NBA Playoffs Update: No Third Quarter Magic for Miami, Marcus Smart Sets the Tone in Celtics Blowout Victory

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NBA Playoffs Update: No Third Quarter Magic for Miami, Marcus Smart Sets the Tone in Celtics Blowout Victory

Chicago Bulls

There would be no third-quarter magic for the Heat on Thursday night. In fact, there was very little magic for them at all, as Boston evened the series up at one-a-piece with a convincing victory over Miami in Game 2 with Marcus Smart and Al Horford back in the lineup.

Celtics 127, Heat 102

Series: TIED 1-1

After Tuesday night’s Game 1 loss, Jayson Tatum told reporters to “expect us to play better, expect myself to play a lot better.” Tatum made good on his promise, and so did the rest of the Celtics. Miami was able to bully the Celtics in the series opener with Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart and veteran big Al Horford sidelined. Jimmy Butler plowed his way through the paint and got to the free throw line 18 times in Game 1. Butler was at the charity stripe just eight times last night. Despite Miami jumping out to an early 10-point lead, there would be no bullying of the Celtics on Thursday night.

Boston, trailing 18-8, ended the first quarter on a 27-6 run thanks to some big stops by Al Horford. Miami challenged Horford multiple times, coming up short nearly every time. At one point, Jimmy Butler (twice), Victor Oladipo, Tyler Herro (twice), and Gabe Vincent were all turned away by Horford on six consecutive isolation possessions. Whether it be a well-contested shot or forcing the Miami player out of bounds or into a turnover, Horford made a statement during that stretch that the paint was no longer Miami’s for the taking as it was two nights earlier.

On the other end, Boston’s offense took advantage of the flurry of stops on defense and scored 27 of their 35 first quarter points on the run and took an 11-point lead into the second quarter in Miami thanks to nine triples for the C’s.

In the second quarter, Boston pulled away for good when they outscored the Heat by 14 to take a 70-45 point lead into the half. Jayson Tatum led the way for Boston with 27 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists while shooting 61.5 percent (8-of-13) from the floor and 66.7 percent from deep (4-of-6). Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart both added 24 points and shot a combined 43 percent from the floor and 47 percent from three-point range. Smart also logged 12 assists, 9 rebounds, and 3 steals for the Celtics. After the game, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka praised Smart for being the tone-setter for Boston.

“As always, he sets the tone,” Udoka said. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at (Jimmy) Butler, (Bam) Adebayo, some of those guys, and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line.”

Jimmy Butler scored 29 points in the losing effort for Miami but wasn’t nearly effective as he was in Game 1, and he was the only Miami player to crack 20 or more points in the contest. In typical Jimmy Butler fashion, he wore Thursday night’s loss in the postgame press conference, taking the blame for not getting others involved.

“I think I have to do a better job of getting everybody else involved if I’m being brutally honest,” Butler said. “I have to find that fine medium, that fine line in between when to be aggressive and when to make sure that I can get guys open.

“That’s on me,” Butler said. “I don’t think that’s on Spo (coach Erik Spoelstra). I don’t think that’s on Bam (Adebayo). I think it’s my job, because I got the ball a lot of the times, to make sure that everybody is comfortable and getting the shots that they need to have.”

Butler and the Heat will have to recalibrate before the series shifts to Boston this weekend and try to figure out how they’ll attack the Celtics, who are now at nearly full strength with Smart and Horford back in the lineup. They might have to do so without P.J. Tucker, who left Thursday night’s loss with a left knee contusion and did not return.

Here are the highlights from last night’s Boston victory in South Beach courtesy of NBA.com’s YouTube channel:



Author: Patrick K. Flowers

Patrick is a Staff Writer at Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @PatrickKFlowers.