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JB’s Season-Best Effort Spoiled, as Heat Split Miniseries with C’s

BOSTON – Jaylen Brown tried his best to put the Boston Celtics on his back Friday night, but one man’s heroics were not enough to help his team preserve an impressive home winning streak.

The star wing posted season highs in both the scoring and rebounding departments against the visiting Miami Heat and knocked down a miraculous 3-pointer to send the game into overtime. However, the Heat got revenge for their 134-121 loss to the C’s Wednesday night with a 120-116 win, splitting their two-game miniseries in Boston.

Brown recorded 37 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists, becoming the seventh Celtic to log such a performance in franchise history along with Larry Bird, Dave Cowens, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce, Bill Russell, and Antoine Walker.

Even more memorable than the impressive statistics was the superhuman shot Brown made that nearly saved Boston’s 10-game winning streak at TD Garden, which included the first five contests of its six-game homestand.

Down 110-107 with 5.1 seconds remaining, Brown caught an inbound pass from Marcus Smart 30 feet from the basket and hoisted it up as soon as possible to avoid getting fouled since the Heat had one to give. Despite being off-balanced and off-centered, Brown managed to bank in the rainbow attempt, sending the game into overtime.

“Jaylen’s been making big shots for us all year, his whole career here, and that’s what we lean on him for,” said Marcus Smart, whose 18-point effort was tied with Grant Williams for second on the team in scoring.

Unfortunately, Brown's big bucket didn’t faze the Heat, who, behind four 20-point scorers, regained their footing and managed to walk away with a four-point victory.

Although it was a high-scoring game, Boston didn’t seem to have its typical offensive firepower. The team snapped its franchise-record-tying streak of nine straight wins at TD Garden while scoring 120-plus points.

“I think it was just one of those nights,” said interim head coach Joe Mazzulla. “I thought we did a lot of good things. We were up 91-83 and I think that's what we take from this game. When you're in great positions against great teams, you have to execute. So they go on a 13-0 run to go up 96-91 and that's the difference in the game sometimes. It's not over in the fourth quarter or overtime; we just have to manage pockets of the game better.”

Sparked by the return of Jimmy Butler from a seven-game injury absence, Miami was playing like a team on a mission. Butler helped to lead the way with a 25-point effort, knocking in a few clutch buckets both toward the end of the fourth quarter and at the end of overtime.

Having the best record in the league means the Celtics have a target painted on their back, and Smart said the team could feel that target against a hungry Miami squad.

“When we're playing as well as we're playing, everybody's going to be out to get you,” said Smart. “They’re going to do every little trick they can in the book to get a win. That's the responsibility that comes with it. That's a compliment to us. And for that, we have to come out and be ready. Tonight, we weren't as ready as we usually are, and they got the best of us.”

Even though losing doesn’t feel good, sometimes it’s important to get served those reminders.

Williams says losses like these keep the team “humble,” and remind them to not get too comfortable with their success.

“It keeps us understanding that we're not some perfect juggernaut that can't get knocked off,” he concluded. “We're a team that has performed and will continue to perform as long as we continue to have a level head and keep our minds at ease."