The Boston Celtics shook off a sluggish start to defeat the Miami Heat 112-108 at TD Garden on Sunday night.
With the win, the Celtics moved into a tie with the Cleveland Cavaliers for first place in the Eastern Conference.
Isaiah Thomas led the C’s with 30 points, 20 of which came in the second half. Boston also got good performances from Jae Crowder (25 points), Amir Johnson (14 points) and Marcus Smart (seven points, nine assists).
Tyler Johnson led the Heat with 24 points off the bench, but they lacked offensive punch without Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow, both of whom missed the game due to injury.
The Celtics improve to 48-26 with the win, while the Heat fall to 35-38.
Here’s how it all went down.
Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford
The Celtics got a win before the game against the Heat even started as they clinched home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs thanks to losses by the Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks.
Both teams looked a little off to start the game. The Celtics allowed the Heat to score 16 points in the paint during the first period, which led to a five-point Miami lead after one. Hassan Whiteside led Miami with seven points and Crowder paced the C’s with seven of his own. The Heat’s lead would have been larger if not a for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Smart to end the quarter.
DIGGING OUT OF A HOLE
The C’s fell behind by 15 points midway through the second quarter. But coach Brad Stevens went to a smaller lineup and the Celtics immediately answered with a 12-2 run to trim the lead to five.
But the Heat steadied the ship and took a five-point lead into the locker room thanks to 26 bench points, including 12 from Johnson. Crowder led the C’s with 12 points in the half and Thomas chipped in with 10.
CELTICS HEAT UP
The C’s came out of the locker room looking reenergized. They outscored the Heat by 15 in the quarter thanks to 12 points from Thomas and eight apiece from Crowder and Johnson.
NIP AND TUCK
Despite a 10-point deficit, the Heat just kept coming as they trimmed the lead to one with a littler more than a minute remaining.
But the Celtics made the plays down the stretch to secure the victory. After Crowder missed a 3-pointer, Smart snared the offensive rebound. He then dished to Thomas who finished at the rim to push the lead back to three.
The Heat couldn’t come all the way back as the C’s salted the game away at the free-throw line in the final minute.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Smart at the buzzer!
The Celtics will take the floor again Wednesday when they welcome the Milwaukee Bucks to TD Garden. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images