Big time performances have become a common occurrence for the Boston Celtics this year. Jayson Tatum is averaging over 30 points a night, and Jaylen Brown isn’t far behind him as he pushes to make his second All-Star Game appearance. Their top-notch performances have, in large part, been paired with wins this year, but that wasn’t the case on Friday night.
The Celtics fell to the Miami Heat in an overtime thriller, losing 120-116. Jimmy Butler returned from injury and hit two dagger shots - one in regulation and one in overtime - to help the Heat hand Boston their fifth loss of the year.
Tatum struggled, but Brown put together a brilliant performance. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to enjoy it. In fact, he took responsibility for the loss, saying that he could have done better at getting his teammates involved.
“I gotta do more to find ways to get guys going. I gotta do a little bit to try and get JT going… I could have passed up some shots tonight to get a couple more guys some baskets.”
Brown ended the night with a season-high 37 points, a season-high 14 rebounds, as well as five assists in the Celtics loss. His monster night made up for a 5-of-18 (0-of-7 3PT) shooting performance from Tatum.
The star wing even nailed an incredible game-tying shot in the final moments of regulation but admitted he “didn’t call bank.” However, he did say that the shot “felt good coming off [his] hands.”
But in the end, Boston got in their own way despite Brown’s huge game.
They turned the ball over 20 times, allowing the Heat to score 21 points off those turnovers. It marked their highest total of the season, and it was a flashback to their turnover struggles in the NBA Finals last year. The poor showing even followed an 18-turnover game in their win over the Heat on Wednesday night.
Miami always plays tough, and Brown said that they do a good job of forcing the issue on the defensive end.
“Miami is just a tough defensive team. They’re scrappy, they use their hands well, they set the tone for the game from the jump. And they put pressure on the officiating because they can’t call all of them.”
As a team, the Celtics have cleaned up their turnover issues this season. They are only averaging 13.8, which is the seventh-best mark in the league. However, as I wrote for CelticsBlog, their mishaps often come in bunches. And while they hadn’t directly led to losses for the majority of the season, they cost the Celtics against Miami on Friday night.
And for as poorly as the Celtics played, the Heat still earned the win in a big way. Jimmy Butler returned from injury after missing seven straight games and torched the Celtics. He managed to outduel Brown in regulation and overtime, and the Celtics star sang his praises because of it.
“Jimmy made two tough, tough, tough baskets. That’s just a credit to his work and his skill and his development. He gets going in games like this, on the road, in a hostile environment, against a good team. Jimmy always looking to put the icing on the cake… Jimmy, big-time player, made both of them.”
Butler nailed a contested turnaround jumper in the final seconds of regulation. It would have been the nail in the coffin if not for Brown’s game-tying heroics, and in overtime, Butler made sure to put the Celtics to rest once and for all. He hit an eerily similar middy on the other side of the court, icing the game for Miami.
Boston has been the best offensive team in the league this year, but Butler’s late-game shots proved to be too much in a game where the Celtics faltered. But while their offense may not have shown up as it has in most games this season, Brown said that the Celtics need to treat every game - win or loss - as a good thing.
“I think everything is good. I think everything is a learning experience. I think as we continue to move through the season, we just got to take every game for what it’s worth and learn from it and move forward. Tonight was a slow night for us offensively, but our defense was pretty good. In spots, usually it’s the other way around. But we played pretty solid defensively. We allowed too many offensive rebounds, but we’ll clean that stuff up.”