MIAMI ( Associated Press) — His team was down 10 points early. Coach Ime Udoka made no secret of his disappointment, sending a simple message to the Celtics.
“Wake up!” he ordered them.
They heard it. The Eastern Conference finals are now tied and the Celtics will travel to Boston with home-court advantage in the series.
Jayson Tatum scored 27 points for a Celtics that looked overwhelming in the first half after the initial laziness and ended up beating the Miami Heat 127-102 on Thursday to even the series at one win a side.
Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown had 24 points apiece. Smart came within a rebound of a triple-double, adding 12 assists and nine rebounds.
“These guys have pride. They saw a golden opportunity that we kind of squandered (during the first match) and they thought we could do much better,” said Udoka. “And we did it tonight.”
Grant Williams scored 19 points for Boston, which used an unanswered 17-point drive late in the first quarter to take control of the game. That streak was fueled by five 3-pointers on six possessions.
Payton Pritchard and Al Horford each had 10 points for the Celtics.
“Today we had a lot of confidence,” explained Pritchard.
Jimmy Butler had 29 points in 32 minutes for Miami, which fell to 7-1 at home in these playoffs. Gabe Vincent and Victor Oladipo each had 14 points, while Tyler Herro added 11 for the Heat.
“It’s just one game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “That’s something experienced players in the locker room and on our staff know. We don’t like it, but they played extremely well. There are two really good teams here and we will have to adjust some things.”
The Celtics, who are now 4-0 in post-loss games during these playoffs, took 20 shots from 3-point range, compared to 10 for Miami.
Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday in Boston.
“All losses are the same, it doesn’t matter if it’s by one point or by 20,” Vincent said. “We have to regroup, redraw the plans and be ready for the next game.”