Celtics

Celtics-Heat takeaways: Marcus Smart does it all in Game 2 return

Celtics

The Boston Celtics bounced back from their letdown Game 1 loss with a dominant performance vs. the Miami Heat in Game 2.

After going down 10 points early in the first quarter, the C's outscored the Heat by 35 in the final 19 minutes of the first half. They finished the half up 70-45, marking the franchise's largest halftime lead on the road in postseason history. It's the first time they've scored 70 points in the first half of an Eastern Conference Finals or NBA Finals game since Game 1 of the 1985 Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics blew Game 1 with a disastrous third quarter, but there was no meltdown this time around. They cruised to a 127-102 win to even the series at 1-1.

Jayson Tatum paced Boston with 27 points in the win while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart added 24 each. Jimmy Butler notched 29 points and Gabe Vincent chipped in 14 in a losing effort for Miami.

Game 3 at TD Garden is set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Here are our takeaways from the C's victory.

Marcus Smart, Al Horford make an instant impact

Surprise, surprise. The Celtics looked like a different team with Marcus Smart and Al Horford back in the fold on Thursday night.

 

Smart, who missed Game 1 with a foot sprain, was the star in Boston's Game 2 win. The Defensive Player of the Year made his usual impact on that end of the floor, but he also was the key to the Celtics' offensive success.

The C's tallied 28 assists on 43 buckets. Smart was the driving force behind that elite ball movement as he contributed 12 of those assists. He also tallied 24 points and just barely missed out on a triple-double with nine rebounds.

Smart scored 17 of his points in 17 minutes to help the Celtics maintain their 20-point second-half lead. He became the first Celtic with at least 20 points, 10 assists and three steals in the playoffs since Rajon Rondo in 2012.

Over his last three games, Smart has 29 assists to only three turnovers.

Horford's numbers don't jump off the stat sheet, but the veteran big man still was a difference-maker in his return from health and safety protocols. He had 10 points (4-4 FG) with three assists, a steal and a block. His defense was a major factor in the lopsided victory.

Boston 'Three' Party

A barrage of first-half 3-pointers put Miami in an early hole it simply couldn't dig out of. Boston shot 9-for-11 from beyond the arc in the first quarter. It's the first time they've made nine 3s in a first quarter in franchise history.

The Celtics ended up shooting 20-for-40 from 3. Tatum, Brown and Smart combined to shoot 13-for-25 from distance. Horford and Grant Williams went 2-for-2, and Payton Pritchard was 2-for-6.

Miami tried and failed to match the Celtics' stellar marksmanship, going 10-for-34 (29.4 percent) on 3-pointers. That significant discrepancy ended up being the difference in a Game 2 blowout.

Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard shine off the bench

When Tatum, Smart and Brown weren't stuffing the stat sheet it was Williams and Pritchard doing the damage. The duo made a massive impact, especially during the Celtics' first-half run.

Williams scored eight of his 19 points in his first six minutes of action. He was 5-of-7 from the field and 7-of-8 from the free-throw line. He also brought down four boards and was a +37.

Pritchard chipped in 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with two assists and a steal in 23 minutes. The second-year guard was a game-high +39, one of the highest plus-minuses off the bench in playoff history, per StatMuse.