Celtics

Heat-Celtics Takeaways: Jaylen Brown's breakout performance (31 points) carry Celtics

Heat-Celtics Takeaways: Jaylen Brown's breakout performance (31 points) carry Celtics

BOSTON -- The Miami Heat have ended more than their share of home winning streaks this season, proving themselves to be one of the NBA’s best road teams. 

Well, that killer road success did nothing for them against the Celtics on Wednesday night as the Celtics had them looking more like roadkill as they sped away in the second half for a 112-93 win. 

Jaylen Brown delivered yet another gem of a performance, tallying a season-high 31 points. Leading scorer Kemba Walker (22 points, seven assists) and Jayson Tatum (19 points, five rebounds) also had strong games for Boston (15-5). 

The Heat, having pulled out an overtime win at Toronto less than 24 hours earlier, had a strong start to the game but soon faded and, while chipping away at Boston’s lead, never really threatened Boston’s control of the action in the second half. 

Miami’s best player, Jimmy Butler, did a little bit of everything for the Heat while scoring a game-high 37 points to go with six rebounds and four assists. 

Still, the story of this game was the Celtics, playing without their defensive ace Marcus Smart, who was out due to an illness in addition to dealing with some still-lingering oblique soreness suffered in a win at New York on Sunday.

We have seen them do well when one of their core guys is out and Wednesday’s game was no exception. 

While some will point towards the Heat being on the second night of a back-to-back, the Heat are one of the more resilient teams in the NBA and came out playing to do more than just compete. 

As the game wore on, Boston’s defense steadily wore them down. And down went the talented Heat, one of the best teams in the NBA on the road who, on this night, weren’t road warriors but were more like roadkill. 

Here are some other takeaways from the win:

JAYLEN BROWN 

It seems at least once or twice a week, Jaylen Brown delivers a performance that stands out for all the right reasons. Boston had a lot of bodies step up on Wednesday and contribute to the win, but Brown’s play was arguably the best.

It’s easy to get caught up in his season-high 31 points, but Brown did more than just get buckets. He moved without the ball, kept the ball moving when he had it in hand and did all he could defensively to at least contest many of those big shots that Butler was draining all night. 

It was a strong all-around game for Brown, the kind that we’re getting accustomed to seeing from him on a night-in, night-out basis. 

FREE THROWS

Don’t let the final numbers fool you. The Celtics absolutely dominated this category, fueled by an extremely lopsided first half in which Boston was 13-for-18 from the line compared to the Heat, who missed their only free-throw attempt in the first half. For the game, Boston was 26-for-32 from the line, Miami 11-for-17.

SECOND-QUARTER DEFENSE

The Celtics played good defense for most of the game, but the turning point came in the second quarter. Boston closed out the second quarter with a 26-7 run fueled in large part by their defense, which limited the Heat to 7-for-21 shooting. 

Boston’s defense has not been nearly as good the past week or so as it was earlier this season. Several factors have contributed to their struggles, but the bottom line is they have to play more consistently. 

What we saw in the second quarter on Wednesday was exactly what the Celtics have to do defensively going forward. 

They were as connected as we’ve seen them defensively this season, which will come in handy in a couple of days when they face a Denver Nuggets squad that has the depth that will challenge Boston at both ends of the floor.

FIRST-HALF KEMBA

We’ve seen Kemba Walker save his best play for the second half most of this season but Wednesday night against the Heat being the exception. Walker scored 17 of his 28 points in the first half, doing so on an efficient 5-for-10 shooting. On top of that, he had four assists in the first half with zero turnovers. 

Walker’s playmaking more so than his playmaking was huge for the Celtics who were playing without Smart, their top playmaker this season. 

The way he adapted his play to still be impactful but certainly help fill the void left by Smart’s absence was huge.

JIMMY BUTLER

The second half brought about an entirely different, far more aggressive Butler. The Heat got down by as many as 16  in the third quarter before Butler put the Heat on his back and rallied them to get within single digits. He would finish with a game-high 37 points, six rebounds and four assists.

This was yet another night in which the Celtics had their struggles limiting a good scorer from having a great night. Still, to their credit, Boston didn’t allow Butler's supporting cast to get into any kind of major rhythm offensively, which softens the blow of again being lit up by an opponent. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Nuggets, which tips off Friday at 7 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call at 8 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

 


 

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat live stream: Watch NBA game online

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat live stream: Watch NBA game online

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat will clash at AmericanAirlines Arena on Tuesday night in a matchup of Eastern Conference powers.

These are two of the five teams jockeying for playoff position from the No. 2 seed down to the No. 6 seed. The five teams in this range of the East standings are separated by only 2.5 games. The Heat are in a second-place tie with the Toronto Raptors at 32-14, while the C's are in fourth place at 30-15.

The Celtics don't have a signature road win this season, and Tuesday's game against the Heat is a great place to earn their first. It won't be easy, though. Miami is one of the league's best home teams with a 21-2 record on its own court. The Heat also have the second-best 3-point shooting percentage in basketball, so the C's will need to defend the perimeter at a high level to leave South Beach with a victory. 

Another factor going against the Celtics is injuries. Veteran center Enes Kanter already has been ruled out and star forward Jayson Tatum is doubtful to play. 

The Celtics lead the season series 1-0 after a 112-93 win in Boston last month.

Here's how to watch NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics vs. Heat, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH

Listen and subscribe to our Celtics Talk Podcast>>>

ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 7 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Tommy Heinsohn, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

Questions on our livestream? Get all your questions answered here on our Streaming FAQ.

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Forsberg: Kobe's impact on Tatum hard to quantify

That 617 Life Podcast: Honoring Kobe Bryant and his impact on the NBA

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NBC Sports Boston photo

That 617 Life Podcast: Honoring Kobe Bryant and his impact on the NBA

The death of Kobe Bryant stunned the sports world on Sunday and sparked a plethora of reactions and tributes to the Los Angeles Lakers legend around in the NBA.

It didn't matter whether you were a Lakers fan, a Boston Celtics fan, or a fan of any of the other 28 teams in the league. Regardless of whether you loved Bryant or hated him for being the villain against your favorite team, you had to respect him.

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, noted diehard Celtics fans Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle explained how their respect for Bryant went far beyond the C's rivalry with the Lakers.

Irvin discussed how he and Celtics fans everywhere had to dislike Bryant throughout his 20-year NBA career, but everyone in Boston had the utmost respect for him as a player.

Deep down inside, we respected him. Just on the surface, we didn't acknowledge it. We didn't want to acknowledge it. But deep down inside, we knew what he meant to the game. And that hurt a lot.

Bryant was 41 years old, and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna also was involved in the helicopter crash along with seven other victims.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Foster lamented the tragic loss of a legendary figure, his daughter, and seven others who were taken far too soon.

At the end of the day, he's a legend. And no one ever wants to see a legend gone before their time. It's always tragic. It's always traumatic, but when it's way before their time it's more tragic. And I'm not even adding into the fact his daughter was there and, you know, the additional victims of this.

Battle added to Foster's takeaway, noting how the Bryant family's tragedy hits close to home.

I think part of the emotion was, dude, he was the same age as me and you. He was 41 with four kids. I'm soon to be 41 with four kids and a wife.

Forsberg: Kobe's impact on Tatum hard to quantify

There's more Kobe Bryant discussion where that came from in this week's episode of "That 617 Life" podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. Click here to listen and subscribe.