Celtics-Heat takeaways: Marcus Smart does it all in Game 2. The comeback originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics rebounded from their disappointing Game 1 loss with a dominating performance against the Miami Heat in Game 2.
After dropping 10 points early in the first quarter, the C’s edged the Heat by 35 in the final 19 minutes of the first half. They finished the half 70-45, marking the franchise’s largest halftime lead on the road in playoff 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 final against the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Celtics missed Game 1 with a disastrous third quarter, but there was no slump this time around. They picked up a 127-102 win to tie the series at 1-1.
Jayson Tatum paced Boston with 27 points in the win while Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart added 24 apiece. Jimmy Butler scored 29 points and Gabe Vincent added 14 in a losing effort for Miami.
Game 3 at TD Garden is scheduled for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET. Here are our takeaways from the C victory.
Marcus Smart and 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 sprained foot, was the star of Boston’s Game 2 victory. The Defensive Player of the Year had his usual impact on this end of the field, but he was also key to the Celtics’ offensive success.
The C’s collected 28 assists on 43 baskets. Smart was the driving force behind this elite ball movement as he contributed to 12 of those assists. He also had 24 points and just missed a triple-double with nine rebounds.
Smart scored 17 of his points in 17 minutes to help the Celtics hold on to their 20-point second-half lead. He became the first Celtic with 20 points, 10 assists and three steals in the playoffs since Rajon Rondo in 2012.
In his last three games, Smart has had 29 assists for just three turnovers.
Horford’s numbers don’t come off the stat sheet, but the veteran big man has always made a difference on 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 win.
Evening “Three” in Boston
A first-half 3-point barrage put Miami in an early hole it just couldn’t get 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 range. 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%) on 3-point range. That big gap ended up being the difference in a Game 2 blowout.
Grant Williams and Payton Pritchard shine on the bench
When Tatum, Smart and Brown failed to fill in the stat sheet, it was Williams and Pritchard who did the damage. The duo had a huge impact, especially in the Celtics’ first half.
Williams scored eight of his 19 points in his first six minutes. He was 5 of 7 from the field and 7 of 8 from the free throw line. He also knocked down four boards and was a +37.
Pritchard had 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting with two assists and a steal in 23 minutes. The sophomore guard was a record +39, one of the highest +/- off the bench in playoff history, by StatMuse.