The Boston Celtics rolled into AmericanAirlines Arena on a four-game win streak, and early on it looked like they may have been headed toward a fifth straight victory.
Boston saw its win streak snapped with a 115-99 loss to the Miami Heat. They trailed by as many as 26 at one point, and though they got the deficit back down to eight, they never regained the lead once they fell behind in the first quarter.
The Celtics scored via jump shots on six of their first seven trips down the floor to begin the game, with half of the made field goals coming from 3-point territory. Granted, the Heat often were returning the favor when they had the ball, but nonetheless the Celtics led 15-13 3:43 into the game.
For good reason, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens lamented the hot shooting to begin the game.
“(What doomed us was) probably making all those shots at the start that were great shots, but we weren’t generating much into the paint, and we kept shooting tough, long, contested shots without much real attack until the middle of the third quarter,” Stevens told reporters after the game, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “And I think that showed in the fact that we had seven assists at halftime. They did a good job of imposing their will on us, which they’ve done a couple of times now in a row, and so hats off to them. But we may have fallen into that trap of making those early ones.”
Indeed, part of what has plagued the Celtics all season, particularly when they’re behind, is their unwillingness to go to the rim to get points. And when the shots aren’t falling, the Celtics just dig themselves a bigger hole.
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Celtics-Heat game:
— Down by 26 during the third period, the Celtics brought in Robert Williams, and so began a 16-0 run that cut the lead to 10 and gave Boston some life.
Although plus/minus isn’t a stat to live and die by, while most Celtics players were a minus against the Heat, Williams in his 14 minutes of work was a plus-15.
And for Stevens, Williams was one of the reasons the Celtics didn’t get totally shellacked.
“Robert gave us a huge lift,” Stevens said. “He was excellent, he does a lot of things that he’s still learning — there were a couple of screens and couple of times on handoffs where he was a little bit behind the action or a little bit behind what the guard was trying to do on offense. But when he puts pressure at the rim with his rolls and he defends the way he does, he gave us a good lift. He gave us a chance along with that group.”
The rookie finished his night with two points, four rebounds, an assist, steal and block.
— Kelly Olynyk has been on the winning side more often than not since leaving the Celtics for the Heat prior to the 2017-18 season. He’s 3-1 against his former team.
Olynyk had two rebounds in five minutes of work Thursday.
— The Celtics comfortably sit in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, 4 1/2 games clear of the Heat for sixth place. But with the loss, they now trail the Philadelphia 76ers by 1 1/2 games for fourth.