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A royal win: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Heat

Boston set about a revolution against a longtime pesky opponent in Miami

Royals Take in Boston Celtics vs Miami Heat Photo by Erin Clark/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

1. One could say this was a win worthy of royalty for the Boston Celtics over the Miami Heat. Fine, one did say it. But that’s the last joke you’re going to get about the royals being in attendance…maybe.

In reality, the Heat have given the Celtics fits for the last few years. Miami’s different zones have caused Boston lots of problems, as has the Heat’s ability to junk up the game.

Not this time. This time the Celtics came to play and scored with ease throughout the game. Jayson Tatum led the way, and we’re going to cover his night in depth, but five Celtics were in double-figures in points and the team had 32 assists.

Another night, another dominant offensive performance. A crowning achievement, if you will. OK…that was the last one...perhaps.

2. Jayson Tatum generally prefers to feel his way into games. Jaylen Brown tends to be the Celtics first-quarter scorer. Tatum usually picks it up later in the first and gets rolling in the middle quarters. In this one, Tatum had it going from the game’s opening basket. This was a nice cut and a great find by Al Horford to get Tatum an easy one:

Next time down, Tatum got a four-point play, and the feeling was a special night was inbound:

No idea what Tyler Herro is doing here, but it’s not a great idea to let Tatum just step into an open triple:

At his age, Udonis Haslem has no chance against Tatum in isolation, especially not with Max Strus the only one back at the rim:

All in all, 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting for Tatum in the first quarter.

3. In the second quarter, Tatum kept the good times rolling. First, his gravity helped open up Malcolm Brogdon for a drive. Normally, Haywood Highsmith would pinch in to help here, but he’s not going to leave Tatum. That leaves the lane open for Brogdon:

Tatum doesn’t get to the offensive glass a lot, but this was a nice rebound followed by the spin for the putback:

This is the classic Tatum step-back three here:

With Bam Adebayo pulled out to the opposite corner and Duncan Robinson guarding him, Tatum has an open invitation to the rim that he gladly RSVPs:

28 first-half points on 9-of-14 shooting for Tatum.

4. The worry is that halftime will cool a scorer off. No such worries for Jayson Tatum on Wednesday night. With Bam Adebayo making his back on defense, Max Strus drops to protect the paint. But that’s way too much space for Tatum in transition:

If there’s no big back, Tatum is going to the rim in transition. He simply overpowers the Miami defense here:

Offensive players sometimes seem to forget how long Tatum is. This is a great steal followed by a ridiculous finish:

Tatum wasn’t credited with an assist on this play, which is egregious. But when the superstar is willing to hit the floor, everyone else will too. Great stuff here:

13 more points in the third quarter for Tatum. He was at 41 points on 13-of-21 shooting through three quarters.

5. The fourth quarter didn’t feature as much scoring from Tatum, but he still put his stamp on the game, simply by being on the floor.

Tatum has done good work from the nail against the Miami zone over the years. On this play, he gets to that spot, which causes the zone to overload to him. That opens up Al Horford for the three:

You would think Max Strus would know not to drift too far away from Tatum by now, but alas:

Tatum does nothing but exist on this play. But his gravity pulls Kyle Lowry up from the baseline. That opens up the backdoor cut for Jaylen Brown to finish the alley-oop from Marcus Smart:

When Miami went man-to-man, they were putting two on the ball. Instead of having Tatum act at the play initiator, the Celtics used him as the screener in these situations. That resulted in this pick-and-pop triple that finished off the Heat:

49 points, 11 rebounds, three assists (should have been four) and two steals. For at least one night, Boston was governed by a king again, as the potential MVP reigned.

(Sorry. Couldn’t help it!)

6. Much like ruling an empire where the sun never sets, it takes more than one man to achieve victory. Boston got contributions up and down the roster. Jaylen Brown and Malcolm Brogdon both topped 20 points, while Marcus Smart and Derrick White did their all-around thing. Even the non-Brogdon reserves chipped in. Let’s spend some time with the rest of the guys for the remainder of the Takeaways.

7. Jaylen Brown is such a fluid, explosive athlete that he makes it look so easy sometimes. Brown turned on the jets here and was at the rim before Miami could even come close to setting their defense:

Same sort of thing here from Brown. He’s attacking before the Heat can get back and get set and it results in an easy layup:

Because he was in foul trouble for most of the game, Brown had fresh legs late. That allowed him to rise and explode off this great pass from Marcus Smart. A royal flush, if you’ll allow it:

8. Malcolm Brogdon might give the Celtics that additional zone-buster they need against Miami and other zone-heavy teams. This one is more of a broken scramble than a true zone, but Brogdon is still valuable as a late-clock outlet:

You beat a zone by getting inside of it for baskets or by spacing out beyond where the zone will extend. Brogdon does the latter here:

This play featured the former, as Derrick White drove the gap and kicked back out to Brogdon:

It was sort of like Boston had a declaration of independence from Miami’s zone defense on Wednesday night.

9. The ball keeps moving and popping for the Celtics. That’s exciting on a night where Jayson Tatum could have played ISO ball on a million possessions. Boston had 32 assists on 46 hoops. That’s how you keep everyone involved.

Pass, cut, screen, pass, kick, splash:

Marcus Smart is usually the one setting guys up. On this play, he benefits from Boston continuing to back cut the Heat zone:

Grant Williams continues to draw hard closeouts and he continues to drive them with great success. This is a terrific find to the opposite wing on the baseline drive:

Drive-and-kick, then drive-and-kick again. Nice pass out by Jaylen Brown and it never gets old watching Derrick White drop in the triples with regularity now:

10. On a night where the Celtics played in front of literal royalty, they put on a show. Jayson Tatum was great, Jaylen Brown was also terrific (especially so, given the foul trouble) and others stepped up. Against an opponent that has given them all sorts of troubles over the last few years, it was good to see Boston step up. Just like they did in 1773, but this time it was for a Boston Three Party.

At the expense of royally ruining a good bit, we’ll just say the Celtics need to do it again next time out. The Heat are sticking around in Boston for the second game of the mini-series, as the Celtics look to stretch this new win streak to six games. Let’s hope there’s another effort fit for a king on Friday.

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