NBA

Celtics 'set the table' in hard-fought win over the Heat, says Mazzulla

By Sports Desk February 12, 2024

Joe Mazzulla was proud of the Boston Celtics' "late-game execution" in Sunday's 110-106 win over the Miami Heat.

The Celtics had to withstand a late push from the Heat as they held on to win a fourth straight game.

Boston, who beat the Heat by 33 points on the road in January, lead the NBA with a 41-12 record. Miami, meanwhile, are eighth in the Eastern Conference.

And though the Celtics ultimately had to defend late on, they have now won all three meetings with the Heat this season, with their sole loss coming in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals last season.

"Late-game execution, you've got to set the table," Mazzulla said of his team's display. "I think our guys did that.

"Just the intensity. Just the physicality. I enjoy watching physicality with poise, and I thought our guys had that throughout tonight. You obviously need to rise to the occasion."

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 26 points, nine assists and 10 rebounds, Kristaps Porzingis finished with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Jaylen Brown added 20 points and nine rebounds.

"Today was fun, we have a lot of history with this team," Tatum said.

"Last time we came here we smacked them, so we knew it would be a closer game.

"They came to play and we enjoy being part of games like that. Everybody's being competitive."

Bam Adebayo scored 22 points for the Heat, who were without Jimmy Buttler after he was granted leave following the death of a family member.

"It's tough to see guys like that go down," said Duncan Robinson, who finished with 15 points. 

"And then Jimmy dealing with what he's dealing with is unfortunate, to put it lightly."

The Heat have won four of their last six games, and Erik Spoelstra put this defeat down to many factors going against them.

"I thought our group showed a tremendous amount of grit in that second half," Spoelstra said.

"There were a lot of things that weren't necessarily going our way, including the injuries. To really fight and claw back and get this game on the ropes, it's a credit to how hard guys were playing."

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