Tuesday evening would see the Miami Heat both virtually and geographically host the Boston Celtics in Orlando under a haze of fluorescent pinks and blues on the large format DisneyWorld TV screens. The Heat started off strong behind the three-point shooting of Jae Crowder and Duncan Robinson as Miami got off to a quick start. Bam Adebayo provide a handful on the inside also as Sunday’s hot shooting form from the Portland game had seemingly dried up for Boston in the first quarter.
The Heat shot 54% from the field in the first quarter as they established a 33-28 lead. With Miami without Jimmy Butler who was a late scratch with less than an hour before tipoff, the Heat would look to score from multiple outlets. Duncan Robinson, Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk, Jae Crowder and co. stepped up to the challenge early playing harder and more determined than the Celtics.
Enes Kanter was a bright spot for Boston from the bench, nabbing 3 offensive rebounds for putbacks as he bullied former Celtic Kelly Olynyk under the basket. The second quarter of Celtics basketball was punctuated by a mix of sloppy plays, as turnovers, errant passes and defensive lapses crept in.
The Celtics were fortunate to keep pace with the hot shooting Heat and stop the lead from ballooning. Boston managed to get some good looks behind bench unit players Brad Wanamaker and Semi Ojeleye who stepped up to make timely three pointers to keep things close-ish with Miami who led all half highlighted by 10-24 from three. With the Celtics starters & Smart returning for the final 3 minutes of the half Miami extended the lead with a 10-0 lead spearheaded by Bam Adebayo over the Small Ball C’s 51-63 after one half of play.
Jayson Tatum’s shooting and Gordon Hayward’s aggressiveness would pace the Celtics into the third quarter as the pair made it into double digits just as Boston ramped up the D and forced Miami into a string of turnovers.
Jaylen Brown also got into the act as Boston clawed back into the game led by a staunch defensive effort. Brown showed that distinct aggressive mindset to help fuel the team on a 13-1 run in the third.
With the Celtics playing catchup, they would have to come from behind but that would prove difficult as they were in all kinds of foul trouble before the fourth quarter even got underway. Marcus Smart picked up his sixth foul in the third and Jayson Tatum was forced to play with 5 fouls. Everything seemed to be going against the C’s in this one until Kemba Walker hit a running miracle shot as the third quarter expired.
Miami kept bombing away into the final stanza as the 4th place Heat provided a good test as a potential Eastern conference playoff opponent. At the end other end the Celtics kept attacking the rim highlighted by the play of Jaylen Brown, Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis.
With the Celtics clawing back to within 4, with 3 minutes to go, a series of bumbled calls and missed plays saw the game slip away as Duncan Robinson’s fifth three pointer was the nail in the coffin. No time for feeling sorry for themselves though, the Celtics face Brooklyn tomorrow night.