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Celtics smack Heat 127-102, even series 1-1

The Heat suffered their first home playoff loss of the year.

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

The Miami Heat got off to a hot start Thursday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals, building a quick 10-point lead and forcing Ime Udoka to call the first timeout of the game.

That was about all that went well for the Heat.

The Celtics wrestled control back from Miami with some hot 3-point shooting — they started 9-of-11 from beyond the arc — and never looked back. On the other end of the floor, Miami struggled to generate good looks against a Boston team that had Al Horford and Marcus Smart back. (The Heat remained without Kyle Lowry.)

Boston went up by as many as 29 points in the first half before settling on a 70-45 halftime lead. Jimmy Butler tried to will the Heat back into the game with a valiant third-quarter run getting to the basket. An and-one from him with 3:46 left to go cut the deficit to 17 points, but the Celtics responded to build the lead back to 25 points at the end of three quarters. This game actually resembled one of the Milwaukee Bucks blowout wins during their sweep of the Heat a year ago.

Late in the third period, Erik Spoelstra turned to Duncan Robinson for a quick stint. He missed all three of his 3-point attempts, but made a nice drive to the basket for a layup.

P.J. Tucker suffered a left knee contusion early in the period and did not return. It’s too early to speculate as to Tucker’s availability in Game 3, but the Heat did play with Butler as the backup power forward — not Caleb Martin — towards the end of the regular season, flanked by Robinson and Tyler Herro for spacing.

Similar to Miami’s losses in Games 3 and 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers, Butler did everything offensively. He finished with 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting from the field and 6-of-8 shooting from he foul line. Butler also collected six rebounds and three assists. It was a fine game from Butler — and he still got to his spots with Smart defending him — but not the dominant 41-point masterpiece he put on in Game 1.

Miami’s other two leading scorers, Adebayo and Herro, did not do their jobs. The 2020 All-Star had just six points and nine rebounds in the game. Adebayo didn’t score his first points until the second quarter, and it came off an offensive rebound. The Heat center has played so well defensively this playoffs that it’s been easy to overlook his pedestrian offensive numbers. In Game 3, Adebayo needs to go back to the player who dominated the Celtics frontline in 2020.

And Herro shot 5-of-11 from the field, including zero-for-three from downtown. Herro made some nice shots in the first half to stop the bleeding, but also turned the ball over when the Celtics trapped him. Herro needs to go back to the 20-point scorer from the regular season.

Miami’s second-best player was actually Gabe Vincent, who knocked down 4-of-8 shots from beyond the arc and finished with 14 points.

After their first home loss of the playoffs, the Heat will travel to Boston for Game 3 Saturday at 8:30 p.m.