close
close
Skip to main content
Lasque Tiarc

Jayson Tatum’s triple-double advances Celtics to Game 1 blowout of Heat – Hartford Courant

Vaseline 2 months ago

Kristaps Porzingis predicted the Celtics’ first-round matchup against the Miami Heat would be a “war.”

Bam Adebayo used the word “dogfight” to describe the teams’ fourth playoff meeting in five years.

Game 1, however, turned out to be a walkover.

The Celtics began their latest quest for the Banner 18 by defeating their perennial postseason foe, defeating the shorthanded Heat 114-94 on Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum recorded his first career playoff triple-double (23 points, 10 assists, 10 rebounds) to lead Boston, where six players reached double figures. Derrick White scored 20 points, while Porzingis surrendered 18 in his Celtics postseason debut and Jaylen Brown added 17 points and eight boards.

As a team, the Celtics attempted 49 three-pointers and made 22 (44.9%), tying a franchise playoff record. The Heat struggled from long range most of the night, with six of their 12 made threes coming in the fourth quarter.

Tatum went just 1-for-8 from three, but Porzingis called his game-changing performance “perfect.”

“That was a great game by him,” Porzingis said. “Getting those assists, especially in the beginning. He didn’t force anything too much and involved everyone. I think it’s a huge honor for him, this match, how we all played as a team, because he made everyone feel good early on.

Miami, meanwhile, played without six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, who is expected to miss several weeks after suffering an MCL injury during the Play-In tournament.

The Heat defeated the Butler-less Chicago Bulls on Friday to take the No. 8 seed, but they were quickly outclassed by the top-seeded C’s. Game 2 is scheduled for Wednesday night at 7 at TD Garden.

On Sunday, the Celtics raced out to a 9-0 lead, prompting Heat coach Erik Spoelstra to call his first timeout less than two minutes after tip-off. Brown had started with a 3-pointer on the first possession and followed it up with a thunderous dunk on the next possession. Boston also got buckets from Porzingis, Tatum and Jrue Holiday before Adebayo scored Miami’s first points to end a 14-0 Boston opening run.

The Celtics never trailed, but led by just five at the end of the first quarter, and three at the start of the second quarter, before a burst of bench scoring pushed the lead back to double digits.

Sam Hauser hit 3-pointers on three straight possessions, then a fourth at 8:37 of the quarter to help Boston reassert control. The third-year sharpshooter emerged as a key contributor during the regular season, and his 12 points Sunday nearly matched his total from the Celtics’ entire 2023 playoff run (13), which infamously ended in an embarrassing loss to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. .

“Sam was a big reason (for the win),” Tatum said. “… They cut it down to three or four, and Sam hit three or four threes. You need those kinds of things to be successful in the play-offs.”

The Celtics took a 15-point lead into halftime and put the game away with a dominant third quarter, burying the Heat with a brutal attack of threes. All eight of Boston’s rotation players made at least one triple in the win, and White, Brown and Al Horford all hit from deep as part of a 25-5 run to end the third.

The Celtics led by 32 entering the fourth quarter, although a late Heat push kept head coach Joe Mazzulla from emptying his bench.

Tempers flared in the final minute when Heat forward Caleb Martin upended Tatum while contesting a rebound. The dangerous play drew a foul and the ire of Tatum’s Celtics teammates, as Brown and Porzingis both had words for Martin after the whistle. Martin and Brown were both assessed technically. Tatum stayed in the game and made both free throws.

“He’s doing well,” said Mazzulla, who added that he “enjoyed” the team’s response to Martin’s hard foul.

“I didn’t get hurt,” Tatum added.

This was the first meaningful game in weeks for Boston, which posted the NBA’s best record on April 4 and rested some or all of its starters in five of the final six games of the regular season. Mazzulla guided the team through a grueling practice of more than two hours on Tuesday, and aside from Tatum’s flawless shot from beyond the arc, his players showed little rust against Miami.

Holiday was the only Celtics starter not to score in double figures (six points). But he contributed seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks, and was crucial in limiting leading scorer Tyler Herro to 11 points, Herro’s fewest since Jan. 5.

Adebayo paced Miami with 24 points and six rebounds in a regular head-to-head battle with Porzingis.

“We obviously want to stop him as much as possible. But because he understands that they will play through him all the time, he will be involved in all situations,” Porzingis said. ‘I don’t care about him. I care about our team and what we are trying to achieve. This isn’t one-on-one, me versus Bam.

“This is Celtics against the Heat, so we’ll make sure that’s our focus.”