With the Prince and Princess of Wales courtside, Jayson Tatum put forth a royal performance Wednesday night.
Tatum erupted for 28 in the first half and 49 in the game, powering the Celtics to a 134-121 victory over the Miami Heat at TD Garden. The win is their fifth straight and 14th in the last 15 games, as they improved to 18-4 on the season.
The Celtics shot 55.4 percent from the floor and 48.9 percent from 3, racking up 32 assists.
Tatum got the action started – attacking the rim relentlessly and also catching fire from distance – and Miami simply couldn’t keep up. He scored six points in the opening minute, on a dunk and four-point play, as the Celtics built an early 20-6 lead. The Heat responded with a 21-5 flurry to take the lead, but Boston regrouped and built a 38-35 edge through one.
The Celtics shot 66.7 percent and the Heat 60 percent through the first quarter. Defense was optional, but the shooting was quite scintillating.
Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo helped the Heat stay afloat, but Tatum and Jaylen Brown (26 points) gave the Celtics plenty of juice to build a 68-60 halftime edge. Tatum finished plus-21 in the half. About all that went wrong was a missed dunk in the final seconds, when he didn’t get a foul call he felt he deserved.
If William and Kate enjoy offense, they likely had a blast. Fans chanted “USA!” when they showed them on the Jumbotron, but they didn’t seem to mind.
Malcolm Brogdon (21 points) added 8 in the half and Derrick White and Marcus Smart chipped in 6 apiece, but the shorthanded Heat had 30 points in the paint. Playing without Jimmy Butler and Victor Oladipo, they even gave Udonis Haslem some minutes in the first half.
He did all he could, but the “Kornet Kontest” proved insurmountable.
Miami made some noise early in the third, benefitting from a questionable charge call on Brown in the opening minute. Instead of an and-one, it gave him his fourth foul and sent him back to the bench.
Fortunately for the Celtics, Tatum did not have four fouls, and he continued to make the Heat pay. Birthday boy “Prince” Grant Williams dove to corral a loose ball, which set up a timely Tatum 3. Tatum swished another 3 moments later, pushing the margin to 78-70 with 8:53 left in the third.
Tatum hit the deck himself, setting up a White dunk that helped the Celtics take a 102-96 edge into the fourth. Defense was still essentially nonexistent, but it was an entertaining battle nonetheless. Tatum was up to 41, but Miami was still within striking distance.
He returned with 6:16 left in the fourth, and the Celtics up four, and swished a contested 3 moments later to extend the margin to 126-117 with 3:42 remaining.
The Heat ran out of steam, and Tatum and the Celtics prevailed.