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Playoffs 2020

NBA Playoffs 2020: What to watch as Boston Celtics and Miami Heat square off in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals sure lived up to the hype.

Led by Goran Dragic's 29 points, as well as some big-time plays from Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo in overtime, the Miami Heat outlasted the Boston Celtics to take a 1-0 series lead.

What will Game 2 have in store for us?

Here are three things to watch as the Celtics look to tie up the series.

Getting into the zone

The Heat didn't play any zone against the Indiana Pacers in the first round or the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round, but they sure did break it out in Game 1 against the Celtics.

It didn't come as much of a surprise. First and foremost, the Heat played more zone defence than any other team in the league this season. Secondly, the Celtics had some trouble scoring against Toronto's zone in the previous round, putting up 93 points against it over 103 possessions, per John Schuhmann of NBA.com.

You best believe Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra took note of that.

The Celtics actually had some success against the Heat's zone defence in Game 1 - they scored 16 points on 14 zone possessions, per Schuhmann - but the Heat had some wins themselves, taking the Celtics out of their rhythm by cutting off the dribble penetration they rely so heavily on.

It'll be fascinating to see just how much zone the Heat play in Game 2 and whether or not the Celtics can score well enough against it to keep Miami honest.

Jimmy Butler in the clutch

Some numbers for you.

In the regular season, Butler scored a total of 76 points in the clutch - the "clutch" being the last five minutes of a five-point game - doing so on .279/.150/.736 shooting splits, making him one of the least efficient high volume scorers in the league with the game on the line.

In these playoffs, Butler has scored 28 clutch points, putting him behind only Jamal Murray (36) and Donovan Mitchell (31) for most in the league. His shooting splits? A much healthier .500/.400/.932.

Inconsistent as he was in the clutch in the regular season, Butler has been a killer in these playoffs. We saw it against the Bucks in the second round and we saw it in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, with Butler scoring two big baskets when the Heat needed him the most.

First, there was this 3-pointer in the closing seconds of regulation that gave the Heat the lead after they trailed by as much as 14 points in the fourth quarter:

Then, there was this tough layup over Jayson Tatum in overtime that was overshadowed by Bam Abebayo's game-saving block:

Based on how clutch he has been in these playoffs, it's safe to assume that the ball will be in Butler's hands again if Game 2 goes down to the wire.

Marcus Smart's hot shooting

Some more numbers for you.

In Boston's first-round sweep over the Philadelphia 76ers, Smart shot 13.3 percent from 3-point range. That's not a typo. He made only two of his 15 3-point attempts.

In the second round, Smart found the touch, draining 39.3 percent of his 3-point attempts, which was enough for him to knock down 24 3-pointers over seven games. That's the third-most 3s someone on the Celtics has ever made in a series, trailing only Ray Allen (27) and Isaiah Thomas (25). (Anytime you're in the same sentence as Ray Allen, especially when it comes to shooting, you're doing something right).

Smart's hot shooting continued in Game 1 against the Heat, with him going 6-for-13 from 3-point range.

Smart has improved considerably as a shooter over the last couple of seasons, but it's still jarring to see a career 31.8 percent 3-point shooter take shots like this without hesitation:

With how little depth the Celtics have - especially with Gordon Hayward still recovering from an ankle injury he suffered in the first round - getting that sort of production of Smart on offence is a huge win. It wasn't enough for them to take Game 1, of course, but it did give them the scoring punch they needed to go the distance despite another off game from Kemba Walker.

If Smart can continue to shoot as well as he has lately and Walker bounces back ... watch out.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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