After a rough start to the series, the Celtics are showing some signs of life. They take a “home game” away from the Heat and have a stronger team overall with the return of Gordon Hayward.
The Celtics came out hot with an emphasis on driving to the bucket, playing good defense, and riding Jaylen Brown’s aggressive start. He would go on to finish with a team high of 26 points with 7 rebounds and 5 assists.
Kemba Walker is looking like he did in the regular season. Putting up 21 points while going 4 for 8 from deep. The Heat’s leader Jimmy Butler must be tired from those first two games, but he still was able to score 17 points and get 8 boards. Jae Crowder is loving balling out against his old team. He had 10 points and is playing some hard defense for the Heat, but he had a poor shooting night as he went 2 for 10 from 3. He went into this game as one of the Heat’s best shooters this series. The law of averages is real.
Daniel Theis finished with 8 points and 7 boards. He had 2 fouls in the first quarter and ended up getting his 4th early in the third. He’s an important big for the Celtics as they run a heavy guard/forward rotation. That being said, the Heat don’t play too big either, but the Celtics can use him to punish them because of this. Bam Adebayo is doing exactly what he needs to do for the Heat as he has fit snugly into his role. He shot a scorching 10 for 14 with 27 points and 16 rebounds. He is continuing to shine in his third year in the NBA as a bit of an undersized center. Jayson Tatum was flexing his muscles and his dimes as he started the first quarter with 4 assists and finished off with totals of 25 points 14 rebounds and 8 assists. Don’t forget the multiple dunks, especially the one on Crowder which threw him all the way to the baseline during the second.
Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, the sophomore and the rookie are looking like some great players for the Heat providing the all-important spacing in today’s NBA. Herro’s extreme confidence plus the combination of sharpshooting caused some problems in the second quarter. Robinson’s defense was looking sharp as well and he took a rough hit from Brown late in the game. He finished with 13 points a board and 2 assists. The younger Herro had 22 points 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
We heard Marcus Smart ripped his teammates apart after game 2 and he continued his good form with 20 points 4 rebounds and 6 assists. Of course, his defense is the most important thing he brings to this Celtics team. Goran Dragic has all the experience the Heat needs and then some. But today he had a quiet 11 points and 1 rebound with 5 assists. Enes Kanter provided some good work in the post and in 5 minutes had 4 points and 4 rebounds, with 2 being offensive. Brad Wannamaker, the oldest Celtic is providing good minutes off the bench as Brad Stevens likes combo guards like him. Grant Williams has found his shooting stroke in the postseason. He’s looking like a young PJ Tucker for the Celtics. In the minutes he gets, he’s being really efficient. The Heat’s other bench players Kelly Olynyk, and Derrick Jones Jr. were able to put up 3 points each and secured 2 and 3 rebounds respectively. Andre Iguodala and Kendrick Nunn also got a piece of the action.
Overall, the Celtics are beginning to get used to the Heat’s zone. Maybe they just needed a bit of Hayward for a boost or Stevens has cracked Spoelstra’s code. They have a tough battle ahead of them as they go into game 4 but we will see if they can put up a performance like this again. They attacked the paint very well, and made the right decision when it came time to kick it to the corners. Good shooting overall propelled them to take this game. Keeping the Heat under 40% FG percentage is also an impressive feat. They had a lackluster 3rd quarter, with even the commentators calling some of their attempted finishes “shaqtin.” Things were looking scary for them in the 4th quarter too, as the Heat inched closer to making another comeback but the Celtics snuffed it out.
If Marcus Smart has to yell at his teammates after every game, then so be it. I just hope he doesn’t lose his voice too soon.