Enes Kanter was one of the few bright spots in the first half for Boston, so it would have made sense for Brad Stevens to stick with him instead of Daniel Theis.
But Stevens decided to stick with his starting center, and Theis delivered.
And his play was among the many keys to Boston keeping its season alive with a 121-108 Game 5 win over Miami.
Boston now trails the best-of-seven series 3-2, with Game 6 on Sunday night.
Theis finished with a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds.
And when he wasn’t scoring or rebounding, he was making plays defensively such as blocking shots or drawing charges which included an offensive foul against Miami leading scorer Goran Dragic with 4:27 to play.
There were other Celtics whose play was indeed instrumental in the team’s success.
But as we have seen in all of the Miami victories in this series, there was at least one wild-card performer whose play was vital to the Heat getting the win.
In Game 5, that X-factor was Theis.
Turning point: Trailing 60-55 in the third quarter, the Boston Celtics got the ball into the heart of Miami’s zone defense which led to a jumper by Theis that made it a one-possession game, 60-57. Theis’ basket was part of a 20-3 run by Boston that put them in control; control that they would not relinquish.
Jayson Tatum: After a so-so start to the game, Tatum came alive once again in the third quarter which is when he scored 17 of his game-high 31 points. Tatum tacked on another 10 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the playoffs and third in this series. Tatum also had six assists.
Goran Dragic: The Miami playmaker carried the Heat offense for large chunks of the second half before he fouled out. Dragic led the Heat with 23 points on 8-for-17 shooting, with 18 points coming in the second half.
Jaylen Brown: This was yet another one of those quietly effective performances by Brown who would finish the game with 28 points on 12-for-23 shooting to go with eight rebounds.
Duncan Robinson: His long-range scoring, you expect that. But the finishes at the rim? Not so much. Robinson had multiple lay-ups in the first quarter as part of a strong start to the game in which he scored 12 of his 20 points in the first quarter to help Miami establish a double-digit lead early in the game.
Kemba Walker: The Celtics got a solid performance from Walker who gave the Heat major problems in utilizing high pick-and-rolls with Daniel Theis that gave him plenty of good looks offensively that he was able to take advantage of. Walker would tally 21 points to go with seven assists.
Jimmy Butler: Similar to Jayson Tatum in Game 4, Butler’s numbers on the surface look good - 17 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists. But the reality is he wasn’t able to deliver when his team needed him most, scoring just one point in the fourth quarter despite playing the entire quarter.
Tyler Herro: This is what happens when you have a game-of-your-lifetime and everyone makes you out to be the next big deal. Herro had 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting in Game 5, although a good chunk of his scoring came when the game was out of reach - a far cry from the career-high 37 points he scored in Miami’s Game 4 win.