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Heat fall to Celtics 105-95 in second half thriller

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Despite a forgettable first half Miami would battle back in the second half, but ultimately fall short in the closing minutes.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After a forgettable first half, the Heat were spectacular in the third quarter. While they would struggle at times in the fourth they had one great push that would ultimately fall short. See how it went down below:

It was Boston who drew first blood against the Heat, but Miami was quick to return fire on the opposite end courtesy of Hassan Whiteside.

The Celtics have an extremely dynamic offense. As a basketball fan it’s very fun to watch, but as a Heat fan I’d rather them show off against other teams. The Heat are usually a very solid defensive team, but watching them lately they seem flatfooted on the defensive end and sometimes lazy to get back. This was evident early in the first quarter as the Celtics beat the Heat on multiple pick and pops and on a fast break because Miami was complaining on the other end.

Despite some great plays from Dragic and Whiteside, the first quarter belonged to the Celtics. Going on a 23-6 scoring run, their guards lit up Miami’s defense and never slowed down. Miami’s was missing something on the defensive end, and inserted Justise Winslow to stop the bleeding. The Heat would go small at the end of the first in an effort to change the flow of the game and it worked somewhat.

Notwithstanding the fact that Miami was down nearly 20 headed into the second quarter, the reserves had injected new life into the lineup.

The Celtics continued to score in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but Miami did claw out of their scoring drought somewhat. Tyler Johnson seemed to injure his shoulder after a hard hit, but he remained in the game.

It’s great seeing Justise back in the lineup, while it would be fantastic if he didn’t hesitate to shoot the ball, he does a lot of great work on both ends and his spacing is phenomenal.

Unfortunately, the Celtics were largely un-phased by Miami’s adjustments and remained deadly on offense. As the half came to a close the Heat started to come alive on offense and scored on some beautiful plays including an amazing Hassan Whiteside alley-oop, and a McGruder put back jam. With that being said, it was the Celtics who’d score at the buzzer to end the half.

Josh Richardson would open the second half by scoring a jumper on a light touch. Richardson has become noticeably more comfortable since returning from his ankle injury, and as a result returned to the starting lineup tonight.

The Celtics elected to shoot multiple threes early in the half, but were cold and thus blew three straight possessions. After calling a timeout, the Celtics started to attack the key. This was great for Miami as Whiteside was able to alter shots on the defensive end and send Miami on a much needed scoring run.

Things became very competitive as the Heat and Celtics started going at back and forth on offense, though there was some sloppy play by the Heat. There was one great moment that I noticed at the end of the third quarter where Tyler Johnson (who had been shooting poorly) deferred to Goran Dragic (who was on fire) it was a testament to Johnson’s basketball IQ and just a great basketball decision.

At the beginning of the season, Miami never really had a go to guy to spark a scoring run, but it seems as if Dragic has embraced that role. He was the one who brought Miami within single digits of the Celtics off a great three pointer.

With Dragic heading to the bench to avoid foul trouble, it was Hassan Whiteside who would take over for Miami. It was almost as if he managed grabbed every single rebound, and he continued to deliver on offense as well.

Miami came alive to end the quarter bringing it within six thanks to some great play by Whiteside. Entering the fourth quarter the Heat were actually in a real position to take over.

Miami continued to be aggressive on offense to start the fourth, finding themselves on the free throw line often (though they missed a lot of them). The Celtics would fight back and bring their lead back to 12, and continue to score down the line.

It was Dragic who kept Miami in the game, with his spectacular shooting from beyond the arc (he was perfect from downtown with 7 minutes to go). This would spark some scoring from Miami, but their decision to go small left Whiteside on the bench and no one to protect the key.

With Whiteside out it was Horford who was able to cause chaos, scoring six straight points. The Heat would go on to take some very tough shots, but find their groove in the closing minutes going on an 9-0 scoring run after the Celtics’ Isiah Thomas was ejected (he had a flagrant two called on him after elbowing Justise). Despite the scoring run, Miami couldn’t fully bring things back and would ultimately fall to Boston.

Game Notes:

  • The Heat had a ridiculous amount of turnovers tonight (23 of them). Obviously it’s nearly impossible to win games when you’re coughing up possession after possession.
  • In a game as close as this one turned out to be, the Heat not being able to deliver from the free throw line is unacceptable.
  • The Heat have had a lot of defensive lapses lately, there were many tonight and it certainly didn’t help things.
  • This was such a weird game, Miami shot 54% from the field, had 23 turnovers and 23 assists. These stats are just bizarre.