(AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)
By Patrick Whalen
The Celtics headed down to South Beach after taking down the Pacers at home. This game being the second in a back to back and on the road would be a tough challenge for the Celts no matter the team. The Celtics would have the usual two names on the injury report as Aron Baynes still remains sidelined with his broken hand and Horford still has a minutes restriction due to the tendonitis in his knee. Miami would also be missing a key player as Goran Dragic remains out for the foreseeable future. This game sadly would not go the Celtics way as the Heat jump out to an early lead and never relinquished it.
Leading the Celtics offensive efforts was Kyrie Irving who had 22 points on 10-19 shooting with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He even got 2 points via an assist from Robert Williams who must have thought he needed to repay Irving for all his lob assists.
Marcus Smart had a great game offensively with 18 points on 5-10 shooting including 4-8 from three-point range. Tatum and Morris also had average nights offensively with 17 points each. Morris had his 17 on 7-13 shooting and 6 rebounds. Tatum meanwhile was not as efficient with his 17 points as he was just 4-11 shooting with 4 rebounds. The killer for the Celtics offense though was the lack of bench production. Gordon Hayward led the bench with just 6 points, Rozier had 4 points on a struggling 1-8 from the floor, and Brown and Theis each had 2 points and were a combined 2-9 from the floor. The bench struggles also rubbed off on Al Horford as he had just 2 points on 1-8 shooting (Basketball-Reference.com). These shooting woes allowed the Heat to jump out to an 18 point half time lead that was capped off by a Derrick Jones Jr buzzer beater to end the half.
Meanwhile, while the Celtics bench struggled the Heat bench was balling led by Miami legend Dwayne Wade who had 19 points on 8-12 shooting. Derrick Jones Jr also did a little more than just hit the buzzer beater as he finished with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Tyler Johnson even put up 11 points in just 15 minutes of action. The Heat also had some good performances from their starters led by newly appointed point guard Justice Winslow who had 13 points, 11 assists and 7 rebounds. Josh Richardson led the starters scoring wise with 18 points on 7-13 shooting with 6 assists. James Johnson even went for 12 points (Basketball-Reference.com).
The Celtics did battle back in the third to cut the lead to 11 to start the fourth quarter but the Heat were just too much for the Celtics as they pulled away late to win by a score of 115-99. This kind of loss after a great homestand sucks but is somewhat forgivable being the second game of a back to back. Overall, as a team, the Celtics just did not have the shooting touch from tonight as they shot 40% from the floor and 35% from three-point range. This combined with the Heat outrebounding the Celtics 51-37 was just a recipe for disaster (Bsketball-Reference.com).
This loss does hurt just because of how dominate they were the night before against a much better Pacers team but again any game that is the second part of a back to back is always tough to win especially on the road. Up next the Celtics will stay in the state of Florida and take on the Magic on Saturday night. The Celts currently sit at 25-16 and 5 games out in the east for first place and could use a win against a struggling Magic team to get this road trip back on track. This loss to Miami was tough but understandable on some levels but with a day off in between games, there are no excuses in Orlando. Also, a big story of tonight was Morris and Jaylen getting into a shoving match on the bench during a time out. This incident I believe was a little more than just in-game frustrations that everyone says they are. Did the in-game frustrations contribute to the outburst, probably, but normally having one frustrating game does not lead to a player almost fighting another during a time out. There is definitely a little more behind that outburst but we will obviously never hear what it is. Let’s hope the Celtics can just put this frustrating loss behind them and move onto Orlando.
Plus, don’t forget to keep voting for all your favorite Celtics for this year’s All-Star game. Hit the link below and vote to try and send all your favorite Celtics players to Charlotte for the 2019 All-Star festivities.