Celtics Set Tone With Balanced Attack in Game 1 Win over Heat

Celtics Set Tone With Balanced Attack in Game 1 Win over Heat

Celtics Set Tone With Balanced Attack in Game 1 Win over Heat

BOSTON – Boston used balance to establish dominance over the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon to set the tone for the opening round of the playoffs.

Six different Celtics scored between 10 and 23 points, Jayson Tatum logged his first career playoff triple-double, and the C’s blasted past the Heat at TD Garden to take Game 1 of the postseason, 114-94.

Jaylen Brown ignited a 14-0 start with a 3-pointer and a spin-move dunk out of the gate. The Celtics rode that momentum, going up by as many as 34 points in the second half before taking a 91-59 lead into the final frame.

It was an impressive open for a team that had just had an entire week off between games. However, Derrick White didn’t think there would be any rust despite the extended break.

“We didn’t walk into the game, per se, because we had the long layoff,” he said. “Just wanted to be aggressive from the start, and I think we did a good job of that.”

White was one of the six Celtics who reached double-digits in scoring, as he finished second on the team with 20 points. Kristaps Porzingis logged 18 points, Jaylen Brown was right behind with 17, and Sam Hauser and Al Horford recorded 12 points and 10 points off the bench, respectively.

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Leading the balanced team attack was Tatum with one of the most balanced individual games of his career. He logged 23 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals, becoming the first Celtic to record a playoff triple-double since Marcus Smart on Sept. 9, 2020 against Toronto.

“His mindset and approach throughout the game was great,” Joe Mazzulla said of Tatum’s performance. “I thought he played with great patience, thought he picked and chose his spots very well. I thought he took what the defense gave him and found the balance of creating for himself and for others. So to fight for that discipline on the offensive end, on both ends of the floor really, is a huge key to this series.”

Another key to this series is withstanding Miami’s runs, which the C’s managed to do in Game 1. After falling into that 14-0 hole, the Heat rallied and pulled within three points early in the second quarter. But Boston punched right back and took an even greater lead than the one with which it opened the game.

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“They’re a good team. They’re going to make runs,” said White. “We’ve seen that for years now. Just trying to maintain that poise when they make runs. Just trying to settle down and figure out how we can get a great look offensively, and whatever the defense is, just make them work.”

The Celtics made Miami work by unleashing Hauser, who made four consecutive 3-pointers during a 2:41 stretch early in the second quarter to put his team back up by 12. Boston is going to need those types of efforts off the bench, and he, Al Horford, and Payton Pritchard all contributed, as Mazzulla stuck with the same eight-man rotation that we saw in the regular season.

“Sam is a big reason we extended the game in that second quarter,” said Tatum. “You’re going to need things like that to be successful in the playoffs. It’s not always going to be the guys that start the game. Any given night, we’re going to count on somebody off the bench to change the pace of the game, or kind of mess things up in a good way and change the dynamic of what we’re doing.”

As long as the Celtics keep doing what they’re doing, it’s going to be hard to beat them. At least that’s how Porzingis felt coming out of Game 1.

“I’m glad that we came out the way we came out today,” he said after his first Celtics postseason experience. “We just set the stage for the rest of our path.”

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