Celtics were beaten at their own game at 3-point line in Game 2 loss to Heat

Published Apr. 24, 2024 10:58 p.m. ET

BOSTON (AP) — After outscoring the Heat by 42 points from the 3-point line in a 20-point playoff series-opening win, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla knew Miami would adjust for Game 2.

The Heat did, taking a page from how Boston demoralized opponents from beyond the arc throughout the regular season.

Miami connected on a franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers, stunning the East’s top-seeded Celtics 111-101 on Wednesday night.

Boston, the NBA’s second-best 3-point shooting team, set its own playoff franchise record with 22 3-point makes in Game 1. But, it went just 12 of 32 on Wednesday. The Heat finished 23 of 43, which was also a franchise playoff record for 3s made by a Boston opponent.


Tyler Herro led Miami with six 3s, followed by Caleb Martin with five. Six Heat players had at least two triples.

While Miami’s volume was up and put pressure on Boston, Mazzulla thought his team did try to make things difficult on the perimeter.

“They obviously made a conscious effort to have free reign to shoot more,” Mazzulla said. “I thought most of those were moderately to heavily contested. And so we’re going to have to make the adjustments on some of those.”

It didn’t take long to see Miami would be willing to let the ball fly more from the outside.

The Heat had eight 3-pointers in the first quarter after connecting on 12 total in Game 1. Of their 19 field goal attempts in the quarter, 15 were 3s. By comparison, Boston had just eight.

Miami also had only one 2-point field goal in the period.

Boston went to a zone at times, but Miami was efficient, getting to spots on fast breaks before the Celtics could set their defense.

“It seemed we couldn’t get them to miss. We thought they were good closeouts. ... But they had a record-breaking night,” Celtics forward Jaylen Brown said.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said before the game that his team’s volume had to increase because of the Celtics’ 3-point output in Game 1. He didn’t think they'd hold Boston to 25 attempts or shoot 50 themselves.

Miami didn't, but came very close on both numbers.

“It always looks better when you make shots,” Spoelstra said. “Those are the ones that are available, and if we don’t take them, it potentially looks a lot like Game 1.”

Boston averaged an NBA-high 42.5 attempts per game this season and had 49 in Game 1.

Martin, whose hard foul on Jayson Tatum late in Game 1 resulted in a brief face-to-face skirmish with Brown, was showered with boos whenever he touched the ball on Wednesday.

He also was one of Miami’s most effective 3-point shooters early, connecting on three in the opening 24 minutes. Herro led the Heat with four 3s in the half.

As a team, the Heat went 13 of 24 and trailed 61-58 at halftime. Boston was 8 of 20 from deep in the half, but All-Stars Brown and Jayson Tatum combined for 39 points, going 16 of 27 from field and 5 of 12 from 3.

But the Heat stayed hot in the third quarter, going 6 of 9 from distance to take a 85-79 lead into the fourth.

“It’s a make-or-miss league. We have to come back and respond for next game,” Brown said.


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