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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

NBA playoffs: Heat even series vs. Celtics with franchise record in 3-pointers, Thunder dominate Pelicans

Powered by a franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers, the Miami Heat tied their first-round Eastern Conference series with the Boston Celtics with a 111-101 victory Wednesday night.

Following a tight first half, the Heat in the third quarter outscored the Celtics 27-18 to retake the lead. It was an advantage they would not surrender to even the series at 1-1.

The New Orleans Pelicans weren’t so fortunate. After barely losing in a Game 1 thriller, they got steamrolled by the Oklahoma City Thunder in a 124-92 loss to fall behind 2-0. The Thunder were up double-digits by the end of the first quarter and never wavered.

Both series will see Game 3 on Saturday night, with the Thunder looking to take an even bigger advantage at 3:30 ET in New Orleans and the Celtics looking to take back control at 6 p.m. ET in Miami.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said earlier Wednesday that they would make a concerted effort to lower the Celtics’ 3-point attempts and increase theirs for Game 2. The approached worked in Miami’s favor.

The Celtics used 3-pointers to their advantage in Game 1, going 22-for-49 from distance. Game 2 was a different story as they went 12-for-32. Miami, meanwhile, shot away, going 23-for-43 from behind the 3-point line.

Miami’s 23 3-pointers were two shy of the NBA playoff record and broke its previous franchise mark of 20, which was set during the 2021 playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Tyler Herro shot 6-for-11 from distance, while Caleb Martin chipped in five 3-pointers in six attempts.

Herro, who was held to 11 points in 34 minutes on Sunday, found better success in Game 2 by dropping 24 points. He was backed up by 21 points each from Martin and Bam Adebayo. Nikola Jovic was impactful at both ends of the court with 11 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

Herro also led all players with 14 assists on the night.

Jaylen Brown (33 points, 8 rebounds) and Jayson Tatum (28 points, 8 rebounds) did what they could, but Miami‘s offense was much more balanced. The Celtics’ bench could not influence the game enough as they were outscored by the Heat’s subs 20-12.

Already without Jimmy Butler (MCL) and Terry Rozier (neck), the Heat head home with the series knotted at one and coming off a game where their shooting fortunes turned around.

Things got too close for comfort for the Thunder in their 94-92 Game 1 win. They avoided a repeat and then some in Game 2.

All five OKC starters scored in double figures, led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with 33 points on 13-of-19 shooting with five assists and three rebounds. Chet Holmgren (26 points on 9-of-13 shooting) in particular stood out with an early shooting streak and then some authoritative plays as the game got out of hand.

The Pelicans have been playing highly significant games over the past few weeks between jockeying for a playoff spot at the end of the regular season, playing both play-in games then flying to Oklahoma to face the West’s top seed. If they are fatigued, it certainly looked that way on Wednesday.

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