In Miami on Thursday night, Boston won Act II of the Eastern Conference Finals (102-127) and drew 1-1 in the series.
Led by Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart, Boston, stronger in all sectors, equalized with an overall (102-127) win over Miami on Thursday in their Eastern Conference Finals and took the advantage of the floor in the NBA playoffs.
Two days after the Celtics nurtured much frustration over a third quarter in which they took water (39-14) sanctioned by an opening loss (118-107), the Celtics have brilliantly rectified the situation in Florida.
Terrifying “Big 3”
When played with this intensity and precision, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart have all of a fearsome Big 3. Aggressively, the first set the tone in the first third and scored 20 (70% shot success) of his 27 points. The second was not surpassed (24 points, 8 rebounds) and the third multiplied, bordering on the triple-double (24 points, 12 assists, 9 rebounds).
“The collective performance was amazing tonight,” said Smart, who missed Game 1 with a foot problem and whose return has done his team a lot of good. Just like that of Al Horford (10 points) who is eligible to play after leaving Covid protocol.
“I felt bad because I couldn’t help my teammates. It’s a blessing to be able to be on the field with them and go into battle against a very good team like Miami,” added the regular-season’s top defenseman, also the author of three interceptions and one contra.
Butler too alone
In the wake of their championship leader, but also his effective replacement Grant Williams (19 pts), the C’s were already clearly ahead at the break (70-45), franchise record as a bonus: never the most successful team in history, with the Lakers (17 Coronations), had scored that many points after two quarters in a play-off match away.
Miami, particularly the victim of their opponent’s outrageous speech from behind the arc in the first quarter (9/11, 20/40 in the end), had a go-ahead after returning from the dressing room in Jimmy Butler’s wake. who, like in the first game (41 pts.), had returned to incandescent lamps.
The winger collected 16 points in the third quarter for a total of 29 (11/18, 6 rebounds), but this time he was too alone to lay the foundation for a possible comeback. Only Gabe Vincent, skilful at long range (4/8, 14 pts), Victor Oladipo (14 pts) and Tyler Herro (11 pts), shyly took over, Bam Adebayo was not used much inside (6 pts, 3 /6, 9 rows).
Boston didn’t flinch
Boston learned the lesson from the previous loss and never experienced a moment of weakness, nor did he let his opponent believe he could turn the situation around.
Erik Spoelstra also recognized the opponent’s superiority in this match. “They were driven by a sense of urgency, they enforced the physical fight and most importantly, they played basketball very well on both sides of the court. We couldn’t contain them on defense, they stole our rhythm. It was very difficult to overcome.”
“In the play-off you have to get up quickly. My players and staff don’t like what we suffered tonight, even if it’s just a loss at this point. We’ll have to find solutions quickly,” added the Heat coach, who was once again without Kyle Lowry (hamstring) and saw PJ Tucker leave the field in the second half after being hit in the knee.
After the first two rounds of this replay of the 2020 conference finals (won by Miami in the Orlando bubble), Boston actually looks better. And will be in ideal conditions to confirm that trend during the next two games in his backyard at TD Garden.
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