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Friday, June 24, 2022

The Celtics load up, pounding 127-102 of the Heat to tie the former finals 1-1

So what do the Boston Celtics look like when mostly full? Like outright trouble for the Miami Heat.

With Marcus Smart and Al Horford back in their mix after Tuesday night’s series-opening defeat in these best-of-seven Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics took the heats from 40 points to 127-102 during the first half. gave. Win Thursday Night at the FTX Arena.

After suffering their first home loss this season after seven such victories, the Heat fell back 29 in the first half and never found a foothold again.

While it was Jason Tatum leading for the Celtics with 27 points, it was also Smart and Jaylen Brown, each scoring 24 for Boston, with Horford providing stability at both ends.

Jimmy Butler, following Tuesday’s 41-point performance in a 118-107 Game 1 win, this time led the heats with 29 sitting out of the fourth quarter, by the time matters had been decided.

While the Celtics returned to their primary rotation, the Heat were without Kyle Lowry for the fourth game in a row due to a hamstring strain.

Now with the advantage of homecourt, the Celtics will host the next two matches of the series, starting at 8:30 pm on Saturday at TD Garden.

Five degrees of heat from Thursday’s game:

1. Quick Finish: The Celtics’ 70–45 lead at half time was the biggest on the road in their playoff history.

Tatum scored 20 runs in the first half, with Brown adding 15 runs for Boston in the first two periods.

The Celtics had the heat to such an extent that Erik Spoelstra’s team closed the first half with nine assists and eight turnovers.

And it all happened after the Heat took an 18-8 lead at the start.

2. The Hard Way: Smart took the defensive on Butler from the start and made things a lot more challenging at the start when Butler scored 41 runs in the first match of the series.

After attempting 18 free throws in Game 1, Butler didn’t line up until 7:24 in the second quarter.

Butler scored 16 in the third quarter, but by that time it was largely window dressing, finishing 11 of 18 off the field and 6 of 8 from the line.

3. Tucker Sick: As if things weren’t bad enough, the Heat began to power forward PJ Tucker for the night in the third quarter with a knee injury.

Tucker then had to briefly miss Game 1 with an ankle sprain.

Tucker, 37, scored five points in the opening minute of Thursday night and did not score again.

He played 21:14, with four rebounds, finishing 2 of 6 off the ground.

4. Why not?: It got to the point where Spoelstra turned to Duncan Robson with 2:20 left in the third quarter.

This comes after Robinson was ruled out of Tuesday’s series opener as well as three of the last six matches.

Caleb Martin continued his post-season struggles and Viktor Oladipo was uneven in his minutes. Rotation adjustment may be a consideration.

More important, of course, is if/when Lori returns.

5. Two Back: The Celtics had Smart and Horford back in their mix and back in their starting lineup, both of whom missed Horford in Tuesday night’s series opener, Smart with a leg sprain, NBA heath-and-safety protocol were.

Missing, however, was guard Derrick White for Boston, who left the team for the birth of his child.

White, who started Tuesday in place of Smart, is expected to return for Saturday night’s Game 3 at TD Garden.

“It came sooner than expected,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said of White’s plans, “but we always support our men in that situation.”

The Celtics acquired White in midseason from the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for former Heat guard Josh Richardson.

With Horford, it was a waiting game from the start.

“He didn’t feel sick,” Udoka said of Horford on Thursday. “He’s feeling fine. He’s fine. It’s something that was unexpected.”

Udoka declined to identify why Horford entered the trial.

“They passed all the protocols, passed all the tests,” he said pregame. “I’m not a doctor, but he had to pass certain tests.”

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World Nation News Desk
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