Jayson Tatum never doubted himself after a poor Game 3 performance, returning to a starring role as the Boston Celtics dominated the Miami Heat 102-82 in Game 4.

The Celtics had their backs to the wall in the latest tussle of the Eastern Conference Finals, with the threat of heading back to Miami for Game 5 trailing 3-1, but they made sure it was not a nervous night for the Boston faithful.

Derrick White – returning to the starting line-up after the birth of his son – started in place of the injured Marcus Smart and scored the first seven points, kick-starting a 26-4 run to open the game.

The Celtics defense proved to be immense, holding the visitors to just 42 points with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Eleven first-quarter points also set a new record for the Heat's worst offensive first quarter in any playoff game in their history.

After only scoring 10 points in Game 3, Tatum responded in fine fashion, racking up a team-high 31 points on eight-of-16 shooting, hitting 14-of-16 free throws, while adding eight rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

Speaking later, Tatum highlighted the confidence he has in his ability, despite how dark things can get immediately following a painful loss.

"Right after it's tough," he said. "You're frustrated with how you played, knowing how important this time of year is, and feeling like you let your team-mates down.

"But I think I do a really good job of sleeping it off – regardless of if I have 10 points or 46 points – the next day is the next day, and whatever happened, happened.

"Obviously I was ready to get back to playing, but I didn't doubt myself – I know how to play basketball.

"Regardless of how many points I score, [it's about] just trying to come out and help us get a win. That's most important."

With the series now tied at 2-2, Tatum called it "a new series", but he stressed his side need to bring the same intensity after a win, as opposed to just after crushing losses.

"It's 2-2 – it's kind of like a new series, a best-of-three," Tatum said.

"Human nature plays a part in [the swings in the series]. When you win a game, you can relax a little bit, but obviously when we lose a game, we feel like the next game is do-or-die, and then we come out and play how we did.

"We need to have that mindset going into Game 5 – it is a must-win game – and tonight was essentially something like that. Everybody knew it, we could all feel it, and I think it showed with the way we came out."

When asked if he enjoyed sitting out the fourth quarter after clocking 117 minutes across the first three games of the series, Tatum said: "It was extremely nice – especially because we were winning."

Celtics coach Ime Udoka made sure to highlight the efforts of White after he finished with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.

"He checks so many boxes for us, it's not only things that show up on the stat sheet," Udoka said.

"He's the guy that moves the ball very well, defends extremely well, multiple positions… I couldn't be more happy with him being here, and what he brings to this team."

Udoka touched on what it will take to come out on top in this series, echoing Tatum's sentiments about bringing the same intensity after a win.

"Our mindset was right coming out, we came out with the right physicality and focus," he said. "We've just got to muster that same energy when we're coming off a win, as well as a loss.

"It wasn't our best offensive night, but defensively, obviously we were elite tonight, for the most part.

"We've got room to grow still, that's the thing with us, and we can always rely on our defense. We've won several games doing that this year when our shots aren't falling.

"To hold them in the 30s for basically three quarters, it's high-level defense.

"We can do that even if our shots are not falling, it's mainly about taking care of the ball, not letting them get anything easy, and kind of wearing on them mentally."

After Game 5 in Miami, Game 6 will head back to Boston, with a potential Game 7 to be played in Miami, if required.

The Boston Celtics smothered the Miami Heat all night on the way to a 102-82 victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

With the win, the Celtics evened the series at 2-2, and are still yet to lose back-to-back games this postseason. 

It all started on the defensive end for Boston, playing in front of their raucous home fans, as the Heat missed their first 14 field goal attempts.

The Celtics led 29-11 at quarter time – after leading 26-4 at one stage – marking the fewest first-quarter points ever scored by a Heat team in the playoffs. They shot three-for-20 from the field.

Victor Oladipo tried to ignite the Heat off the bench, scoring 18 of their first 28 points, but it was a historically bad showing from Miami's starting line-up, made even worse by the fact Sixth Man of the Year Tyler Herro was out injured.

With three minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Heat trailed 73-42, leading to their starters getting benched for the final frame. Their five starters combined to score 18 points and shoot seven-for-38 (18 per cent) from the field.

For Boston, Jayson Tatum was terrific, scoring 24 of his 31 points in the first half, finishing up with shooting figures of eight-of-16 from the field and 14-of-16 from the free throw line.

The big-man combination of Al Horford and Robert Williams III was also game-changing, as the duo combined for 22 rebounds and six blocks, while Derrick White also shined in his first game since becoming a father.

White missed Game 3 for the birth of his child, and after scoring no more than nine points since Game 4 of the Celtics series against the Milwaukee Bucks, he had 10 points in the first quarter as he started in the place of the injured Marcus Smart.

He went on to finish with 13 points, eight rebounds, six assists, three steals and a blocked shot.

Game 5 will head back to Miami with plenty on the line. Throughout NBA history, when a series has been tied 2-2, the winner of Game 5 goes on to win the series 82 per cent of the time – although the Celtics bucked that trend last round.

Tyler Herro will miss Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, but the Miami Heat are hopeful Jimmy Butler will face the Boston Celtics on Monday.

Herro sustained a groin injury during the Heat's 109-103 Game 3 win and will play no part as Miami attempt to take a 3-1 lead at TD Garden.

Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said: "We just had to be responsible and take the decision out of his hands.

"He really wants to be out there tonight. The trainers and Dr. [Harlan] Selesnick don't think that's the best idea just because of the intensity and everything, but we'll see.

"He's young, we'll treat him day-to-day, and we'll see what happens from here."

