Celtics vs Heat, takeaway: Jayson Tatum, Boston tie Eastern Conference finals in Game 2

The Boston Celtics bounced back in big fashion Thursday night with a 127-102 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics have now stolen home-court advantage and tied the series 1-1. Game 3 will return to Boston on Saturday night.

It all started with the Heat as they jumped to a double-digit lead. It was the high point of the night for them, however, as the Celtics turned the game upside down, continuing to lead 17-0 and taking a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter one. They pulled the score in the second quarter, with a 25-point lead going into halftime, and the game was never questioned. Jayson Tatum led with 27 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists, while Jaylen Brown had 24 points and 8 rebounds.

Meanwhile, Marcus Smart returned from a foot injury that kept him out of Game 1 and finished with 24 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists and three steals. The Celtics also shot well, going 20 of 40 from 3-point range.

Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 29 points and six rebounds, but he didn’t get much help. Gabe Vincent, who finished with 14 points, was the only starter in double figures. The Heat also lost PJ Tucker to a knee contusion, and his forward status is unclear.

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Smart emerges from foot injury

The Celtics, who were without Marcus Smart (strained foot) and Al Horford (health and safety protocols) in Game 1, were badly missed on both ends of the floor. In particular, the Celtics could have used their leadership and composure Tuesday night when the Heat made a big splash in the third quarter.

However, both players returned in Game 2 and were instrumental in the Celtics’ victory. Horford made 4 of 4 shots and had 10 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. However, cleverness is the real difference maker. In one of his best performances this postseason, he had 21 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists and three steals.

His defense is as good as ever, and his return makes things more difficult for the Heat.

“As always, he set the tone,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Being able to switch and switch to a bigger body. Just another good defender to throw at (Jimmy) Butler and (Bam) Adebayo and some of them. , without having to worry about them trying to pick certain games. He brings physicality every night. Kind of puts other people in line.”

On the other hand, his style of play is spot on as he gets it right time and time again and takes a lot of pressure off Jayson Tatum. Hitting a team-high five 3-pointers certainly didn’t hurt, and as an exclamation point, he knocked Max Struth down with a little dribble.

Celtics’ first-quarter performance is crucial

In Game 1 on Tuesday night, the Celtics took the lead after halftime and appeared to have a chance of winning without some key players. Instead, the Heat took control of the game 22-2 with more than five minutes to go and won by double digits.

The opposite happened Thursday night — albeit earlier in the game. Miami shot very well in the first few minutes and dominated the game with a double-digit lead. That advantage didn’t last long, and the Celtics responded almost immediately, grabbing control with a 17-0 run, building an 11-point lead by the end of the first quarter and never trailing again.

That 17-0 game was the longest the Celtics have played in the entire playoffs

C lights up again from the 3-pointer

The Celtics had some great 3-point performances in the playoffs. Most notably, they knocked down 22 3-pointers in a Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round. They were back on Thursday night, beating the Heat with another impressive shooting performance in Game 2.

The smarter of all players leads with five points, while Tatum and Brown each have four knockouts. All told, the Celtics shot 20-for-40 in the playoffs as their most efficient 3-pointer. This is also their third playoff game with at least 20 three-pointers, tied for the most in a single playoff game in a single season.

While they shot well all night, the Celtics were especially hot at the start of the game. They went 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first quarter and hit five straight in their game-changing 17-0 run. That shooting performance demoralized opponents, and the Heat never recovered.

Heat face more potential injury problems

The Celtics’ injury problems in Game 1 drew a lot of attention, with neither Smart nor Horford playing. However, the Heat have also had some trouble with the health department. Veteran point guard Kyle Lowry is battling a hamstring problem and has not played since Game 4 of the second round against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Now, the Heat may have to keep an eye on PJ Tucker. He left Game 2 with a knee contusion and did not play in the second half.Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said Tucker is confident he will be ready for Game 3, but he will undergo further evaluations, including an MRI, on Friday According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports.

At 37, Tucker is one of the toughest players in the league, so you might bet on him playing. Still, it’s a concern for the Heat because he’s one of their most important defenders.

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