Thursday, April 25, 2024

Heat 111, Celtics 101: C's fail to overcome Miami's record 3-point shooting in Game 2 loss [series tied, 1-1]

Hoping to obtain a 2-0 series lead, the Celtics ran into the Heat's franchise playoff record of 23 made 3-pointers and couldn't overcome it. Boston's offense struggled to find its rhythm with two of their key starters struggling to score, and it proved to be one of the main ingredients in their 111-101 Game 2 defeat Wednesday night at TD Garden.

Although the Celtics' loss was certainly discouraging, Boston understood the challenges the postseason brings and will look to learn from their mistakes.
"It's unfortunate that losing a game is adversity. It's just the nature of the playoffs. If you think you aren't going to have ups and downs throughout a run, you aren't being realistic," said head coach Joe Mazzulla postgame. "We just have to go back and look at what we did well and what we didn't and figure out the areas that we can improve upon."
Jaylen Brown led all scorers with 33 points, while Jayson Tatum added 28 points. Kristaps Porzingis had his worst game of the season finishing with only six points on 1-of-9 shooting. Derrick White added 13 points, but Boston needed to find more production from the rest of their rotation.

Tyler Herro ran the Heat's offense, finishing with 24 points and 14 assists, while Caleb Martin scored 21 points and knocked down a team-high five 3-point shots and Bam Adebayo recorded 21 points, 10 rebounds. With five players making over three 3-pointers, Miami's offense dominated the C's defense all night.

After a disappointing performance Sunday afternoon, the Heat responded early going toe to toe with the Celtics' offense, putting Boston's 14-0 start to Game 1 behind them. With all the attention on Herro and Adebayo defensively, Miami got some help from their rookie Nikola Jovic, who drained two 3-pointers early.

However, Boston's offense would get going quickly with some help from Tatum, as he followed up his 7-of-18 showing Sunday by firing with 10 straight points within the opening five minutes of the game, including knocking down two of his first three attempts from beyond the arc. 

Despite the Celtics' momentum, the Heat continued to stick around with the help of Porzingis' 0-of-4 start and knocking down eight total 3-pointers in the opening frame. Behind Tatum's 14 points (5-of-6 shooting) in the first quarter Boston trailed 28-27 heading into the second.

Following a close first quarter, the second was no different as neither team was able to hold a significant lead. Held in check in the first, Herro (12 points in half) caught fire in the second period with three 3-pointers. Caleb Martin (11 points at half), who was met with boos throughout the game each time he touched the ball, knocked down two threes, which fueled the Heat's offense. Outside of the Celtics' stars, Boston's offense struggled to find a rhythm but got help from their bench that scored nine points.

Brown (21 points at the half) took control of a back and forth second quarter in the final two minutes by scoring 11 points and knocking down three straight 3-pointers to flip the momentum. Forcing a steal and going coast to coast, Brown led the Celtics to a 61-58 advantage at the break after finishing a layup in transition over Herro.

Keeping the game close in the first 24 minutes, Boston knew they would need to play much better in the second half if they wanted to take a 2-0 series lead. However, Miami would quickly put that to rest, with a 21-9 scoring run eight minutes into the third period. Herro continued to heat up from deep, extending his scoring total to 18 points for the game after a pair of treys.

Boston's offense continued to be stagnant, until they finally ended a four minute drought without a made field goal. Held scoreless throughout most of the third quarter, Tatum was aggressive late, scoring six points. Despite the Celtics 9-5 push to end the period, Miami still held a 85-79 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.

Although the Celtics put forth a strong effort in the fourth quarter staying aggressive attacking the paint, Miami's 3-point shooting proved to be too much for Boston, who couldn't keep up. Brown and Tatum, who combined for only nine points in the final frame, failed to get help from their teammates aside from White, who made a contribution late leading the team with nine points. After making a series of 3-pointers, and completing an and-one, White's last ditch effort gave the team hope in the final minutes, but the Heat would continue to respond with their barrage of threes. 

Between their struggles defending the three and their offense being mostly non-existent throughout the quarter, Boston could never overcome the unexpected production the Heat got from their depleted roster that was without both Jimmy Butler (MCL sprain) and Terry Rozier (neck). 

Boston, who hit a franchise playoff best of 22 from behind the arc in Game 1, failed to slow down the visiting team's elite 3-point shooting. They felt comfortable with the type of shots Miami was getting, but on a record-breaking night, the Heat simply didn't cool off.
"Guys that we want shooting the ball was hitting them and we couldn't get them to miss. We thought they were decent closeouts," said Brown in his postgame presser.
In what has been a physical series thus far, Brown feels his team needs to shift their focus and adapt to the pressure Miami's defense brings -- something that could translate to better success on the road.
"It's a mindset. It's a lifestyle," Brown added. "You just gotta embrace it and I don't think we did. They embraced it."
The Celtics hope to get back on track Saturday night in Miami, as Game 3 will be available to watch on TNT at 6:00 pm ET. 

Game Notes:

Boston made 46.3% of their field goal attempts, including 12-of-32 (37.5%) from 3-point range while the Heat were 49.3% from the floor and 23-of-43 (53.5%) from long distance. The C's were out-rebounded 40-39 but did win the points in the paint battle 46-26. Miami had 25 assists (14 turnovers) on 37 baskets to the Celtics' 21 dimes (13 turnovers) on 37 made shots.

Ian Carrano

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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