The Celtics held off a Heat team that refused to leave on Wednesday, earning a 134-121 win that took their record to 18-4.
Here is what happened.
The big picture
With the Prince and Princess of Wales seated next to Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and Governor-elect Maura Healey, the Celtics put on a show. They got off to a flying start, jumping to the top double digits almost immediately with a 20-5 run. But the Heat immediately foreshadowed their night, responding to Boston’s run with a 21-6 streak. The teams spent the rest of the first half answering each other, and the Celtics took a 68-60 lead at the break.
The Heat remained tied for the rest of the night, despite the Celtics star shine. But Tatum and Brown combined for 19 points in the fourth quarter as the Celtics pulled away with the win. Over time, a frustrated Bam Adebayo picked up a pair of techniques, which gave Tatum a chance to top up his scoring stats. With their star at 49 points, however, the Celtics dribbled past the clock.
“I already have a 50”, Tatum could be seen said to Kyle Lowry as he left the floor (he has four, in fact, including a 60).
Jayson Tatum: 49 points, 15 for 25 (8 for 12 of 3), 11 for 12 from the free throw line, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals.
Who else? The Prince and Princess of Wales witnessed some of the brightest star power the NBA has to offer this season.
What this means
The Celtics won the start of their odd little two-game series against the Heat. Friday will be an interesting test of the Celtics’ ability to adapt in a series setting.
“Defensively, they had a great game plan against us, so us against this will have to be better on Friday than this,” Mazzulla said. “But the guys did a great job navigating adjustments on the fly and then playing hard throughout the game.”
Take away food
1. One of the reasons Jayson Tatum is an MVP candidate this season is because on his nights off he always finds a way to score and contribute to wins.
But one of the reasons Tatum became a superstar in the first place is because there are nights where he puts it all together and is simply one of the best players on the planet. Wednesday’s game was one of those nights. The Heat couldn’t do anything against him around the edge. He made eight of his 12 3-point attempts. He made his way to the free throw line 12 times. He hit the window. He was the answer against a Heat zone that confused the Celtics at times. He scored by cutting the ball (from the first game of the match).
“There’s about 15 or 18 points a game he gets just because of what he does off the ball,” Joe Mazzulla said. “I think it’s just as much about it. How do you play because you’re a great player or how do you improve the people around you? »
“Without a doubt, he should be leading the MVP race right now,” Malcolm Brogdon said. “I mean, he’s playing at a superstar level.”
2. According to Tatum, Joe Mazzulla shows the team a picture of a sandcastle every movie session to remind them that every game is swept away after it happens. To win in the NBA, you always have to build.
Tatum said the message resonates in part because the Celtics have “a great group.” In particular, he praised Blake Griffin for his can-do attitude and willingness to do things like get the first bus to the arena on the road and play pickup on rest days with two-way players.
“It’s not necessarily always normal,” Tatum said. “Especially for someone who has accomplished what he has and earned the money he has, to always have that team-first mindset and just be a great teammate. , just little things like that that we all notice and everyone shows it in one way or another, so we have a really good group of selfless guys on this team who just want to win.
Meanwhile, the sandcastle’s message is “cheesy” but effective.
“It’s something we’ve bought into, and it’s just a choice we have to make every day as we go in and try to be the best version of ourselves,” Tatum said. “…Joe did a great job of not letting us be complacent or complacent. What we are not. After a defeat in the final, we know what the ultimate goal is. But just trying to take the right steps along the way to get back to that point.
3. As is often the case against the Heat, the Celtics needed to go out in transition, and they won that battle 20-4, scoring 1.83 points per transition opportunity.
The Heat had plenty of chances to close that gap – the Celtics turned the ball over 17 times.
4. Brown was responsible for six of those turnovers, but he still managed to have a solid game around foul issues in the first half. He scored 26 effective points on 10-for-18 shooting (9-for-12 from inside the arc), including 11 in the fourth quarter as part of an instrumental streak where the Celtics made sure they didn’t would not fight for their lives. in the last few minutes.
One important difference in Brown’s turnovers: he was stripped only twice. Three of the other turnovers were offensive fouls, and he went out of bounds once — meaning only two were transition opportunities for the Heat.
5. In his last five games, Malcolm Brogdon scores 16 points on 58.3/68.2/90.0 separate shots – an absurd streak of flame throwing that bumped his season average to 49.3 %. He’s shooting 53.2% from deep in his last 15 games after going 5-for-7 against the Heat.
Al Horford, meanwhile, shot 2-for-4 from three, which actually dropped their 3-point percentage to 55.8% over the last 10 games.
At some point, the stats suggest the Celtics will regress, but they’re generating a lot of good looks. A reporter asked Mazzulla after the game what the Celtics were doing well and what might be a bit lucky.
“Spacing, ball movement and correct play,” Mazzulla said. ” Then I do not know. I don’t really believe in luck. I believe in spacing, ball movement and good play.”
6. If you were wondering, the royalty in attendance — who are in Boston for three days — seemed like they had a great time.
“The prince and princess will be back on Friday,” Mike Gorman joked on NBC Sports Boston.
Boston fans were a little less welcoming.
The Celtics will face the Heat again on Wednesday. It remains to be seen if new Jayson Tatum fans will be in attendance.
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