The Miami Heat drew first blood in the Eastern Conference finals with a 117-114 overtime win over the Boston Celtics. They made it hard for themselves with a real Jekyll and Hyde performance, scoring 34 points combined in the first and third quarters while blasting out 72 in the second and fourth before outlasting the Celtics in OT.
Brad Stevens and his Boston Celtics will look to level the series in Game 2, which starts on Friday at 7 AM, Manila time.
HOME TEAM: #3 Boston Celtics (0-1)
Can Marcus Smart keep it up? Smart, who’s not really known for his offense had a memorable performance in Game 1 that reminded fans of his days in Stillwater, as he scored 26 points with six 3-pointers.
Smart is averaging just 14.2 points per game in the playoffs, but he’s elevated that to 21.7 points over the last three games.
Thinking about Smart’s offensive production should take a backseat to the great performance of Jayson Tatum, who had 30 points and four 3-pointers. It appears that he’ll have more fun scoring in this series than against the Toronto Raptors, despite the presence of Jimmy Butler. He showed in Game 1 that he can dominate the Heat on his own.
However, Kemba Walker needs to be more efficient after he went 6-of-19 from the field to finish with 19 points in Game 1. He’s had some struggles against both the Heat and the Toronto Raptors, and if he gets back to form the Celtics will be much more dangerous.
Overall, the Celtics had a solid offensive game in the series opener, as they posted 116.5 points per 100 possessions — the best they’ve had since the first round.
Boston also needs to tighten up its defense in the shaded area, where the Celtics were outscored by the Heat, 48-26.
ROAD TEAM: #5 Miami Heat (1-0)
The Heat are hard to kill. Jimmy Butler was again the difference maker and was helped by Jae Crowder, Goran Dragic, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro. Clutch go-ahead buckets from Butler in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Butler finished with 20 points, while Crowder and Dragic had 22 and 29 points, respectively. Herro came off the bench and fired 12 points with a pair of triples.
The Heat knew where to attack Boston’s defense. As stated earlier, they got lots of buckets in the shaded area, confident that Daniel Theiss wasn’t going to suddenly transform into Dikembe Mutombo. Don’t expect the Heat to shy away from that tactic in Game 2, while also trying to shoot a lot from downtown. In Game 2, the Heat buried 16 3-pointers.
We can’t let this preview end without mentioning that block by Adebayo on Tatum’s shot that highlighted the one thing the Heat have that Boston doesn’t: a solid rim protector.
The Heat just don’t give up, and now that they have the series lead, expect them to shoot with even more confidence from long range. Miami will knock down at least 15 threes and win Game 2, 118-112.