Heat 66, Celtics 78
It took a while, but the Boston Celtics finally looked like the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter of tonight’s 78-66 win over the Miami Heat.
Throughout the first two quarters of this contest, the C’s looked disjointed, discombobulated, out of rhythm and any other negative descriptor you could dream up. Missing five of their top players, there simply wasn’t any chemistry on the floor. That missing element led to a total of just 28 points in the first half.
Thankfully, things picked up shortly thereafter.
The Celtics put in 22 points during the third quarter - the highest-scoring quarter of the game to that point - but still headed into the final period locked into a 50-50 tie. However, it was visible that as that third quarter progressed and the fourth quarter approached, Boston was finding its offensive rhythm.
That rhythm came to the forefront of this game in the final period. The Celtics began to play as a unit and recorded seven of their 15 total assists in the fourth. Sasha Pavlovic was the beneficiary of many of those assists, as he scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the final 12 minutes of the game.
With so many players missing from tonight’s game and so many more having a rare opportunity to play with each other in a real, meaningful NBA game, we were destined to watch some ugly basketball in the first half. As Doc Rivers alluded to after the game, though, the team began to trust each other and play Celtics basketball as the game wore on.
“The only thing I didn’t think we did in the first half that we did in the second half… we played together in the second half,” said Rivers. “In the first half it was every guy who got the ball was going to show the coach that he could play, and that never works. Not in team sports, at least. And I thought in the second half, they just let the ball find the open guy and then went back to playing the way we like to play.”
The result of that team-oriented play in the second half turned this game into a blowout in the final minutes. It also kept alive Boston’s hopes of hosting Games 1 and 2 of the first round of the playoffs.
Key Box Score Line
Sasha Pavlovic didn’t start off tonight’s game very well. In fact, he did the opposite with zero points on 0-for-2 shooting in the first half.
He was essentially a nonfactor, but that didn’t force him to sulk and disappear in the second half.
Pavlovic instead battled through his difficult start and eventually found a groove. He finished with a game-high 16 points and shot a ridiculous 7-of-8 from the floor, including two 3-pointers, in the second half. Twelve of those points arrived in the fourth quarter, helping to lead the C’s to an important victory.
“That was huge for Sasha,” his coach said after the game. “I thought it was, especially in the fact that Sasha really struggled in the first half and then he came in the second half and played terrific.”
That’s not an easy thing to do, particularly when you’ve played sporadic minutes all season long. Somehow, Pavlovic figured out a way to pull it off, and it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Box Score Nuggets
- Miami was forced into 25 turnovers that led to 20 points for Boston.
- Sasha Pavlovic scored a game-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
- There were only four players in the game who scored in double-figures.
- Brandon Bass led the Celtics with eight rebounds and also logged eight points.
- Udonis Haslem grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds in less than 24 minutes of action.
- The Heat shot just 38.4 percent in the game.
- The Celtics led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter.
- Miami scored 17 points in each of the first two quarters, and then scored 16 points in each of the final two quarters.
- The Celtics, meanwhile, increased their scoring output in each of the four quarters.
- Dexter Pittman led the Heat in scoring with 12 points.
- Marquis Daniels stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, five rebounds, a team-high four assists, two steals and a blocked shot.
- Miami attempted just seven free throws in the game and made only four of them.
- Both teams scored 10 second-chance points.
- The Heat did not score a single fast-break point.
- E'Twaun Moore scored seven points and grabbed a career-high seven rebounds.
Quote of the Night
Doc Rivers on the possibility of Sasha Pavlovic or Marquis Daniels playing a role in the playoffs: "You know, Sasha and Marquis may be very similar to the role that Baby (Glen Davis) and Leon (Powe) played. They push each other, and that could be good for us."