Just 48 hours after Jimmy Butler erupted to lead the Miami Heat to a double-digit Game 1 win over the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals, the two teams took the floor for a pivotal Game 2 tilt at FTX Arena. The result was quite different in the rematch, however, as the Celtics played a near-perfect first half to take complete control and rode that advantage to a 127-102 victory that doubled as Miami’s first home loss in the 2022 NBA Playoffs.
At the outset, it was actually Miami that controlled the pace. The Heat used a 13-3 run to take an 18-8 lead, with Miami making four of its first five three-point attempts with no turnovers in the opening minutes.
Though that was the start Miami likely desired, it did not last. In fact, Boston flipped the script decisively with a 24-3 run that included a stretch of 17 consecutive points. Miami scored only three points in the span of almost seven minutes, with Boston putting together a spurt of 20 points in eight possessions.
The Celtics shot 63 percent from the floor and a blistering 9-of-11 from three-point range in the first quarter, racking up ten assists in the process. Following Miami’s hot start, the Heat missed 12 of their final 14 shots in the period, with Boston seizing control. That didn’t stop early in the second quarter, as the Celtics used a 12-4 run to cap a 39-10 extended stretch and build a 47-28 lead.
Boston kept coming, building its lead to as many as 29 points in the first half, even when remembering the visitors once trailed by double figures in the first quarter. Jayson Tatum scored 20 points before halftime, making seven of his ten shot attempts, and the Celtics shot 59 percent from the floor and 12-of-19 from three-point range with 16 turnovers and four assists as a team.
The Celtics went into the locker room with a 25-point advantage, having scored nearly 1.6 points per possession against a top-flight defense on the road in the first half. Coming out of the break, Butler did have designs on a comeback bid, scoring 16 points in the first nine minutes of the third quarter and keying a 12-2 run that slashed Boston’s lead to 17.
That was as competitive as the game became, though, and the Celtics reinstalled a 25-point edge at the end of the third quarter and led by as many as 34 points on the way to the blowout win. In addition, Miami announced during the third period that standout forward P.J. Tucker was ruled out of action with a left knee contusion, and any limitation for Tucker would be difficult for the Heat to withstand moving forward in the series.
In what became a 25-point defeat, there were two-way issues for Miami. Aside from the individual brilliance of Butler (29 points in 32 minutes), there wasn’t much to be excited about on offense, with the Heat shooting just 29 percent from beyond the arc and committing 15 turnovers against only 21 assists. On defense, Miami had all kinds of trouble slowing the Celtics, even when acknowledging that Boston was scorching from the perimeter.
Four players scored at least 19 points for Boston, led by dynamic performances from Tatum and Marcus Smart. Tatum finished with 27 points in only 31 minutes of action, and Smart excelled with 24 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds after missing Game 1 with a foot injury. As a team, Boston produced a shooting barrage with 20-of-40 from three-point range, 21-of-23 from the free throw line, and 51 percent overall. That shooting exhibition set a lofty baseline, and the Celtics also took care of the ball (10 turnovers) and defended at a high level.
While Miami can find solace in the Game 1 victory, Boston accomplished the logical goal of the lower-seeded team in splitting the pair of road games to begin the series. That places pressure on the Heat as they attempt to recapture home-court advantage in Game 3, with the series shifting to TD Garden in Boston on Saturday evening.