The Miami Heat refuse to give up. Despite being down by as many as 17 points in Game 2, they still come out victorious courtesy of a huge third quarter. The 17 points is tied for the largest comeback margin in the franchise's playoff history.
As a result, they improve their league-best postseason record to 10-1. Six different players finished in double figures for Miami led by Goran Dragic's 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting.
For the Celtics, three players scored at least 21 points - Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum but despite big plays down the stretch, they couldn't recover from their letdown in the third quarter.
Here are some key observations from this game:
1. Kemba's early aggressive play
The recent struggles of Celtics' All-Star point guard have been well documented.
In the three previous games, Walker was averaging 12.7 points on 28.3% shooting from the field and 13.6 from beyond the arc. This game, however, he came out firing especially in the first half.
14 PTS (6-10 FGM) for Kemba in the first half! 💦@celtics 60@MiamiHEAT 47- NBA (@NBA) September 18, 2020
BOS looking to tie ECF on ESPN pic.twitter.com/6Jhv1IZv3K
Playing 14 minutes in the first half, he finished with 14 points (6-10 FGs), five rebounds, two assists, and was a +10. He finished with a team-high 23 points (9-19 FGs) while also recording seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
2. Duncan Robinson was red-hot early
Boston started the game on fire, shooting 12-of-18 from the field for 28 points in the first quarter, 21 of which came from the trio fo Walker, Tatum, and Marcus Smart on a combined 8-of-10 shooting from the field.
Count the defenders surrounding Jayson Tatum!@celtics up 31-28 after 1Q on ESPN pic.twitter.com/iOYWF5EzkQ- NBA (@NBA) September 17, 2020
On the other hand, shots weren't falling for the Heat, except for Duncan Robinson. The Heat shot 9-of-26 from the field in the first quarter and four of those field goals came from Robinson. All of those came from beyond the arc for all of his 12 first-half points.
His quick spark early allowed Miami to absorb Boston's run.
It's raining ☔ pic.twitter.com/slmVp7qNtr- Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) September 17, 2020
3. Kanter, Wanamaker provide spark in 2nd
With Gordon Hayward out, the Celtics depth has been challenged in the last few games. In this one, they got some much-needed production from their bench duo during the second quarter.
Boston outscored Miami 29-19 in the second quarter, 13 (5-6 FGs) of which came from Enes Kanter and Brad Wanamaker.
this is what @EnesKanter does 😤 pic.twitter.com/k1d2Nont0x- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 17, 2020
👌🏾👌🏾 @phillybul_22 pic.twitter.com/2VxDxAPHPd- Boston Celtics (@celtics) September 17, 2020
For the game, the duo finished with a combined 16 points (6-7 FGs), eight rebounds, and two assists.
4. Heat turn it around in the 3rd
Multiple Miami players starred in the third quarter as they turned this game on its head by outscoring Boston 37-17 in the period. Their All-Star big man Bam Adebayo led the way, while their starting guards in Goran Dragic and Duncan Robinson also chipped in, by combining for 13 in the period.
Bam through 3 on ESPN:- NBA (@NBA) September 18, 2020
19 PTS | 7 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL pic.twitter.com/GKAmNHa8Gc
The Heat turned a 13-point halftime deficit into a seven-point third quarter lead, overwhelming the Celtics on both sides of the floor.
Their 37 points came on 14-of-24 (58.3%) shooting from the field and 5-of-12 from beyond the arc, while turning the ball over just twice. On defense, they held the Celtics to just 17 points on 4-of-12 (33.3%) shooting from the field and seven turnovers.
This game is the first time in playoff franchise history that the Heat have outscored an opponent by 20 in the third quarter.
5. Miami's zone defense
After the Celtics' strong first half on the offensive end, the Heat turned to their trusted zone defense, cutting the offense off at every turn, with active hands in the passing lanes.
The Celtics had 5 made shots and 5 turnovers on 25 plays against the Heat's zone defense in the 2nd half.- Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) September 18, 2020
Miami showed off this defense frequently during the regular season and pulled it off at a crucial point in their Eastern Conference Finals series.
6. Vets ice the game
It was a back-and-forth contest for much of the fourth quarter after the Heat gave away an early eight-point lead, but not for the first time these playoffs, the Heat win a game in the clutch.
Dragic DANCES and DRAINS the 3.. @MiamiHEAT up 4 with just 1:18 to play on ESPN! pic.twitter.com/Oa5NdNkVRi- NBA (@NBA) September 18, 2020
Veterans Goran Dragic and Jimmy Butler scored or assisted on 19 of the team's 22 points.
7. Up next
At a stage like the Conference Finals, a 2-0 series lead is a commanding advantage. It's been overcome just six times in NBA history. Can the Celtics make it seven?
That comeback will start with a win in Game 3, which is scheduled for Sunday, Sept., 20th at 6:00 a.m. IST.
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