Wednesday’s NBA playoffs scores and takeaways: Heat flip script on Celtics, Thunder dominate Pelicans

By Jared Weiss, Eric Koreen, Darnell Mayberry and Will Guillory

Heat don’t fully describe what Miami dropped behind the arc in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at TD Garden. The Heat scored 23 3-pointers to secure the victory, even the series 1-1 and overturn the home court advantage.

Miami’s 3 is a team record for a playoff game and just one shy of tying the mark for any game in team history (Dec. 14, 2022, at OKC) .

Tyler Herro, who made six 3s and 24 points, also contributed a career-high 14 assists, passing teammate Jimmy Butler – who had 13 in Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals – for the most in a road playoff game in Heat history.

Later in the evening, the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their series lead to 2-0 with a dominant victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved why he is an MVP contender, scoring a game-high 33 points, while Chet Holgrem chipped in 26 points.

New Orleans – still without injured Zion Williamson – has struggled to find the momentum to compete with OKC’s red-hot offense. All five Thunder starters scored in double figures, with the team shooting 59 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from 3.

OKC became the first NBA team to have all of its points in a playoff game come from players aged 25 or younger. by Opta statistics.

Heat 111, Celtics 101

Series: Tied 1-1

Game 3: Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in Miami

The Heat flips the script

It didn’t look like this series was going to get too competitive after the first game. Miami wasn’t taking 3s, their defense couldn’t really handle the Jays and Boston’s firepower was just too much in the end. But the scenario completely changed on Wednesday. The Heat effectively transformed into the Celtics and vice versa.

This time it was Miami raining 3 seconds, with Herro having one of his best games of the season. Caleb Martin looked like the guy who tore Boston apart in the conference finals last year. So this wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill, lucky eight-seed win.

This raises real questions about whether Boston can hold a strategic advantage as this series continues. Can Kristaps Porziņģis catch the ball and hit a shot against Miami’s active wings, constantly making life difficult for him?

The Celtics’ defensive effort had major gaps and they will need to close out better and find a way to keep up with Herro-Bam Adebayo’s pick and roll. This action torched the Celtics defense from start to finish, so how can Boston adapt? Can Derrick White finally overcome these screens? Will Boston need to start changing more and let Adebayo attack guards?

This was one of those games that reminds you why everyone fears the Heat come playoff time. Coach Erik Spoelstra has shown he can make his team everything it needs to be to earn a playoff victory. The Celtics will need a lot more effort in their possessions and less offensive predictability to take control of this series. — Jared Weiss, Celtics writer

The bet of the underdog

Boston won Game 1 thanks to a 22-12 three-point advantage, and Spoelstra’s plan for Game 2 seemed designed to reverse that scenario. Spoelstra insisted on the show that his team was just taking the shots the Celtics defense was giving up, but taking 15 3-pointers compared to just four 2s in the first quarter was an extreme embrace of adopting the bet of the underdog.

Four Heat players had three or more 3s, led by Herro’s six. Defensively, Miami used a heavy switching scheme designed to entice the Celtics into one-on-one offense. The Celtics scored well in the paint, but couldn’t create the second-chance points to fully capitalize on mismatches.

Spoelstra is not one to sit still strategically. Even after a victory, he tinkers. A name to watch: Nikola Jović. The second-year forward was minus-25 in the opener and had five turnovers Wednesday. He sat out the entire game, which is not unusual. However, without Butler injured, Haywood Highsmith’s perimeter defense looks increasingly important. Jović had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists, so it’s not like he was completely out of the picture.

Spoelstra has to know that his team won’t shoot 54 percent from deep most nights, so he’ll continue to look for margins to exploit. — Eric Koreen, NBA Editor-in-Chief

Thunder 124, Pelicans 92

Series: OKC leads 2-0

Game 3: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET in New Orleans

(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

How the Thunder Won

The Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren tandem combined for 59 points on 22-of-32 shooting to propel the Thunder to a dominant performance. Oklahoma City led by 34 points and never trailed over the final 43 1/2 minutes of the game.

Jalen Williams added 21 points along with seven assists. Unlike the scuffle we saw in Game 1, Oklahoma City’s offense came alive early in Game 2, sparked by 15 early points from Holmgren, who made his first seven shots. The Thunder made 14 of 29 3-pointers (48.3%). They shot just 43.5 percent from the field and made just 10 of 32 3-pointers in the opener.

Oklahoma City’s defense troubled the Pelicans for the second straight game and was responsible for the offensive blowout. The Thunder turned 17 Pelicans turnovers into 22 points. Pelicans star Brandon Ingram scored just 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting after finishing with just 12 points in the opener.

After protecting their home court, the Thunder should now head into New Orleans with extreme confidence as the series heads into Games 3 and 4.

The Pelicans showed no answer for Gilgeous-Alexander. Holmgren looked more comfortable in the second game. And Ingram still can’t get going. — NBA Editor Darnell Mayberry

The Pelicans weren’t prepared for the moment

The Pelicans were one of the most tenacious teams in the NBA this season, as evidenced by the fact that they lead the league with 28 road wins. All year long, they fed the street crowds and performed at the highest level. They looked nothing like this team on Wednesday night. They completely fell apart in every way possible during a Game 2 demolition at the hands of the Thunder. New Orleans turned the ball over 18 times, including a remarkable eight offensive fouls. Ingram made two field goal attempts in the first half. Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren and Williams got what they wanted all night, combining for 80 points on 32-of-49 shooting.

New Orleans didn’t just look like a young team. This looked like a team that was unprepared for the moment. Now he returns home 0-2 and needs a win on Saturday to give himself a chance to restart his season. This one went as badly as he could have imagined. — Will Guillory, Pelicans writer

Thursday’s NBA playoff schedule

Riders at Magic: 7 p.m. ET (Cavs lead 2-0)

Knicks at 76ers: 7:30 p.m. ET (Knicks lead 2-0)

Nuggets among the Lakers: 10 p.m. ET (Nuggets lead 2-0)

Required reading

(Top photo by Tyler Herro and Jaylen Brown: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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