The Miami Heat overcame a double-digit first-half deficit at home against the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series Tuesday evening.
Miami found itself down by eight points at the half before an absolutely extraordinary third quarter performance saw the home team score 22 of the first 24 points. By the start of the fourth quarter, Erik Spoelstra’s squad had opened up a 20-point lead.
Heat star Jimmy Butler continued to play tremendous all-around basketball. On the other end, Jayson Tatum struggled with turnovers for the Celtics as they were looking to make up for the absences of fellow starters Marcus Smart and Al Horford.
Despite the lopsided nature of Miami’s win, the team simply maintained homecourt. However, it’s the way that they won which tells us a story about this series moving forward. In reviewing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, we give you four takeaways from the Miami Heat defeating the Boston Celtics by the score of 118-107.
Boston Celtics missed Marcus Smart’s presence, need him to return soon
Miami’s starting backcourt of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus combined to shoot 9-of-19 fom the field. Those aren’t necessarily great numbers. They also aren’t indicative of just how much Boston missed the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year.
Smart is a table setter on defense. He call the plays out on the perimeter and finds a way to switch. We did not see as much of this with Smart sidelined. In the end, the Celtics yielded 118 points to a Heat team that’s somewhat limited on offense.
For a team that yielded an average of 88 points in the final two games of its Eastern Conference Semifinals series against Milwaukee, giving up 118 in Game 1 is not acceptable. That included wings Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro scoring a combined 59 points on 19-of-34 shooting. If Marcus Smart had played the story would’ve been different for the Boston Celtics.
Gabe Vincent provides major punch for the Miami Heat
Vincent had started all six games Kyle Lowry missed in the playoffs leading up to the Eastern Conference Finals. Miami won all six games. With Lowry once again sidelined in Game 1, the underrated guard continued to pick up his game.
Vincent, 25, scored 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting. Miami was plus-23 with him on the court. He played tremendous defense out on the perimeter and blocked a total of three shots throughout the game. It’s not necessarily a surprise that Vincent stepped up. This has been part of the the process since his G-League days.
Vincent might not have been the strongest or fastest player on the court Tuesday evening in South Beach. However, he was among the biggest X-factors. That’s not even debatable.
Jimmy Butler was typically dominant self for the Miami Heat
It’s no surprise that Jimmy Buckets was getting “MVP” chants inside FTX Arena in South Beach Tuesday evening. He’s joined Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic in being the MVP of the NBA Playoffs thus far. It has not been close.
- Jimmy Butler stats (2022 NBA Playoffs): 28.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.1 SPG, 53% shooting
Butler added even more to his postseason resume Tuesday against the Celtics. The Miami Heat star scored 41 points on 12-of-19 shooting. He connected on 17-of-18 from the charity stripe while adding nine rebounds, five assists, four steals and three blocks. This represents the third 40-point game of the 2022 NBA Playoffs from Butler. That’s just insane.
Robert Williams does well in limited action for the Boston Celtics
Moving forward in this series, it’s going to be important for Boston to get production from Williams and Al Horford (when he returns from COVID-19 protocols). The two centers provide something different with Williams pounding inside and Horford being able to connect from the outside.
Seeing an uptick in action with Horford sidelined, Williams’ sore knee didn’t necessarily show in Game 1. He finished with 18 points and nine rebounds while connecting on 6-of-8 from the field. Boston was plus-five in the 28 minutes he played while the team was minus-16 when he sat.