Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3

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Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3
Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3

Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3

The Boston Celtics went from looking like they were in deep trouble after Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to delivering a severe beating to the Miami Heat in Game 2.

The difference in performances by both squads makes Game 3 feel extra pivotal when the best-of-seven series continues Saturday night in Boston.

Miami used a 25-point margin of difference in the third quarter of Game 1 to cruise to a 118-107 victory. But with Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart back on the court in Game 2, the Celtics led by as many as 34 while whipping the Heat 127-102.

Miami star Jimmy Butler termed the performance as embarrassing after Thursday night’s setback, while teammate Gabe Vincent cautioned against letting the disappointment linger.

We lost a game in the playoffs before,” Vincent said. “It’s a loss, whether you lose by one or by 20. Go back to the drawing board and get ready for Game 3.”

But it was the way the Heat lost that was so alarming.

The Celtics had Smart (foot) and Al Horford (COVID-19 protocol) back after missing the opener and easily responded after falling down by 10 in the first 4 1/2 minutes.

The Celtics’ response was so swift and powerful that they led by 29 late in the second quarter. Boston led 70-45 at halftime partially thanks to 12-of-19 shooting from 3-point range.

Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3
Series shifts to Boston as Celtics, Heat meet for pivotal Game 3

“I think the sign of a good team is how you respond after losses, especially tough ones,” Celtics star Jayson Tatum said. “It just kind of shows the character of the group. We’ve done a really good job most of the year responding after tough losses and situations.”

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