5 mostly unhappy but still rational points about Celtics-Heat

© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

5 mostly unhappy but still rational points about Celtics-Heat

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5 mostly unhappy but still rational points about Celtics-Heat

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They were the two most important games of the season, but they ended as 96 minutes of frustration for the Celtics. The Miami Heat made all the plays and hit all the shots they needed to sweep the two-game set at the Garden, leaving the Celtics on the verge of falling into the play-in tournament. The Celtics played better in Tuesday night’s game than they did on Sunday afternoon, but in the end the results were the same: bad.

1. No defense, no wins

No matter how well the Celtics shot the ball, it wasn’t enough. They scored 245 total points in the two contests and had nothing to show for it because Miami totaled 259 points. That included halves of 79, 62 and 67 points.

On Sunday, in game one, Boston was 45 of 83 (54.2%) and 14 of 38 (36.8%) from downtown. In game two, the numbers were 46 of 88 (52.3%) and 18 of 37 (48.6%) from the arc. They had 29 and 31 assists, respectively.

None of that mattered in the end because the Cs could not defend against the Miami attack. The Heat made 47 of 82 (57.3%) and 16 of 35 threes (45.7%) in game one. In the rematch, they sank 48 of 81 (59.3%) and 16 of 30 threes (53.3%).

Last night, Boston was within 76-73 with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, when Miami ripped off a 17-4 run. When the Celtics tried to close the gap in the fourth, Goran Dragic stopped that with three straight threes, including this one from way outside to beat the shot clock.

That shot was well-defended, but it didn’t matter. By then, the Heat had been “out of the box” (as Tommy used to say) for almost eight quarters.

2. Kemba and Evan

All the resting on back-to-back games has paid off for Kemba Walker, who’s been on fire offensively.

Last night he had a game-high (and season-best) 36 points on 14 of 27 shooting. He made 4 of 11 from distance and added 7 rebounds and 4 assists in 38 minutes. Although the Heat attacked him on defense, Kemba does have his methods.

There’s only one problem with Kemba’s resurgence: timing.

And a quick mention of Evan Fournier, who’s also been en fuego since getting back to normal after Covid. Per NBA Stats, in his last five games, he’s averaged 21 points and made 41 of 66 FGAs (62.1%). He’s also shot a ridiculous 61.8% from the arc (21 of 34) while averaging 4.6 boards and 5.2 dimes during that stretch.

3. Why are Carsen and Semi playing?

Two minutes into the game, Kemba took a hit to the shoulder, and went to the locker room for a few minutes. Brad Stevens turned not to Payton Pritchard, but little-used Carsen Edwards. Even after Kemba returned, Carsen stayed in – and Jimmy Butler scored with ease over both. Pritchard didn’t see action until the second quarter. For the game, PP played 13 minutes with 7 points, while Edwards was slightly below 13 and contributed 2 points and 3 assists.

Then Semi Ojeleye came in for a couple of minutes, his first action in a while. But why not Romeo Langford? He’s been buried, but is still a better option than Semi, whose only stat was a single rebound.

Semi’s brief stint coincided with the Celtics going scoreless over the last three minutes of the half. Huh.

Brad’s rotations and personnel usage have been suspect all season. Why he gave any minutes to Carsen and Semi in a must-win situation at this point in the schedule is just baffling.

4. Refs

The officiating has been a problem this season, in large part because several experienced refs have gone into the health and safety protocols for Covid-19, according to reports. They’ve been replaced by inexperienced newcomers, and it shows.

You might look at the box score and say, “What’s the problem? Both teams were called for 21 fouls. Heat shot 22 free throws to the Celtics’ 17.”

But 10 of those Miami fouls were called in the fourth quarter, when the Heat were up big and the refs had shifted into keep-the-game-close mode. The Cs attempted 9 FTs in the quarter, more than half their total. But it was too little, too late.

Don’t take my word for it. Just scan this variety of tweets, several from media members. Beat writers seldom complain about the refs, so when they do, it’s a dead giveaway. The first tweet shows Bam Adebayo slamming into Grant Williams; no offensive foul, and Grant gets tagged with a phantom call.

5. Tristan

Not a good night for Tristan Thompson, who started at center and was helpless against Bam Adebayo. TT played 28 minutes, was 1 for 4 and 2 points, grabbed just 3 boards and was called for 4 fouls.

Bam played 34 minutes and shot 10 of 15 for 22 points. He tacked on 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks. Bam was guarded directly by Tristan on 27 possessions, in which the Miami big shot 5 of 8, scored 11, and dished 4 assists.

Thompson didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter. Let’s see if he can do better tonight in his former home, Cleveland.

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