Monday, April 22, 2024

Celtics 114, Heat 94: Jayson Tatum notches first playoff triple-double in Game 1 victory [BOS leads series, 1-0]

The Celtics picked up a tone-setting blowout 114-94 win in Game 1 over the Miami Heat at TD Garden Sunday afternoon, in hopes of this being the first off a deep postseason run.

Jayson Tatum led the charge for the Celtics with his 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists en route to his first career playoff triple-double. Although Tatum's efficiency didn't not look great, as the All-Star shot 7-of-18 from the field, including 1-of-8 from three, his impact was felt throughout. Tatum played with poise and patience, consistently drawing double teams and then making perfect skip passes out to shooters, such as Sam Hauser -- who made four straight threes in the second quarter, totaled all of Hauser's 12 points for the game.
"I thought Jayson [Tatum's] poise and ability to make plays because of our spacing and because of our spacing and because of Sam [Hauser], Payton [Pritchard], and those guys' shot making," C's head coach Joe Mazzulla said of Tatum's connection Hauser and Pritchard (eight points).
Miami went zone early on in the contest to try and bother Boston. However, this is exactly why the Celtics went out and got Kristaps Porzingis last summer. The spacing and mismatches that Porzingis created were too much for the Heat to handle. Any time that Boston got Tyler Herro (11 points) switched onto Porzingis, the Celtics got the ball to him and let him go to work. When the C's were not going after mismatches, they were spacing Porzingis out beyond the 3-point line, as the big man finished with 18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 4-of-8 from deep.

Derrick White also added 20 points on 6-of-10 from the field (4-of-8 3-point range), and Jaylen Brown recorded 17 points, eight rebounds in the win.

Bam Adebayo led all Heat scorers without Jimmy Butler (MCL sprain) or Terry Rozier (neck) in Game 1 with 24 points and six rebounds on 10-of-18 from the floor, while Rookie Jaime Jaquez Jr. chipped in 16 points, four rebounds, and four assists on 8-of-16 shooting. Delon Wright also poured in 17 points off the bench, with 15 of them coming in garbage time after hitting all five 3-point attempts in the final frame when the game was already out of reach.

The Celtics came out with the appropriate energy in the contest, opening the game with a 17-2 run. Miami made a push at the end of the first quarter that bled into the beginning of the second with a 13-3 spurt to cut their deficit to three. After that, however, Boston responded with a 22-7 run and did not look back, with the biggest lead ballooned to as much as 34 in the third frame, limiting the Heat to 14 total points in the period before some aforementioned garbage time threes from Wright cut into the home team's lead to 14 with 2:52 remaining.

In the final minute of game, tempers flared between the two teams after Caleb Martin committed a hard loose ball foul on Tatum. The reigning Eastern Conference Finals MVP tried to go for an offensive rebound and instead ended up charging into Tatum while he was in the air, resulting in a hard fall for Tatum onto his back. Jaylen Brown took exception to the play, despite Tatum jumping up immediately, which led to a confrontation between Martin and Brown. Tatum and Mazzulla both said he was fine, but the C's coach had a unique perspective on the skirmish.
"I was waiting to see what [Tatum] was gonna do. I was excited about the whole situation," Mazzulla said. "I enjoyed watching it."
The Celtics will look to take a commanding 2-0 best-of-7 series lead on Wednesday night at TD Garden, as Game 2 tips-off at 7:00 pm ET on TNT.

Game Notes:

Boston hit 47.6% from the field, including 22-of-49 (44.9%) from long range, while the Heat connected on 46.9% on their attempts and 12-of-37 from behind the arc. The C's were outscored in the paint 44-24 but won the rebound battle 44-34. The Celtics dished out 27 assists on 39 baskets to Miami's 23 dimes on 38 made shots. Both teams ended up with 11 turnovers each in Game 1.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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