Saturday, May 20, 2023

Heat 111, Celtics 105: Jimmy Butler fuels another late rally in Game 2 [MIA leads series, 2-0]

The Celtics got upset again by the Miami Heat, in a 111-105 Game 2 loss at TD Garden Friday night.

Jimmy Butler fueled yet another rally, finishing with 27 points on 12-of-25 from the field, to go along with eight rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals. Bam Adebayo recorded 22 points, 17 rebounds and nine assists.

Caleb Martin added 25 points off the bench on 11-of-16 shooting and Duncan Robinson chipped in 15 points (3-of-6 on 3-pointers) to give the Heat a 2-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead.

Jayson Tatum had a game-high 34 points on 10-of-20 from the floor, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Jaylen Brown struggled 7-of-23 from the field and 1-of-7 from deep to score 16 points. Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams each netted 13 points respectively in the C's second straight loss and have fallen to 4-5 at home in the postseason.

Boston trailed 54-50 at the break, before using a 17-8 run to start the third quarter to stay ahead the rest of the period -- taking a 83-75 advantage into the final frame.

The Heat were down by as many as 12-points with 10:35 left to play and cut it to four. Grant Williams (11 points) hit a 3-pointer to put the Celtics back in front by nine -- resulting in some jarring towards Butler which led to the All-Star connecting on shot in the paint and the two going forehead-to-forehead (both were hit with a double-technical), before Butler made the free throw to complete the three-point play.
"That's just competition at its finest," Butler said in his postgame comments of the dust-up with Williams. "He hit a big shot and he started talking to me -- I like that, I'm all for that. It makes me key in a lot more and it pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile... I do respect him... I just don't know if I'm the best person to talk to."
Despite Butler getting called for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession, he would score nine points during Miami's 24-9 run in the final 6:37 to put away Boston for good.
"It's tough. It's a challenge," said Tatum during his postgame presser. "We're not dead or anything. We got a great opportunity. I still have the utmost confidence, everybody has the utmost confidence. We just got to get ready for Game 3."
The Celtics, who were limited to 2-of-10 from the floor down the stretch, couldn't hold off another crucial Miami run (7-of-11) -- repeating the same outcome of Game 1. They'll look to go down to South Beach and make this East Finals a series, as Game 3 is scheduled for Sunday night at 8:30 ET on TNT.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 46.8% of their field goal attempts, including 10-of-35 (28.6%) from behind the arc, while the Heat were 45.7% from the floor and 9-of-26 (34.6%) from long distance. The C's were out-rebounded 45-35, while both finished with 48 points in the paint each. The Celtics dished out 22 assists (15 turnovers) on 37 baskets and Miami had 23 dimes (11 turnovers) on 42 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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