In this rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals from last season, the Miami Heat got the early edge with their 123-116 win in Game 1 of the series on the road against the Boston Celtics.
The Celtics went into the locker room with the lead at halftime, but head coach Erik Spoelstra clearly made adjustments as they came out in the third quarter firing, erasing the deficit and eventually leading Boston’s head coach, Joe Mazzulla, to launch his clipboard in frustration during a timeout.
The Heat outscored the Celtics 46-25 in the quarter, which allowed them to turn the tides on the road and eventually hold off the Celtics for the victory.
Miami has been hot since they made it as the final seed in the East, upsetting the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks before taking down the New York Knicks in six games. They’ve now won Game 1 of each of their playoff series on the road this postseason.
With their 103-91 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Heat knew that the Celtics weren’t going to lay down and take the loss. But Miami was able to stymie Jayson Tatum, Boston’s top scorer, holding him to just five shot attempts in the half, which is arguably Spoelstra’s best adjustment at the half.
After Caleb Martin hit a corner three-pointer to make it a 117-110 late in the fourth, Tatum had back-to-back travels on the other end, which effectively ended the Celtics’ chances to take Game 1 back on their home court.
Jimmy Butler’s friendly roll on a three-pointer and some clutch free throws in the final seconds has Miami in the driver’s seat in this series.
Butler, of course, was the rock of the Heat with 34 points on 12-of-25 shooting and 10-of-11 from the charity stripe from the free throw line. He totaled five rebounds, seven assists and a game-high six steals on the night as well.
The Heat also saw fantastic three-point shooting once again, going 16-for-31 as a team from beyond the arc (51.6%). Gabe Vincent and Max Strus each made three, while Butler and Kevin Love knocked down two. Martin came off the bench with three as well as Kyle Lowry.
Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s big man, had 20 points with eight rebounds and five assists as well.
On the other hand, the Celtics struggled from three-point land, going 34.5% on the perimeter.
Tatum ended up with 30 points, including a perfect 11-for-11 from the free throw line and 9-for-17 shooting. Jaylen Brown also had 22 points on 10-of-21 from the field, though he went 1-of-6 from three-point territory.
Malcolm Brogdon had 19 points off the bench for the Celtics as well.
Game 2 of the series will tip off on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. ET from Boston before the series heads down to Miami.