Going for their 17th straight win, it looked for a while like the Celtics were going to replicate the Dallas game: After trailing the Miami Heat all night, the Cs came storming back in the fourth quarter and got as close as a single point. But this time, the home team kept their poise and never let the Celts grab the lead. Boston didn’t shoot well all night (35-84, 41.7%), didn’t get enough stops in crunch time, and fell to the hosts, 104-98.
The Game Flow
The Celtics came in having won five in a row in Miami and eight straight overall against the Heat. Aron Baynes was in the starting lineup to match size with Hassan Whiteside.
The Cs opened the scoring with a pair of Kyrie driving hoops, only to see Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters combine for 11 straight points. Boston cut the lead to 11-8, but when Whiteside slammed one, Miami’s margin grew to 19-10. Mook Morris and Jaylen Brown both hit triples to creep to within three before the Heat closed the quarter with a 8-0 run to lead 27-16 after 12 minutes. Boston shot just 7-22 for the quarter, while Miami was 11-21.
The Celts stayed cold in the second, typified by an early possession where they got two offensive boards but managed to miss three straight jumpers. Meanwhile, Dragic and Wayne Ellington combined for eight consecutive points and the Heat lead ballooned to 37-21. When Tyler Johnson (16 on the night) made a long jumper, Miami was up 48-30, but Jaylen and Jayson Tatum (10 points in the period) each hit triples to keep the Celts afloat. When Al Horford made a short jumper in the paint (his first points of the game), the Celtics were within 10 with 30 seconds left. However, Dragic canned a trey to give Miami a 54-41 lead heading to intermission.
Adding to Boston’s woes, they were outrebounded in the first half, 28-19.
Miami went cold to start the third quarter, and when Horford made his first three in a long while, the Cs were within eight. Again, the Celts slid back down the hill as three different Heat combined on a 6-0 run to rebuild their lead to 14. The Celtics rallied back with six straight points, capped by a Morris jumper off a sweet drive-and-kick assist from Marcus Smart. While Dragic cooled off in the third, Waiters posted 10 points in the quarter. Morris led the Cs with seven in the frame, but Miami again held a comfortable 79-63 lead at the end of the quarter.
The beat went on in the early fourth, as Miami kept a double-digit lead. But the Celts were getting some calls and the Heat were in the penalty with nine minutes remaining. It was 91-77 with 6:40 remaining when, for the first time all evening, the Cs found a rhythm. Triples by Tatum and Terry Rozier keyed a sudden 13-point run that drew the Cs to within one at 91-90.
There was one crazy sequence where Rozier made a steal but missed a layup, retrieved the ball and lost it; at the other end Tatum volleyball-spiked a layup attempt by Johnson; finally, Jaylen dropped in a Euro-step layup.
Just when it looked like the Cs’ momentum would carry them home, Waiters hit a three-pointer that bounced off the rim, hit the top surface of the backboard, and fell through. He made another triple on the next possession, and it was 97-90. Killer.
Meanwhile, Horford missed two free throws and Jaylen overthrew a lead pass on a fast break. When Whiteside tipped in a Miami miss with 1:10 left, the Heat were up 99-92. Kyrie answered with a driving layup. Miami got an extra possession when Rozier lost a rebound out of bounds, and it proved costly as Waiters dunked the inbounds pass. Again, Kyrie answered by tipping in his own miss.
The Celts then fouled intentionally until the bitter end, but Dragic made 5-6 at the stripe and time ran out.
- Dragic killed the Celts in the first 24 minutes, scoring 20 points on 6-9 shooting (2-3 threes) and making all six attempts at the foul line. He finished with 27 points.
- Waiters dominated the second half with 18 points, and for the game was 11-24 (4-10 threes) with 26 points.
- As a team, the Heat were 40-81 (49.4%).
- Tatum shot 5-11 (3-4 threes) and totaled 18 points, with several highlight reel plays.
- The Boston bench bounced back from recent woes. Morris had 14 points to lead the second unit’s total of 34.
- Although Kyrie led Boston with 23 points on 11-22 from the floor, he wasn’t himself. Through three, Kyrie made just 5-14 and was missing shots he normally makes, especially in the restricted area.
- The Celts uncharacteristically lost the boards, 48-37.
What the Hell Just Happened?
- For probably the first time as a Celtic, Kyrie went to the line on a shooting foul and missed both.
- Jaylen was called for a flagrant-1 foul after accidentally elbowing Dragic in the jaw. Brown had the ball and was trying to swing his arms through while the Heat guard was crowding him. It always used to be a basketball move that was just a common foul until video review began taking over the way the game is officiated.
Ooh, sorry Kelly.
I swear this was a three, but they called it a two.
Almost made it back.
Tweet of the Night
Red’s Army’s own KJ Kourafas was on the money with this pregame prediction. Unfortunately.