Two days after feeding a lot of frustration, due to a third quarter during which they had taken on water (39-14), sanctioned by an inaugural defeat (118-107), the Celtics have brilliantly corrected the situation in Florida. When they play at this level of intensity and precision, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart have all the fearsome “Big3”. Aggressive, the first set the tone in the first period, scoring 20 (70% shooting success) of his 27 points. The second was not outdone (24 pts, 8 rebounds) and the third multiplied, bordering on the triple-double (24 pts, 12 assists, 9 rebounds). “The collective effort was total tonight“, underlined after the fact Smart, who had to miss the N.1 match due to foot pain and whose return did his team a world of good. Just like that of Al Horford (10 pts), authorized to play after coming out of the Covid protocol.
Butler too alone
“I felt bad for not being able to 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 best defender of the regular season, also author of three interceptions and one against. In the wake of their leaders, but also of his effective substitute Grant Williams (19 pts), the C’s were already well 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 so many points after two quarters in a Playoffs match away from its bases.
Miami, in particular the victim of the insolent address of its opponent behind the arc in the first quarter (9/11, 20/40 in the end), had a start after returning from the locker room, in the wake of Jimmy Butler, who had returned to incandescent, as it was in the first game (41 pts). The winger thus piled up 16 points in the 3rd quarter, to finish with 29 in total (11/18, 6 rebounds), but this time he was too alone to lay the foundations for a possible comeback. Only Gabe Vincent, skillful at long distance (4/8, 14 pts), Victor Oladipo (14 pts) and Tyler Herro (11 pts) timidly took over, Bam Adebayo having been little used inside (6 pts , at 3/6, 9 rbds).
“Hard to overcome”
Learning the lesson of the previous defeat, Boston has never known a moment of weakness, nor left his opponent to believe that he could reverse the situation. Erik Spoelstra has also recognized the superiority of the opponent in this match. “They were driven by a sense of urgency, they imposed the physical fight and above all, they played basketball very well, on both sides of the court.. We could not contain them in defense, they deprived us of rhythm. It was very hard to overcome. In the play-offs, you have to move forward quickly. My players and my staff do not like what we suffered tonight, even if it is only a defeat at this stage. We will have to find solutions quickly“, added the Heat coach who still had to do without Kyle Lowry (hamstring) and saw PJ Tucker, hit in a knee, leave the field in the second half.
After two first rounds of this remake of the 2020 conference final (won by Miami in the Orlando bubble), Boston is indeed making a better impression. And will be in ideal conditions, to try to confirm this trend, during the next two matches in his garden at TD Garden.
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