After answering pregame questions about the neighboring Patriots’ berth into the Super Bowl, the Boston Celtics stole a term from their friends’ sport: they blitzed the Miami Heat.
Miami, a team that always plays the C’s tough, did so again during the first half of Monday’s matchup at the Garden. The teams were all evened up at 50-50 when they headed to the locker rooms for halftime.
When the second half opened up, however, Boston was primed to blitz the Heat and put them on their heels.
The Celtics scored the first nine points of the third period to get the ball rolling in their direction. They kept on rolling through the remainder of the period and built a 21-point advantage on the back of their starters.
Jayson Tatum scored 11 points during the quarter, Al Horford tallied 10, and the starters combined to dish out 10 assists. They also combined to shoot 71.4 percent from the field while building their commanding lead.
As is customary in the NBA, Miami did make a run to get back into the game. The Heat clawed back to within five with 4:32 remaining, but they were never able to fully erase the massive lead Boston had built.
That lead, which reached as many as 22 points, was insurmountable and was fueled by Boston’s third-quarter blitz. It was also the reason why the C’s earned their fourth straight victory, and their eighth overall in their last 11 games.
Al Horford is playing his best basketball of his season, and Monday night was his best effort of this recent hot stretch.
Horford compiled his fourth double-double of the season by totaling 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds against Miami. His 12 boards were three more than any other player grabbed during the contest.
The big man’s scoring effort was buoyed by his efficient shooting from the field. He made eight of his 11 shot attempts, which were fired up from all over the court from 20 feet and in.
To best understand the effect of Horford’s presence, look no further than the plus/minus category. The Celtics outscored Miami by a whopping 30 points while he as on the court for his 32-plus minutes of action.
Box Score Nuggets
- Four of Boston's five starters scored at least 16 points, led by Kyrie Irving's game-high 26.
- Irving grabbed a career-high eight steals, and also dished out a game-high 10 assists.
- Miami's bench outscored Boston's 66-23.
- Dion Waiters and Derrick Jones Jr., two reserves, led Miami with 18 points apiece.
- Both teams committed 19 turnovers.
- Four Celtics made at least two 3-poiners.
- All five Celtics starters finished with plus/minus ratings of at least plus-16.
- Both teams scored 17 fast break points.
- Boston led by as many as 22 points.
- The Celtics had the game's top scorer (Irving, 26 points), assist man (Irving, 10 assists) and rebounder (Horford, 12 rebounds).
Quote of the Night
A lot of those steals happened because he was in perfect position.
Brad Stevens on Kyrie Irving.