No Goran Dragić, no Hassan Whiteside, no Justise Winslow, no James Johnson, no problem, right? Wrong.
Boston continued its trend of making seemingly easy games unnecessarily difficult. Despite Miami missing four starters, Miami rode Kelly Olynyk’s hottest night of the season to a 90-89 victory after a missed jumpshot by Kyrie Irving at the buzzer.
As has been the case on occasion this season, Jaylen Brown was huge in the first quarter, scoring 12 points in the opening frame.. He came out aggressively by attacking the basket in transition, making open threes and passing with purpose. Brown finished with 16 points on 60% shooting. Boston ended the period with a 24-15 lead, but the first quarter didn’t go without a sweat. Fans collectively held their breath when Tatum dove for a loose ball and came up in pain, gripping his right hand. Thankfully, Tatum merely dislocated his pinky, and returned later in the game, finishing with 11 points.
He looked just fine right here:
Not much went well after this. The Heat hung around throughout the first half despite not being able to hit, well, anything. Once again, the second quarter plagued Boston, as the offense went stagnant. Boston received an unexpected boost when Brad Stevens responded with Guerschon Yabusele. The Dancing Bear came out and
calmly knocked down two triples. Boston can’t afford to leave him on the bench any longer if it means missing out on celebrations like this:
The game took a dark turn in the third quarter when the Heat outscored the Celtics 26-15. During the period, Miami went to a zone defense which helped them produce a 15-2 run. Behind this stretch, the Celtics could not figure out their own offense, and the quality of their defense tumbled as well.
The fourth quarter didn’t go much better as Al Horford fouled out with a little under 8 minutes left in the period. Referee Marc Davis whistled him for an initial foul to which Horford took vehement exception. The next possession saw Horford getting called for a very questionable foul that ended his night early.
It certainly didn’t help that Kelly Olynyk was absolutely unconscious from the floor. In his first return to Boston, Olynyk poured in a career-high 32 points, including a career-high six 3-pointers. He was hitting wide-open threes, contested looks in the lane, and everything in between. Olynyk clearly took the concept of “revenge game” very seriously. He simply could not be stopped. Josh Richardson helped out as well, chipping in 19 points.
Boston responded to Olynyk’s uncharacteristic burst with an uncharacteristic burst of their own: Marcus Smart. Smart put up 15 points while shooting 5-for-9 from the 3-point line. His well-timed shots offset the crippling effect of watching Kelly Olynyk attempt to rip the hearts out of every Celtic fan watching, but that only lasted for so long. Eventually, the Canadian Sensation (I just made that up) did too much for Boston to have an answer.
Kyrie Irving scored 33 points, and he had a chance to win it at the buzzer before settling for a contested midrange pull-up jumpshot.
Boston doesn’t have much time to reflect on this loss; they’re back in action tomorrow in New York to face the Knicks on TNT.