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Celtics crush Heat for 127-102 Game 2 win to pull even in Eastern Conference Finals

BOSTON -- There would be no collapse by the Celtics in Game 2. Boston absolutely pummeled the Heat on their home floor on Thursday night, tying the Eastern Conference Finals at a game apiece with a 127-102 win.

The Celtics got a lot of everything from everyone, with Jayson Tatum leading the way with 27 points, five assists and five rebounds. Jaylen Brown was just as strong, scoring 24 points to go with eight rebounds.

Marcus Smart was back to doing Marcus Smart things after missing Game 1 and flirted with a triple double, finishing with 24 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds in his 40 minutes of action. Al Horford was quiet offensively with 10 points off 4-for-4 shooting, but continued to play excellent defense for Boston.

All of that led to Boston building a 25-point edge by halftime and a 31-point lead early in the fourth quarter. The Celtics are now 4-0 this postseason following a loss.

"The sign of a good team is how you respond after losses, especially tough ones. It shows the character of the group," said Tatum, who only needed 13 shots to score his 27 points in the victory.

Thursday night was Miami's first home loss of the postseason.

The Heat jumped out in front early, hitting seven of their first 10 shots and four of five from downtown to build an 18-8 lead. But the Celtics answered with authority, closing out the first quarter on a 20-3 run. Boston scored 17 straight at one point as they shot 9-for-11 from downtown in the opening frame. It's the first time the Celtics have hit nine threes in the first quarter -- ever.

The Celtics took their first lead, 23-21, on a deep Payton Pritchard three. Brown assisted on that make and scored 11 of his own in the first quarter. Boston led 35-24 after the opening frame despite Tatum sitting for the final four minutes after he picked up his second foul.

Tatum was on the floor to start the second, and hit a three for the first basket of the quarter to keep the Boston barrage going. The Celtics' lead was up to 19 points, 47-28, after Pritchard drained another three off a feed from Tatum following a PJ Tucker turnover. Boston started the quarter on a 12-4 run, extending its run to close the first quarter into a 32-8 run over an eight-minute span.

The Celtics started 11-for-16 from downtown, and never really cooled off. They shot 20-for-40 from three for the game.

Boston's lead ballooned to 21, 54-33, when Pritchard pulled down a Tyler Herro missed three and fed it to Tatum for a loud dunk in transition. The Celtics just kept building on that lead, with a Tatum three-point play making it 59-35 with just over four minutes in the half. Tatum drained a contested three on Boston's next possession to make it a 25-point Celtics lead, 62-37.

The Celtics held a 70-45 lead at the half, which was the largest road halftime lead in the franchise's postseason history. Tatum and Brown combined for 35 points in the first half, going 12-for-17 from the floor and 6-for-8 from three. The duo was also responsible for six of Boston's 16 first-half assists, with Smart dishing out seven dimes in the first half.

The Celtics went up by as many as 29 in the third, but Jimmy Butler woke up in the quarter. He scored 16 in the frame, and a jumper with 3:08 left cut Boston's lead to 84-67. Butler finished with 29 points, but didn't score in the fourth quarter.

But after that Butler bucket, Smart stripped Bam Adebayo on a layup attempt and gave Max Strus a seat with a filthy crossover, finishing the play with a jumper to push the Celtics' lead back up to 19.

The lead was back up to 24 when Smart hit a three -- on a nice find by Tatum -- a few plays later. The Celtics withstood the Heat's best in the third and held their 25-point advantage, taking a 96-71 lead into the fourth quarter.

A Smart step-back three early in the fourth put Boston up by 30, 103-73. His fifth three-pointer of the night gave the Celtics a 112-81 lead with just over seven minutes to play. Both sides emptied their benches shortly after.

Smart scored 17 of his 24 points after halftime. The Celtics were once again excellent from downtown, and they were also nearly perfect at the charity stripe, going 21-for-23 at the free throw line.

The Celtics shook off a disappointing loss in Game 1, and with Smart and Horford back in the mix, absolutely throttled the Heat in Miami. The series now shifts to Boston tied at a game apiece, with Game 3 set for Saturday night at TD Garden.


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