The Boston Celtics (47-29) hosted the Miami Heat (48-28) on Wednesday night. Boston hoped to right its wrongs from a loss to the Raptors on Monday. Miami intended to build upon its victory over the Kings on Monday. The Heat held the Celtics to just 15 points in the fourth quarter en route to an impressive 106-98 victory at TD Garden.
Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry combined to score 47 points on 17-for-33 shooting and commit just 3 turnovers.
Here are 3 observations from the close defeat.
Marcus Smart stayed outside the arc against an elite defense
10 of Smart’s 15 field goal attempts were three-point looks. He shot 3-for-15 from the field on Wednesday. Smart’s shot volume has largely come from beyond the arc this season. Miami, the 4th best defense in the NBA this season, allows the 8th fewest shots at the rim. Smart played right into what Miami wanted to do instead of trying to touch the paint as a facilitator.
Smart’s struggles didn’t stop there. He committed 6 turnovers on the night. The Celtics were minus-11 with him on the floor.
Fittingly, it was all wrapped up with a pretty bow when he was ejected in the final seconds of play.
Daniel Theis answered the call
Boston had something of an easy answer before Robert Williams III got hurt. Horford started as the power forward next to Williams, who was the center. Then, Horford would slide into the backup center role with Williams on the bench.
With Horford starting at center in Williams absence, Grant Williams slots up into the starting power forward role. That means that someone has to step up to relieve Horford.
It’s a stretch to say Brad Stevens traded for Theis in preparation for this scenario. But, the Celtics had an insurance policy in case of disaster. And Theis did his job on the offensive end on Wednesday.
The second-tour Celtic scored 15 points in 17 minutes, shooting 6-for-6 from the field. He even knocked out a corner triple, and executed a beautiful rim-run down the middle of the floor in transition.
The Strus is loose
Max Strus put the dagger in Boston’s coffin on the defensive end of the floor with 3 huge plays.
He stepped into congested driving lanes twice to create live-ball turnovers and get the Heat out in transition down the stretch.
And in the final minute of the game, Strus drew a crucial charging foul on Jayson Tatum on a drive to the rim in transition to effectively put the Celtics out of their misery.
The Celtics (47-30) will host the Indiana Pacers (25-52) on Friday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 PM, Eastern time. You can catch the action on NBC Sports Boston.
Source: Yahoo Sports