The Boston Celtics were certainly feeling a sting after their heartbreaking 117-114 loss in overtime in Game 1. They used it as fuel to play hard against the Miami Heat in Game 2.
The first quarter was a tight affair, with the teams trading multiple leads as it finished 31-28 ahead for Boston. The Celtics followed that up with a much stronger second quarter, forcing the Heat into tough shots and outscoring them 29-19.
A lot of that offense was courtesy of Kemba Walker, who looked a bit more like his old self with 14 points, five rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block at halftime. Marcus Smart also continued his strong play with 10 points at the break.
Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler started the first half slower than usual for Miami, and they combined for only 15 points. However, Duncan Robinson dropped 12 and Tyler Herro contributed 11 points as well.
As usual, a double-digit deficit, which at one point in the second quarter was 17 points, didn’t deter Eric Spoelstra’s boys. They went back to basics and used an effective pick and roll to get themselves back into the game.
They cut the lead to single digits at 69-61, and then Jae Crowder hit a tough three pointer as he was fouled and completed the four-point play to cut it to 71-65. A lob to Bam Adebayo on their next possession made the game 71-67. Adebayo completed the and-1 again after that to make it 71-70. They completed their comeback in the ensuing possession after Adebayo made a short jump hook to push the score to 72-71.
The Heat bolstered their offensive barrage with a few big shots from beyond the arc.
By the time the third quarter had ended, the Heat had outscored the Celtics 37-17 and had taken the 84-77 lead. It was their largest lead of the game so far.
You couldn’t blame the Celtics for looking like they didn’t know what hit them heading into the fourth quarter. When Jimmy Butler came into the fourth quarter for the first time with 9:30 left, the Heat still had an 87-82 lead.
Walker hit a big three to get within 89-87. For the next couple of minutes, neither team scored a bucket as they traded traded turnovers and bricked shots. A bucket finally came with 5:36 left as Jaylen Brown picked up an offensive board to tie the game at 89.
A beautiful move from Jayson Tatum gave the Celtics their first lead of the quarter with just under five minutes left in the game at 91-89. Walker pushed it to 94-89 with a big three pointers to cap off a 15-2 run.
The Heat cut it to 94-93 quickly, and then Butler tied the game at 95 with three minutes left. A pair of three throws from Dragic helped them retake the lead at 97-95, and he then hit another three to make it 100-95 with 1:42 left in the game. Butler came up with another huge steal and assisted on the bucket to make it 102-95.
Brown hit a big shot from beyond the arc to make it 102-98, but couldn’t stop Dragic as he nailed a mid-range jumper to make it 104-98.
Brown made another three to make it 104-101 to set up the furious final minute of the game. Butler turned the ball over with 23.6 second left in the game, giving the Celtics a chance to tie the game. Brown finally missed from deep, and Adebayo grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10.6 seconds left. The game ended 106-101.
It almost feels like the Heat like to make things hard for themselves, just so they can show the other team who’s got more heart. No one in Miami will be complaining, though, as this 2-0 lead is huge.
The Heat have something that the Raptors couldn’t find in the previous series against the Celtics, which is a late game two-way closer in Butler.
Jimmy Butler again showing that he doesn’t need to always explode for the team to win, but he is always there in the big moments at the end of the game. You’d think 14 points, four rebounds, three assists and four steals isn’t a great performance form a team’s superstar, then you clearly didn’t watch the game. He was one of the big reasons that the Celtics had 20 turnovers compared to the Heat’s nine.
Butler comes up big when it matters, and he’s proved that the entire postseason.
Dragic led the Heat in scoring with 25 points and Bam Adebayo had a great double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
The Celtics got a combined 89 points from Walker, Tatum, Brown and Smart. Against the Raptors, that would have probably been enough.