For the past few games, Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens hinted about his team showing signs of slippage in his team’s play and overall execution.
“We need to get back, better attention to detail, from the last couple of games we had,” Stevens told reporters prior to the game. “Our techniques haven’t been great the last couple games.”
It finally caught up to them, as the Celtics could not muster up the usual defensive stops and clutch shot-making that catapulted them to one of the greatest runs in franchise history that came to an end Wednesday night as the Heat ended Boston’s 16-game winning streak by handing the Celtics a 104-98 loss.
The Miami backcourt of Goran Dragic and Dion Waiters scored 27 and 26 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving’s 23 points and Jayson Tatum who had 18 points and seven rebounds.
The Celtics (16-3) suffered their first loss since the second game of the season against Milwaukee (108-100), and their first road defeat since a 102-99 season-opening loss at Cleveland.
Trailing by 16 points at the start of the fourth quarter, Boston made it a single-digit game (91-84) following a 3-pointer by Tatum.
But when it mattered most, Boston made way too many mistakes and didn’t capitalize on the opportunities to put serious pressure on the Heat.
- Trailing 91-89, Marcus Smart split a pair of free throws.
- Trailing 94-90, Al Horford – an 83.8 percent free throw shooter coming into tonight’s game – missed a pair of free throws.
- Down 97-92, Jaylen Brown throws a full-court errant pass that sails out of bounds.
- Celtics down 99-94 with less than a minute to play force a missed shot, but fail to get the rebound as it sails out of bounds off Terry Rozier.
It was that kind of game for the Celtics, whose 16-game winning streak is a thing of the past that was the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history.
Boston once again found itself playing from behind in the first half, with the Heat pulling ahead by as many as 18 points. However, an 11-6 run to end the second quarter by Boston trimmed Miami’s lead at the half down to 54-41 at the half.
The third quarter has usually been the start of Boston’s comeback.
But to the Heat’s credit, Miami was able to maintain their double-digit lead until a 3-pointer by Al Horford made it a 58-50 game with just over eight minutes to play.
But the Heat responded with four straight points which put Miami up 62-50, leading to a Brad Stevens time-out with 7:28 to play in the third.
The Celtics continued to try and battle back, but the Heat refused to budge on its double-digit lead which stood at 16 points (79-63) going into the fourth quarter.