Celtics hold off Heat in Eastern Conference Finals rematch

Celtics hold off Heat in Eastern Conference Finals rematch

Updated: 3 months, 10 days, 19 hours, 7 minutes, 33 seconds ago

▪ Heat center Bam Adebayo had a hot start and helped Miami to an early 13-8 lead. But midway through the quarter he committed a silly foul when he swiped at Al Horford about 35 feet from the hoop. On that same trip downcourt he was called for an over-the-back foul chasing a rebound about 20 feet from the rim. The Heat’s momentum disappeared after Adebayo went to the bench and the Celtics closed the quarter with a 22-9 run.

Jayson Tatum (29) and Jaylen Brown (28) combined for 57 points as the Celtics improved to 2-0 with a 111-104 road win over the Miami Heat in a rematch of the 2022 Eastern Conference Finals. The Heat had five players score in double figures, led by Tyler Herro’s 25.

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It got even worse for Miami in the third quarter. It erased a 12-point deficit to take a 71-69 lead, but Adebayo collected his fourth foul, on an illegal screen, and went back to the bench. The Celtics had little trouble with backup center Dewayne Dedmon and got several big offensive rebounds as they regained control with a 17-4 surge. Adebayo’s foul trouble was the game’s most significant development.

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▪ In a familiar sight from last season, the Celtics constantly sought mismatches in which Tyler Herro was the primary defender, catching the Heat in screening actions that left them vulnerable. Herro was named Sixth Man of the Year last season but is starting for Miami this year. He showed Miami is looking past his defensive struggles, though, pouring in 15 first-half points for an offense that found few openings.

▪ It was just a matter of substitution patterns and positioning, but it was still interesting that Sam Hauser and Noah Vonleh came off the bench before Malcolm Brogdon. Vonleh, who made the final roster two days before the start of the season, made some good hustle plays at both ends in the first half, including a pair of slams after offensive rebounds. It appears that he’ll be a serviceable option until Robert Williams returns. Brogdon, meanwhile, grabbed three big offensive rebounds that led to Boston baskets during its third-quarter run. He’s been impactful in several ways over these first two games.

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▪ The Celtics continued to push the pace whenever there was a chance, and when they run, they really run. On one second-quarter play, Herro sliced into the lane for a layup. Before fans even had a chance to enjoy it, the Celtics had crossed midcourt to catch caught Miami’s defense in an unsettled situation. Two extra passes to open players outside the arc led to a wide open 3-pointer. The Celtics made 52.5 percent of their shots in the first half and 42.9 percent of their 3-pointers.

▪ Yes, it’s a Friday night in Miami, but this crowd was awful. The arena appeared to be only about two-thirds full, and in the first half the fans felt indifferent. This was an early rematch of the conference finals involving two of the best teams in the East.

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.