Celtics put on an impressive display of offense; take the Heat down, 112-104
With no Al Horford in the lineup tonight, the Boston Celtics put on an impressive display of basketball and outmatched the Heat, 112-104.
The Celtics dominated the first half with some tremendous defense and ball movement. It was a back and forth first quarter with the Celts taking a 21-19 lead into the 2nd quarter. However, Boston turned it up a notch on defense and forced the Heat to turn the ball over a lot. At one point, the men in green went on a 20-6 run in the quarter and extended their lead up to 14. They continued to move the ball well with Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk leading the way offensively. Bradley led the C's with 11 first half points. Going into the half, the Celts led 48-31, outscoring the Heat 27-12 in the quarter. The Miami Heat also did not hit a single three in the first half after attempting a dozen of them in the first 24 minutes.
Coming out of halftime, the Heat improved offensively and went shot for shot with the Celtics in a back and forth affair. Josh Richardson opened up the floodgates for the Heat from beyond the arc with a trio of three's in the quarter. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside also flipped the switch and began to heat up offensively. Miami scored 42 points in the quarter and the Celtics all of a sudden had a lot of trouble defending Goran Dragic, who had 18 points and 9 assists by the end of the quarter. Boston did very well offensively scoring 35 points in the quarter but defensively their lapses allowed Miami to cut the lead down from 17 to 10. Wayne Ellington hit a moving fadeaway at the end of the quarter that made it an 83-73 game going into the fourth.
Early in the fourth, Marcus Smart nailed a three and dished out two beautiful passes to Kelly Olynyk for buckets that propelled the C's offensively in the right direction. Both Whiteside and Dragic continued to provide trouble for the Celts as they tried to help their team get back into the game. Things got chippy with Whiteside and Tyler Zeller exchanging elbows and Smart throwing himself around the court. However, midway through the fourth Boston put their starters and Marcus Smart in the game down the stretch and they clamped down and closed the game out strong. Miami tried to climb back into the game with some strategic Hack-a-Smart but it failed to work. The Heat and Celts battled back and forth in the quarter but the hole Miami dug themselves was ultimately too deep to dig out of.
The bench unit played really well in a game where they needed to, given that Al Horford was out. Offensively the Celtics looked great all game and the team's chemistry shined with the great ball movement on the floor. Additionally, Boston looked very comfortable as the crowd wasn't really a factor as there were maybe a total of 57 people in the arena tonight in Miami. Nothing out of the ordinary for the Heat crowd as I'm sure they had more important things to do like sipping on Mojitos and going to Pitbull concerts.
For the Celtics, Isaiah Thomas finished with a game high 25 points and 8 assists. Avery Bradley also had an impressive 18 points and 6 rebounds. Jae Crowder looked like his old self with 17 points and 2 steals in 31 minutes of play. Tyler Zeller started in place of Horford and added in 10 points and 7 rebounds of his own. Kelly Olynyk had a great game off the bench chipping in with 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Marcus Smart also added in 12 points from the bench unit as well. Boston shot 11-27 from three (40.7%) and dished out 26 assists as a team. For the Heat, Goran Dragic led the way with 27 points and 17 assists. Hassan Whiteside also had an impressive double-double with 25 points and 17 rebounds. As a team, Miami turned the ball over 13 times and shot an abysmal 6-30 from three (20%).
The Celtics now move to 10-7 and take on the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday back at the TD Garden, tipoff is set for 7:30pm E/T.
Congratulations to Al Horford and his family on the birth of his second daughter and we look forward to seeing him back on the court Wednesday night.
Image Credit: Getty Images/NBA Twitter
Follow Kevin Yazhari on Twitter @KevKevYazhari