The Boston Celtics (41-12) swept the season series against the Miami Heat (28-25) with a 110-106 victory. A game that the Celtics controlled for 80% of the game, quickly turned into what seemed like a playoff game.
Jayson Tatum (26 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (25 points) led the way for Boston.
In the first quarter, once Tatum exited the game, it was The Porzingis Show. Similar to what the Celtics did against the Wizards, Boston exploited the size mismatch whenever a Heat player switched onto Porzingis. Porzingis played the entire first quarter, scoring 11 points and grabbing six rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting. Whether it was from the outside or being the weak side cutter, Porzingis was in his bag early.
The Celtics are getting so good at initiating a 2nd side action before as the initial screener rolls. Creates the diagonal passing angle, opens up a ton of different options in terms of scoring – such as this SWEET ASS LOB pic.twitter.com/YreP4L2KyK
— Adam Taylor (@AdamTaylorNBA) February 11, 2024
The Celtics played with great ball movement which created open shots for Boston. In the second quarter, Jrue Holiday helped fuel an 8-0 run with two threes.
The Celtics impacted the game on both sides of the floor, continuously getting back after a turnover. Al Horford and Derrick White both registering a block in transition.
Miami didn’t go out without a fight, as Terry Rozier and Bam Adebayo kept their ship afloat as they both scored 11 points each in the first half. The Heat trailed 59-50 at halftime.
To start the third quarter, Porzingis and Tatum continued to dominate mismatches. Tatum, who scored 14 before halftime, scored four straight points before feeding the big man for the emphatic slam. The 8-0 run gave Boston a 15-point (67-52) advantage, leading to a Heat timeout.
Despite having the momentum, Miami answered with a 13-2 run with 7:21 left in the third, to get the game back to a four-point game, highlighted by Tyler Herro’s back-to-back threes.
Unfortunately for both teams, both suffered injuries in the third quarter. Porzingis (low back contusion) went to the locker room, but the Celtics staff decided he was good to return. For the Heat, Rozier had to leave the game after taking a hard fall and grabbing his right leg. Rozier was unable to shoot the free throws, so his night ended early with just under five minutes left of the third quarter. Rozier’s departure was Miami’s second of the game as Josh Richardson left in the first half with a right shoulder injury.
With the Heat surging and the crowd getting into it, Holiday stepped up with two big threes late in the quarter to keep Boston ahead. Boston took an 86-79 lead into the fourth quarter.
Things got chippy in the fourth quarter when Jaylen Brown received a technical foul for chucking Duncan Robinson to the floor after Robinson and Brown’s arms were tangled. The technical foul was upgraded to a Flagrant 1 after review.
After the free throws, Miami trailed 96-89 with 7:50 left.
The game immediately started to have a playoff feel, something Boston didn’t need as they were controlling most of the game. From rushed shots and bad turnovers, the C’s lead was cut to five points with 5:06 remaining.
Tyler Herro with two deep threes got the game to two 106-104 with 1:48 remaining.
Porzingis, who was quiet since he returned in the fourth quarter, came up with a big defensive rebound leading to a foul. The big man made them both to get the lead back to a two-possession game.
When the game mattered most, the Celtics turned up its defense and forced two big misses. Then with the time running down after Brown missed a corner three, Porzingis tipped the offensive rebound back out allowing Jaylen Brown to save it before Joe Mazzulla called a timeout with 15.7 seconds remaining.
Out of the timeout, Tatum got the ball and knocked down both free throws to give Boston a 110-104 lead with 14 seconds left. After a Herro layup, the Celtics ran out the clock giving them win number 41 on the year.
The Celtics will travel to Brooklyn on Tuesday for a 7:30 p.m. game against the Nets.