In the Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics jumped out early on the Heat and led by as many as 13 in the first half, and had a 62-54 lead at halftime.
However, Miami would explode in the third quarter and cruised from there to win Game 1.
In Game 2, Boston jumped out early on Miami, and this time, they kept the lead for good.
The Celtics led by as many as 29 points in the first half and had their largest lead of 34 points in the third as they routed the Head 127-102 Thursday night at FTX Arena to tie series at 1.
Game 3 is Saturday night in Boston.
Also, in Game 2, Boston got back two starters who missed Game 1 in Marcus Smart(foot) and Al Horford(health & safety protocols).
Smart had a near triple-double with 24 points(8/22 FG), nine rebounds, and 12 assists, and Al Horford added 10 points.
According to StatMuse, the Celtics are 4-0 when Marcus Smart scores 20-plus points these playoffs, and they are 6-0 when he takes 12-plus shots.
“We just wanted to come in and be the harder-playing team tonight, and we did that,” Smart said after the win.
According to Celtics head coach Ime Udoka, Smart, who is the Defensive Player of the Year, always sets the tone, and he set the tone Thursday night.
“Yeah, as always, he sets the tone,” Udoka said about Smart. “Defensive Player of the Year for a reason. Ability to switch and switch on to bigger bodies and just another good defender to throw at Butler, Adebayo, some of those guys and not have to worry about them trying to pick on certain matchups. So he brings the physicality every night, kind of gets everybody else in line, and adding Al back there, as well, is another versatile guy. Wasn’t surprising to see how well we guarded with our guys back.”
Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 27 points, was happy with the team’s response in Game 2.
“I think we just had a better presence about ourselves,” Tatum said. “They kicked our butt last night, and we just wanted to respond and play better on both ends of the floor, and I think we did that.”
The Celtics got the response they needed in Game 2, and more importantly, they stole home-court advantage. Now, as they return to Boston, the Celtics have the momentum on their side, and they’re hoping to take that momentum into Game 3.