The Celtics offense struggled to show up for the matinee start this afternoon, as they took over two minutes to score their first basket and hit only one of their first seven shots. Boston shot a mere 7-for-22 from the field and coughed up 6 turnovers in the opening frame as Miami opened up an early lead that would extend to double-digits early in the second quarter.
The starting unit was ice-cold out of the gate, but none more so than Isaiah Thomas. The All-Star point guard missed his first 9 shots and finished with only 12 points on 4-of-17 shooting. Thomas has been bothered by a sore wrist this week, which may have been affecting his shot.
Just when it looked like the Heat may run away with this one, in comes Evan Turner. His play-making ability and deadly mid-range game proved to be the perfect foil against a Miami squad that blocks off the paint with the shot-swatting Hassan Whiteside. Turner scored 11 points and chipped in 6 assists in the second quarter alone to close the gap and pull Boston back to within striking distance.
Speaking of Whiteside, despite coming off the bench he still managed to flirt with a triple-double after posting 13 points, 15 rebounds and 8 blocks. He'll be a free agent this summer, and games like this show why a lot of teams will be willing to throw money at him, especially since the cap-limited Heat may have difficulty keeping him.
Boston got 49 points from its bench, including 14 from Turner and a team-high 15 from Marcus Smart. Despite some early foul trouble, coach Stevens stuck with Smart, which turned out to be a wise decision.
The game was tightly contested for the bulk of the second half before the Celtics opened up an 11-2 run to go up double-digits heading into the final two minutes. Boston closed the game on a 22-7 run to finish off the Heat by a margin that was hardly indicative of how most of this game was played.
The win gives Boston a two-game cushion over the Heat for the No. 3 seed in the East, while also giving them the head-to-head tie-breaker for the season.