Friday, January 26, 2024

Celtics 143, Heat 110: Jayson Tatum leads C's in dominant win over Miami

Fresh off their 119-110 victory Monday against the Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics dominated the Miami Heat in a 143-110 Thursday night at Kaseya Center, to extend their road winning streak to four.

Boston played one of their best games of the season offensively, led by all five starters scoring at least 15 points.
"We have a lot of weapons on this team and when we're clicking like that, it's really tough to stop us," said Porzingis at his locker during his postgame interview. "We just had an answer for everything tonight."
The Celtics improved to a league-best record of 35-10, while Miami dropped to 24-21 on the season and are on a five-game losing streak.

Jayson Tatum led all scorers with his 26 points (7-of-15), while Kristaps Porzingis added 19 points (6-of-9). Jaylen Brown had 18 points (7-of-11), Jrue Holiday dropped 17 points (7-of-8) and Derrick White finished with 15 points (6-of-12) for the C's.

Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro both scored 19 points each, while Jimmy Butler added 17 points (7-of-11). Haywood Highsmith chipped in 12 points (5-of-7). Former Celtics first-round pick Terry Rozier struggled on 3-of-10 from the field for only seven points in his first game against Boston since being traded to the Heat earlier this week.

Boston wasted no time getting their offense going, as the team made 15 of their 21 shots in the first quarter. After shooting 1-of-10 from deep in the first quarter against the Mavericks Monday, the Celtics started hot from beyond the arc, making six 3-pointers on 11 attempts to open the game. 

With a 14-point opening quarter, Porzingis led all scorers -- giving Boston a much-needed boost offensively in his return (knee inflammation) to the lineup and a 42-29 advantage after one.

The Celtics were tested in the second period, with Miami's bench stepping up. Former Celtic Josh Richardson knocked down two mid-range shots early on and it rubbed off on the rest of the second unit, as Hayward Highsmith and Thomas Bryant both made some plays to cut the deficit to single digits (60-53) with 3:59 left in the first half -- taking advantage of Porzingis resting a majority of the second quarter after his hot start in the first.

Boston responded led by their defense, as Brown intercepted a pass from Highsmith to Tyler Herro and finished a wide-open two-handed flush with just over two minutes remaining. On the next possession, White blocked a Herro shot on the other end, leading to two free throws for Tatum. 

After a highlight defensive play only a few minutes earlier, Brown jabbed stepped former Celtic Rozier in the corner -- capping off the half with a difficult contested 3-pointer to put Boston ahead 77-46 at the break. 
"They're a team that plays defense very well, likes to protect the paint. Scrambles a lot, tries to run people off the 3, but I think we had a lot of ball movement, got some wide open shots," said Holiday of the Heat in his postgame chat with NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chinn.
Boston picked up where they left off to open up the third led by Tatum's offense. Knocking down his first three 3-point attempts of the quarter -- putting the Celtics up 22 points.

Unfortunately for Boston, they'd suffer another difficult injury to one of their key players, as Porzingis appeared to roll his ankle attempting to contest a Bam Adebayo shot at the 7:12 mark and missed the remainder of the contest. Luckily for the Celtics, they had reinforcements with Al Horford (eight points, seven rebounds, and six assists) checking in. But it was Luke Kornet who scored 10 quick points in the final 3:32 of the quarter, giving the Celtics some instant offense in Porzingis' absence and a 113-90 lead heading into the fourth.

The Celtics never let their foot off the gas and closed out the victory in the final frame outscoring the home team 30-20. In what was expected to be a competitive game in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Finals, Boston got the best of the Heat in a convincing victory while learning from last season's mistakes and with the help of their new additions.
"We just learned from last year, right? Getting so close and not getting over that hump, and just give a lot of credit to those guys," said Tatum in his postgame comments with TNT’s Allie LaForce. "We got Jrue Holiday and KP [Kristaps Porzingis], and they make a world of difference."
Boston, who will await to find out the extent of Porzingis' injury -- despite the big man returning to the bench late in the fourth -- begin their seven-game home-stand against the Los Angeles Clippers (28-14) Saturday night in a 7:00 pm ET tip-off from TD Garden.

Game Notes:

Boston made 63.4% of their field goals, including going 22-of-40 (55%) from deep, while holding the Heat to 44.7% shooting from the field and 16-of-42 (38.1%) from long range The Celtics dominated Miami in rebounds (47-31), and in assists (35-24), plus outscored them in the paint 44-42. The Heat finished with only four turnovers, while forcing 11 Celtic turnovers.

Ian Carrano

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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