With an overwhelming and incontestable victory from start to finish, the Boston Celtics equalized the East final on Thursday (1-1) against a Miami Heat who were totally outmatched and barely put up any resistance (102-127).
Marcus Smart in his splendid comeback (24 points, 9 rebounds and 12 assists), Jayson Tatum (27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists) and Jaylen Brown (24 points and 8 rebounds) shone in a Celtics far from doubts and the fatigue from his first game of the series (118-107).
Boston melted a Heat that lost 25 points at halftime, who went down 34 in the last quarter and who suffered from the great success of the Celtics throughout the game: 51.2% in field goals, 20 of 40 in triples and 21 of 23 free throws.
As if that artillery wasn’t enough, the Celtics also excelled on defense and limited the Heat to a poor 10 of 34 on 3-pointers.
A fundamental and differential aspect with respect to the first game was the return to the Celtics of the Dominican Al Horford and Marcus Smart, who were absent due to coronavirus and a sprain, respectively.
Smart gave Boston back its characteristic intensity and aggressiveness, and Horford, who is experiencing a second youth in these playoffs, added 10 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal and a block.
In the Heat, Jimmy Butler was left alone too much in attack (29 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists).
Kyle Lowry was again out in Miami, which also saw PJ Tucker leave the track with a knock to the knee.
Mirage before the beating
As if thrown from the inertia of the first game, the Heat achieved a promising +10 in less than five minutes thanks to the effort of Tucker and 3-pointers by Strus.
However, that local boot immediately evaporated.
With a gigantic 6-27 run to close the first quarter, the Celtics radically changed the sign of the game with Smart sacrificing himself on both ends of the court, with Brown showing off his chest in attack (11 points) and, above all, with an impressive 9 of 11 in triples (35-24).
With their mouths open and without the ability to react, the Heat stayed despite the fact that Herro tried to reactivate them in the second quarter.
That attempt was unsuccessful as Tatum, who went to the bench in the first quarter with two fouls, returned to the court with a vengeance and extended the Celtics’ lead to extremes of great concern to the Heat.
Boston came to win by 29 points before the break with an offensive exhibition by Tatum (17 points in the second quarter) and with an impenetrable defense that, with Smart and Williams in front, hindered each and every one of the Heat’s steps in stroke.
In addition, Miami disappointed with a very weak first half for a team that has also made defense one of the pillars of its personality.
The convincing 45-70 after the first half clearly reflected the show of the Celtics, who made 58.5% of their shots (40.9% of the Heat) and 63.2% of their triples (31.6% of Miami).
Boston flirted with +30 early in the third quarter thanks to baskets like a fabulous two-plus-one by Smart from behind the board.
But the Heat reacted
Underpinning their defense, which alternated zone and individual, and with a Butler determined to put the team on his back, Miami reduced the difference and began to build morale to try the comeback (65-82 with 3.46 to play).
In that delicate moment, the Celtics did not get carried away by nerves and Smart and Tatum closed the quarter recovering exactly the advantage they had at halftime (71-96).
There were no more desperate attempts by the Heat, who, resigned, reserved their starters in the fourth quarter for a series that now travels to Boston to play Game 3 on Saturday and Game 4 on Monday.