MIAMI — The Eastern Conference finals' Game 2 was just a few minutes into its second game. Boston CelticsCould be in trouble
They allowed Miami's shooters to score three quick 3-pointers. They allowed the Heat multiple second chances. Robert WilliamsIt was awkward to defend in space, and Miami kept making him (and Boston) pay.
The first quarter's 5 minutes, 14 second mark is reached. Grant WilliamsChecked into the game. This game, and the entire series, was fundamentally redesigned.
Boston totally dominated Miami in the last 17 minutes of the second half. Williams went on a 57/27 run, while Boston never left the floor. This led to a 127/102 win in front of a sellout crowd at FTX Arena.
The win brought the series to a tie at a game each.
“He just [has come]”He's come a long ways since his first year,” said the Celtics forward. Jayson TatumGrant Williams was the Celtics' leading scorer with 27 points. “He has worked hard on his game and he's become somebody we trust to catch it at half-court.
“He sees an opportunity, takes it to its hole, and makes the right play. He did exactly that.
Boston spent just 48 hours between its Game 1 loss against Miami Tuesday night, and the tip-off for Game 2 on Thursday. It expressed quiet confidence in its potential to bounce back. The Celtics could have cited winning three quarters in the first match, but were defeated by Miami 39-14 in the third.
They also received a pair starters back Marcus SmartAnd Al HorfordHe was injured in his midfoot and was not able to play Game 1.
The Celtics didn't really get it right until Boston departed from their starting five, which had been a dominant unit of five men all season, midway through the first half. After Ime Udoka's quick timeout, the Celtics began to rebound but Grant Williams, who had been playing in the four previous games, arrived and ignited the fire that fuelled Boston's play on both ends.
Heat center: “They came out and hit our mouths and we didn't know what to do.” Bam Adebayo said.
The Celtics suddenly started flying at both ends of court. They were spacing the floor offensively and hit 9-of-11 shots from 3-point range within the first quarter. They scrambled to Miami’s shooters and were forced to go 2-for-8 in the final minutes of the first quarter and 3-for-15 for the remainder of the half.
Boston led 45-45 at the halftime break. The final 24 minute were an elementary exercise that Boston needed to end the series.
Ime Udoka, Celtics coach, said that these lineups were effective because they “spaced the floor well”. “We were able to tackle some match-ups we wanted and keep Adebayo out of the way. [PJ]Tucker and some of these guys. Rob has his strengths, and Rob has his limitations.
“We had success against Milwaukee, Brooklyn and other cities using Al and Grant lineups. They can spread it out so we can attack multiple angles. So [it created]There were many open shots and many open threes. He got going and also opened up the lanes to our drivers.
Smart returned with a flawless performance on both ends. Smart is well-known for his defense and was awarded the NBA Defensive Player Of The Year award. However, it was his offense and his calm influence on Boston that were missed in Game 1.
The Celtics' point guard was back on the court and they went from having 19 turnovers in Game 1, to only 10 in Game 2, for a total score of nine Heat points. Smart ended with 24 points and nine rebounds, 12 assists, and only one turnover after 40 minutes.
The Celtics shot 51% from the field and made 20 of their 40 3-point attempts.
“[I take]Smart spoke highly of Smart's point guard play. Smart said, “That's what my entire career has been about. This is what I was drafted to do. I waited to be called. I consider myself blessed to be in the position I am in to be able to show the world what I can do as a point guard.
Boston's first-half dominance was not just on the offensive end. It was also no coincidence that Smart and Horford, one its most versatile defensive big men, were back on the court.
According to ESPN's Stats, Smart was the last defender on the field. Miami was 0-4 with four turnovers in that dominant first period. Horford was, however, the primary defender. Smart was, however, the last defender. Jimmy ButlerSmart was sidelined in Game 1, and Butler was there for 28 of the 46 plays. Smart was Smart's guard and Butler only took four shots.
Butler played another strong game and finished with 29 points, shooting 11-for-18. He made just eight free throws in the second half, compared to 18.
Smart stated that Jimmy was a warrior man. “Jimmy's been doing this for a long while. He is an expert on the game. He is able to recognize his strengths. He is able to see the strengths of his team. It's always going be tough to match up with a guy like Jimmy who has an IQ of 91.
“For me, my mission was to make him miserable. We knew that he would make some good shots. He would have to work hard for those shots if he did. This is where I was born.”
Miami was left scrambling for its pieces. The Heat have won just one quarter through the eight first games of the series. They were also outscored 36 times in the seven remaining.
Even worse: P.J. TuckerAfter suffering a left knee contusion, he left the game during the third quarter and didn't return. Kyle LowryHis fourth straight game was canceled because of a left-hamstring strain.
Erik Spoelstra, Heat coach said to Tucker that he would “ask” him and he would be “good to go.”
Boston is aware that its work is not done. The Celtics won and lost with the Milwaukee BucksFor the Eastern Conference semifinals, the team won the first six games before winning the second consecutive game to end the series at TD Garden.
The Celtics realize that they won't be able to afford the luxury of playing against the Heat in Game 3 on Saturday night.
Butler stated, “They tried to embarrass me.” They did embarrass our team. “They did embarrass us.
“We have a difficult job to do in order to win over there. We can also do it if they did it.