The Eastern Conference Finals Game 1 began in the manner that a skeptical of the Miami Heat would have expected. In the first half, the Celtics took on Miami by mucking up a halfcourt offense and attacking the gaps in a defense that had stifled its opponents through the first two rounds.
They converted stops into transition buckets and used multiple creators to generate open shot opportunities, forcing Miami’s inefficient playmakers to make inefficient offense off of the dribble. As Warriors slow Luka, mmy Butler assumes the role of.
Boston looked tired after a seven-game series against the NBA champions and seemed to have played its hardest series yet, while the Heat were still learning how it feels to face a legitimate contender for the championship.
How Jimmy changed the game
The Celtics were able to score as many goals as they wanted, while the Heat struggled for air. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Miami started the game defensively. They “gapping off” shooters one pass away in order to keep them near the foul line.
This strategy was flawed not in its conception but in execution. Miami was heavily biased toward drives, but didn’t actually remove them.
This took away both the drive and the kickout. Tatum attacked the defense with his speed, destroying them off the catch and dribble to get at the rim and finding open teammates.
Tatum was even attempted to trap the Heat in the pick-and roll, but Tatum’s improved passing skills effectively eliminated that option. Other times, Miami would overhelp in non-threatening situations and fail to rotate behind play when teammates push out on the perimeter.
In a flash, the Heat were back on their feet. The Heat dominated Boston with a score of 39-14 in the third quarter. The Celtics could not regain control of the rope. Boston shot 3-of-12 in the restricted area after parading to it in the first half.
While that protection cost 20 Celtic 3-point attempts (and a total of just three of 12 in the second), most of those looks were either off the dribble, or by relatively limited shooters.
The Heat were able to get stops on defense, which allowed them to make Boston work for buckets. They made quick and sound decisions on offense, attacking defense gaps and moving possessions until they had an advantage.
After Tatum had dominated the first 24 mins, Jimmy Butler was the most dominant player on the floor. A pair of steals by Butler out of Boston’s timeout, which punctuated a 22-2 run, was the highlight of that shift.
Tatum had expected Butler to be in the pick-and roll gap, so Butler made a jump pass to Brown on Brown’s left wing to get a layup. On the other end, Butler immediately stole a pass to Robert Williams to make the Heat the largest lead of the game.