The Celtics escaped the Kaseya Center with a 110-106 victory over the Miami Heat in a Super Bowl Sunday matinee showdown.
Jayson Tatum finished with a game-high 26 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists while Kristaps Porzingis had 25 points on 8-of-14 shooting and nine rebounds to help the C's improve to 41-12.
"Today was fun, we have a lot of history with this team. Last time we came here we smacked them, so we knew it would be a closer game," Tatum said in his postgame comments of Boston's 33-point win over the Heat back on Jan. 25. "They came to play and we enjoy being part of games like that. Everybody's being competitive."
Jaylen Brown added 20 points, nine rebounds and Jrue Holiday chipped in 15 points (5-of-6 from 3) and six assists in the season-series sweep over Miami (3-0).
Tyler Herro scored 22 of his 24 points in the second half on 10-of-21 from the field, while Bam Adebayo registered 22 points and 13 rebounds. Caleb Martin netted 15 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Heat, who have lost seven of their last 10 outings and are 28-25 on the season.
Already playing without Jimmy Butler, due to a death in the family, Miami was bitten by the injury bug when Terry Rozier (13 points, six assists) left the game after driving the lane and falling awkwardly on his right leg halfway through the third quarter. Josh Richardson would also head to the locker room for good with what appeared to be a right shoulder injury with nine mintues left in the first half.
Boston had a 59-50 advantage at the break and was ahead by 15 -- their largest lead of the afternoon -- two minutes into the third. The Heat responded with a 13-2 run of their own to cut the deficit to four (69-65) following three straight made 3-pointers by Herro (two) and Martin with 7:22 remaining in the period.
A Holiday 3 sparked a Boston 10-4 spurt to make it a double-digit lead again, but the Heat trailed by 79-86 heading into the final frame.
Duncan Robinson (15 points) was called for a personal foul on Brown after the two were tangled up battling for position and the Heat guard was pushed onto the floor. Both players exchanged words and Brown was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul for the "hostile act" after the whistle with 7:54 left.
While Robinson considered the play "dirty...dangerous, unnecessary and excessive," Brown chalked it up to two physical teams playing hard.
"There was no issue from me. I think he knew exactly what he was trying to do, trying to get tangled up," Brown said in his postgame presser. "[The official] called the foul but he was still trying to hang on so I was trying to get my arm free"
Despite Miami scoring six unanswered points following the stoppage and then going on a 12-6 rally to get within two (106-104) with 1:49 remaining, Tatum and Porzinigis each hit a pair of clutch free throws to hold on and beat the Heat.
"Late-game execution, you've got to set the table," Boston coach Joe Mazzulla said. "I think our guys did that."
The Celtics will face the Brooklyn Nets (21-31) in a home-and-away on back-to-back nights beginning Tuesday at Barclays Center and then Wednesday at TD Garden, before heading into the All-Star break.
Boston hit 50.6% of their field goal attempts, including 16-of-39 (41%) from 3-point range, while the Heat were 41.2% from the floor and 12-of-40 (30%) from long range. The Celtics were out-rebounded 45-42 and outscored in the paint 50-38. The C's dished out 27 assists (11 turnovers) on 41 baskets to Miami's 21 dimes (seven turnovers) on 40 made shots.
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images
Photo used courtesy of Getty Images