in a playoff series with at least 40 points and four steals.

Jimmy Butler is confident the Miami Heat can turn things around after falling 3-2 behind to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Miami must now win back-to-back games after slumping to a 93-80 loss on Wednesday, despite having taken a 42-37 half-time lead.

Boston can seal the series on home court on Friday, but Butler is determined to take it to a Game 7 decider on Sunday.

"Besides the fact that anything is possible, we know what we are capable of," he said.

"We know we can play some really good basketball, and we know that we are going to play some really good basketball.

"It's going to have to start in this next game up in Boston. But I just think that we know that we can win."

Butler left Game 3 early with a knee problem and has since been 7-of-32 from the field in consecutive losses.

However, he was in no mood to make excuses for his poor showing.

"It doesn't matter; if I'm out there, I've got to do better," he said. "I've got to find a way to help us win, and I haven't been doing that.

"I'm fine. My knee is okay. I've just got to do better. It's no excuse."

Team-mate Kyle Lowry struck a similarly defiant tone as he sought to issue a rallying call ahead of a crunch clash in Boston.

"We have to continue to just keep working," Lowry said.

"It's the first to four, so we have to go into a hostile environment, and it will be amped up, but I like what our team can do.

"I like the opportunity that we have, and we've got to go in there and fight."

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown insisted his side will continue to win games with their defense after defeating the Miami Heat 93-80 on Wednesday.

The Celtics recovered from a disappointing first half to take a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, setting up a chance to clinch the series and an NBA Finals berth on their home floor.

Boston scored only 37 points in the first half, shooting 25 per cent from beyond the three-point arc, but only trailed by five points at the main interval.

Brown asserted that their defence is critical in limiting the damage when they are not clicking on the offensive end, keeping the team in games.

"Our defence is key," he said after the win. "Every night we come out and hang our hat on that side of the ball. It was great to have, even in a limited role, Marcus [Smart] and Rob [Williams III], to be able to be out there, because their presence on that side of the ball is felt.

"Every night we give ourselves a chance with our defence. We didn't play great in the first half but we only gave up 42 points. Kept us in the game, we were down five, got settled in the second half and the game opened up and it was over from there.

"Our defence is what continues to win us games and we've got to keep hanging our hat on that defensive side of the ball."

In what has been a primarily defensive series, Game 5 was no different, with Miami generating a great amount of offensive impact from their defensive stops.

Brown was a prominent figure in that regard, coughing up four of Boston's 10 turnovers for the half as the team shot 38.2 per cent from the floor.

The 25-year-old took over in the second half, however, not turning the ball over once while scoring 19 points off eight-of-12 shooting.

Post-game, he said there was little variation in approach, despite a dressing down in the first half from Celtics coach Ime Udoka.

"We knew if we took care of the basketball, we would get some open opportunities and knock them down," Brown said. "Just continue to play basketball and be aggressive, that's why basketball is 48 minutes.

"I think he [Udoka] was talking to the whole team. I wasn't the only person to have some turnovers but it is what it is. I'm going to keep being aggressive, keep getting into the paint and making them stop me.

"Miami do a really good job of slapping down, reaching and grabbing and making it tough for you, so it's a little bit of both. I've got to do a better job for sure, but overall as a team, we've got to do a better job too."

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