May 30, 2024

Heat Aiming for Another Playoff Upset Against Celtics the Top Seed

Heat Aiming for Another Playoff Upset Against Celtics, the Top Seed

The intensity is rising in the NBA first-round playoff series between the Celtics and the Heat as the teams are now tied, following Miami’s commanding 111–104 victory in Game 2 at the TD Garden on Wednesday.

These two teams have become familiar foes in the postseason, clashing in four of the past five years. Last season, Miami dashed the Celtics’ hopes in the conference finals in a grueling seven-game series, instilling confidence in the Heat as they entered this latest showdown. In Game 2, Miami set a franchise record by sinking 23 three-pointers, propelling them past their conference rivals. Tyler Herro was instrumental, knocking down six of those triples and tallying 24 points and 14 assists.

Adding to the drama is Miami’s absence of six-time All-Star Jimmy Butler, sidelined for the entire series due to a knee injury. Despite his absence on the court, Butler’s leadership looms large as he encourages his teammates behind the scenes.

“Before the series, JB texted me to take the team and lead these guys,” shared Herro. “Just make every right play. It’s not all about scoring. In the playoffs, you have to make the right play, and our guys showed it tonight. Everybody came to play. We lost badly in Game 1, and everybody responded. That’s all you can ask for from a group of guys.”

In Game 1, the Celtics asserted their dominance with a 114-94 victory, led by Jayson Tatum’s first career playoff triple-double of 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. However, Game 2 saw the Heat’s sharpshooting overwhelm the Celtics, despite Tatum’s team-high 28 points.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” remarked Tatum. “There’s a lot of history between these two franchises, especially recently, regardless of seeding and who’s in and who’s out. It’s the playoffs, and it’s never going to go exactly as people expect it to go, and that’s the beauty of being in the playoffs and playing at the highest level.”

Defensively, the Celtics will rely on Jrue Holiday, who recently signed a lucrative contract extension. Holiday, averaging 12.5 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 4.9 assists in his debut season in Boston, contributed nine points, two assists, and two steals in Game 2.

Despite their regular-season success, the Celtics are aware that playoffs present a different challenge. Similarly, the Heat are fueled by the belief that anything is possible in the postseason, drawing inspiration from last year’s stunning upset over the Bucks.

Game 3 promises to be another fiercely contested battle as the series shifts to Miami. As Herro succinctly puts it, “We’re here. Anything can happen. We don’t even want to mention last year. This year is a whole new year. We feel like we have a great group of guys… We just love to compete, and that’s all it’s about.”

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