The Celtics Lit Up The Heat From Three To Take Game 1

The Miami Heat faced an extremely tall order in their first round series with the Boston Celtics. Not only did they have to find a way to beat the team that ran away with the NBA’s best record four times, they would need to do so without Jimmy Butler.

Sunday afternoon’s Game 1 in Boston was an inauspicious start to that effort from Miami, and an impressive statement from the Celtics to open up their pursuit of an ever-elusive championship. The Heat battled early, but the Celtics offense just kept raining threes on them in the middle quarters, opening up a 32-point lead going into the fourth quarter — and going on to win 114-94.

Kristaps Porzingis, Derrick White, and Sam Hauser all knocked down four threes on the afternoon, with the Celtics as a whole shooting 44.9 percent from beyond the arc (22-of-49).

On the other side, the Heat simply couldn’t find the firepower to keep up, as they went just 12-of-37 from deep. Aside from solid performances from Bam Adebayo (24 points on 10-of-18 shooting) and Jaime Jaquez (16 points on 8-of-16 shooting), Miami struggled to find much in the way of positives for the first three quarters of action.

With the game seemingly in hand, the two teams went to bench lineups in the fourth quarter and Miami began to claw their way back into the game. Delon Wright and the Heat caught fire, with the reserve guard hitting five threes as Miami trimmed the deficit back down to 14, forcing Boston’s starters back into the game for the closing stretch.

Ultimately, the Celtics would snuff out any hopes of a wild comeback, polishing off a 20-point win in a balanced effort. Six players reached double figures, with Jayson Tatum posting a triple-double with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists (even as the coldest shooter on the team going just 1-of-8 from deep). White finished with 20 points, Porzingis scored 18, Jaylen Brown added 17, and Hauser and Al Horford chipped in 22 combined off of the bench to round things out.

It was an unsurprising performance, but an important one nonetheless for the Celtics. Dispatching this Heat team quickly in the first round is vital for them proving to themselves and the rest of the league that this year’s team really is different. Miami is obviously compromised without Jimmy Butler, desperately missing his creative abilities, and Boston needs to take care of business quickly.

We’ll see if they can continue to make it look easy when they don’t shoot quite as well from deep, but the best way to avoid the late game offensive shakiness of the past is to not have the game in doubt in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter. Miami will hope they found something in that fourth quarter that can carry over to Game 2, but they have to dig deep to find much in the way of a silver lining from a 20-point loss.