Brad Stevens opened up Tuesday’s fourth quarter with a lineup of five players who were all 6-foot-6 or shorter.
The seldom-used lineup consisted of Kemba Walker, Brad Wanamaker, Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye and Grant Williams, and it worked perfectly.
The small-but-athletic lineup ran circles around the Heat while helping the Celtics to build a nine-point lead early on in the fourth. This group’s speed, smarts and skill led to four offensive rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot over the first three-plus minutes of the quarter, all while limiting Miami to 1-for-3 shooting from the field.
And when one of opening players checked out, another checked in and continued the momentum. Marcus Smart replaced Walker at the 9:14 mark and went on to can a big 3-pointer 95 seconds later to push the Celtics ahead by 11 with 7:39 left.
More plays were certainly needed in order for Boston to hold onto its lead. Miami on multiple occasions pulled back to within six points, and at one point pulled back to within five, but the C’s responded each and every time they needed to do so.
First, it was Brown with a driving layup in transition. Second, it was a clutch trey from Walker. Next, it was Gordon Hayward stopping on a dime and kissing a jumper off the glass. Then, it was a 3-pointer from the top of the arc from Smart after Miami had clawed back to within five. Lastly, it was Walker with a free throw.
Boston’s lead never dropped to fewer than five points after that opening group pushed the lead up to double-digits. The C’s went on to win by a score of 109-101.
Jayson Tatum was out again Tuesday night, so Gordon Hayward stepped up.
Hayward poured in a game-high 29 points to help lead the Celtics to a road victory over the Heat. The swingman was outstanding from all over the court, making 10 of his 14 shots, one of his two 3-pointers, and eight of his 10 free throws.
Hayward was also strong in the rebounding department, where his nine boards were the most among any wing in the game. He also dished out two assists and blocked a shot in nearly 38 minutes of action.
Boston outscored Miami by 10 points while Hayward was on the floor. His skill and ability to break the defense down off of the dribble was a big reason why the C’s were able to figure themselves out offensively while Miami threw a funky zone defense at them.
Box Score Nuggets
- Only two players in the game scored more than 20 points, and they were both Celtics: Gordon Hayward with 29, and Jaylen Brown with 25.
- Daniel Theis grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds.
- Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 20 point.
- Tyler Herro was a minus-20 in the plus/minus category.
- Miami outscored Boston 44-38 in the paint, and 26-18 from the free-throw line.
- Boston dished out 24 assists, compared to just 15 by Miami.
- Marcus Smart blocked a game-high three shots.
- Semi Ojeleye provided a little bit of everything, with seven points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal off of the bench.
- Boston limited Miami to just 37.1 percent shooting from the field and 24.3 percent shooting from long distance.
- The Celtics led by as many as 13 points, while the Heat never led by more than two points.
- Kemba Walker dished out a game-best eight assists, more than double that of any Heat player. He also scored 16 points.
Quote of the Night
I think we’re getting back to Celtics basketball, how we started the year.
Jaylen Brown on the Celtics