The Boston Celtics may be in trouble.
After faltering in the second half in Game 1 on Wednesday night, the Celtics did it again on Friday to end a disappointing start to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Miami Heat rallied from a double-digit hole in the fourth quarter to beat the Celtics 111-105 at TD Garden, giving them a 2-0 series lead heading into South Florida this weekend.
The Heat are 6-0 at home so far this postseason and are now just two wins away from reaching the NBA Finals since 2020. NBA teams are just 5-23 when losing their first seven series. Both games of that series are at home.
“It comes down to the details and the edges … it’s a series of discipline and mentality,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said. “There were times throughout the game where we weren’t the most disciplined team.”
Jimmy Butler, Heat surge late to steal another win in Boston
Boston was in control for most of Friday night’s game and appeared to be in position to close it out.
After falling into a small hole in the opening minutes, the Celtics mounted a huge 21-2 run that carried into the second quarter and gave them a double-digit lead early on. However, Miami rallied with a 19-2 run of its own to take a 4-point lead at halftime. Caleb Martin scored 14 of his 25 points off the bench in the first half and shot 6-of-9 from the field in the first 24 minutes.
Jayson Tatum took over in the third quarter, despite taking a minute to come out of halftime. He dropped 15 points in the period and pushed the Celtics to an 8-point lead at halftime. They also shut down the Heat, holding them to 1-of-7 from behind the arc and outscoring them by 12.
The Celtics led by double digits almost immediately in the fourth, clearly looking to put the second-half slump they suffered in Game 1 behind them. Jimmy Butler quickly got the Heat back within 4 points, however, and things were very complicated between him and Grant Williams.
That turnover helped the Heat cut the game to 2 points after a Duncan Robinson layup, and then Butler hit back-to-back buckets — including one over Williams — to suddenly put the Heat on top.
A Max Struss free throw, followed by a huge put-back dunk by Bam Adebayo, followed by an 18-4 run that turned the game around and gave the Heat a 5-point lead with less than a minute to play. .
Tatum hit five free throws over the next 30 seconds to pull the game back to within 2 points, but Gabe Vincent and Struss combined to hit four free throws to complete the 6-point victory and officially take a 2-0 series lead. The Heat closed the game on a 24-9 run after Williams hit Butler in the face.
“Some healthy competition, and I love it,” Butler said of his exchange with Williams on TNT. “I’m always here to compete. I like to talk sometimes and I’m fine as long as I win.”
Williams didn’t take it personally.
“I think he said something and I responded,” he said. “For me, I’m a competitor. I’m going to battle, and he got the best of me tonight. At the end of the day, it’s about respect … he’s got to make every tough shot the rest of the series. I’m not going to look at it any other way because I respect him as a mother player.
Butler led the Heat with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. Adebayo nearly had a triple-double with 22 points, 17 rebounds and 9 assists. Martin’s 25 points also marked his playoff career high.
Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points, 13 rebounds and 8 assists. Jaylen Brown added 16 points and Robert Williams finished with 13 points and 3 rebounds.
Game 3 of the series is scheduled for Sunday in Miami.