Celtics get ECF revenge, beat the Heat 107-105 behind Payton Pritchard game-winner

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Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

It wasn’t pretty, but they managed to get it done.

I’m not about to rewrite my whole recap, so I’ll just add this spoiler warning – FASTPP GAME-WINNER WITH 0.2 SECONDS LEFT!!

The Boston Celtics faced off against the Miami Heat for the first time since the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals, and despite cooling off significantly after a hot start, the Cs prevailed 107-105 behind a strong outing from Jayson Tatum, who posted 27 points. Jimmy Butler had his best output for the Heat, leading the way with 26 points and 8 rebounds.

For the first time since the season opener, the Celtics had a great start to the game with the Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson starting lineup. With a Heat team starting Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk, it seemed like the right matchup for that lineup to thrive. Jaylen Brown (21 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists) and Jayson Tatum started hot, and the whole team was shooting well and making crisp on- and off-ball movements. That didn’t last.

The offense got lackadaisical, and after building a 17-point lead in the second quarter, Boston’s lead withered until Miami took the lead in the third quarter. Jayson Tatum had a very good third quarter, and that helped the Celtics stay alive instead of folding completely. In addition to Tatum, Grant Williams and Robert Williams contributed on both ends off the bench, and although the numbers weren’t there like against Toronto, Payton Pritchard (6 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists) continued to add value as the first player off the bench in Teague’s absence.

Carsen Edwards even got some run, and those minutes weren’t bad at all. He chipped in 4 points.

Miami couldn’t get a shot to fall early in the game, and it looks like they have their own double-big lineup issues to sort through. Bam Adebayo wasn’t as dominant as he was in Game 6 of the 2020 ECF, but he still punished Boston with 15 points, 7 rebounds and even 9 assists. Still, it was Jimmy Butler who led the way, turning an aggressive second quarter with hard drives into the early makings of a strong game for him. He finished with XX.

Boston and Miami went hit for hit in the fourth quarter. I counted maybe three potential injuries? But if my heart rate hadn’t been so high, it would have been an entertaining game. After Boston’s big lead fell apart, these teams were evenly matched for the most part. It’s interesting to note that Daniel Theis looked great in the first quarter when no one was missing and down the stretch. Theis, Tatum and Brown keyed an 13-0 run with about 3:00 left in the game and didn’t look back.

That’s what I wrote with a minute left, and then the Celtics gave up a Duncan Robinson 7-0 run, including a four-point play. Then another Goran Dragic 3-pointer tied the game up. Sigh.

This team still has a long way to go.

Payton Pritchard won the game with 0.2 seconds left with an offensive rebound and putback. He’s having an amazing season so far that’s going far beyond what anyone – and I mean ANYONE – expected.

The 6-3 Boston Celtics have now won three straight games. They take on the Washington Wizards on Friday at 7:30 PM EST.