Butler has been suffering with inflammation of his left knee, but will warm up with the intention of playing in Game 4.

Spoelstra is also hoping Kyle Lowry (left hamstring strain), Max Strus (right hamstring strain), P.J. Tucker (left knee irritation) and Gabe Vincent (left hamstring strain) will feature.

Celtic trio Jayson Tatum (stinger), Marcus Smart (sprained ankle) and Robert Williams III are listed as probable.

Luka Doncic said he is "still learning", with his 40-point haul not enough to prevent the Dallas Mavericks from going 3-0 down in the Western Conference Finals series to the Golden State Warriors.

The 109-100 defeat in American Airlines Center means the Mavs have the unlikely task of needing to win the next four games in a row to make the NBA finals.

Doncic top scored in the game, while also making 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks, but felt he did not play well enough in the first half.

Spencer Dinwiddie (26) and Jalen Brunson (20) offered assistance but the hosts just could not keep up with the Warriors, with Stephen Curry coming away with 31 points and 11 assists.

"I'm still learning," Doncic said after the game. "I think the first two quarters, I played very bad. That's on me. But I'm still learning. I think after this season is done, whatever we are, I think we're going to look back and learn a lot of things.

"It's my first time in the Conference Finals in the NBA. I'm 23, man. I'm still learning a lot."

Despite Doncic's concerns about the first two quarters, it was the third where the game got away from Dallas, with the Warriors extending their half-time lead of one point to 10 points by the start of the fourth quarter.

However, the Slovenian praised the Warriors for their form and credited their development as a team over recent years.

"I think the Warriors are playing incredible," he added. "Everybody knows their role. Everybody just stays together.

"They're a long-built team. They've been together for a long time, and I think they're playing good basketball, so that's what I think is going to be really difficult. And these past three games, it's been very difficult."

Mavs head coach Jason Kidd offered similar thoughts, and insisted his team are just at the start of their "journey".

"This is just the beginning of this journey," Kidd said. "I know you guys had us winning the championship before the season started, and that's a joke if you didn't get it. But this is a lot bigger than just this one game or this one series. This is huge for our franchise because none of you guys had us here.

"So it's cool to go through this, and we're going against... you can call them a dynasty. They have three great players who will be hall of famers, and this is a great lesson learned from us.

"This isn't the end. This is just the beginning."

Stephen Curry avoided injury late in the first half of the Golden State Warriors' 109-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday after he tripped over a vendor at court-side.

Curry fell over the unsuspecting man serving drinks in the final seconds before the main interval as he scrambled to close out on a Reggie Bullock three-point attempt.

With his extensive history of ankle injuries, the former unanimous MVP was visibly frustrated with the accident, but went on to score 31 points as the Warriors took a 3-0 series lead over the Mavs.

Curry's frustration was not directed at the vendor however, which he clarified post-game.

"Yeah, man, there's like 30 seconds left before half-time, you're ordering a drink," Curry said after the game. "Just wait until half-time. I don't know why they needed to deliver it right then, but thankfully I was alright.

"He [the vendor] was doing his job, so hopefully he got a big tip."

Curry shot an even 50 per cent on his way to those 31 points, while adding 11 assists and five rebounds in the win.

Rebounds were big for the Warriors, especially on the offensive glass, with Kevon Looney and Andrew Wiggins combining for 10 while the Mavs grabbed seven as a team.

Looney had only seen over 20 minutes twice over the two series against Denver and Memphis, but following his double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds in Game 2, pitched in with nine points, 12 rebounds and four assists on Sunday.

Curry singled out Looney for praise following the game, highlighting him as a reflection of the team's identity. 

"It's a testament to how things change in the playoffs, from series to series and even within that from game to game, where you've got to have everybody stay ready," he said.

"Loon comes in Game 6 [against Memphis] and makes a huge difference, has a career night rebounding the ball. In this series, he's had career nights and had an amazing impact.

"It's how we do things, with everybody being a part or being a factor at some point, but it's how the playoffs go. You just love to see a guy get rewarded for staying ready."

The Golden State Warriors moved a step closer to a sixth NBA Finals appearance since 2015 with a 109-100 win over the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday, taking a 3-0 series lead.

After shooting six-of-10 from beyond the arc in Game 2, Stephen Curry was again in fine shooting touch as the series moved to Dallas, scoring 31 points on 10-of-20 shooting.

The former unanimous MVP tripped over a vendor early in the first half, but went on to overtake Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki for career 30-point playoff games while also shooting an even 50 per cent from the perimeter, adding 11 assists and five rebounds.

The Warriors found the right balance and took care of the basketball while still assertively moving it, with only 10 turnovers and 28 assists off 38 made field goals for the game.

Five Warriors scored in double figures in the Game 3 win while the team finished with a 12-point margin for points in the paint (46-34).

It counteracted their relatively disappointing shooting performance on the night, along with a big rebounding night from the team, doubling the Mavericks in offensive rebounds (14-7) for the game.

Andrew Wiggins was critical in that respect, grabbing six offensive rebounds of his own for 11 total rebounds, along with 27 points and three assists.

The Mavs could not get anything going in the half-court and generate good attempts from the perimeter despite a high volume on home court, going 13-of-44 as a team.

Luka Doncic put up 40 points on 11-of-23 shooting along with 11 rebounds but the Warriors worked to restrict the Mavs' shooters, with Reggie Bullock and Maxi Kleber shooting a combined zero-of-12 from beyond the arc.

 

 

Jimmy Butler will not require an MRI scan after leaving Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals with knee inflammation, said Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who praised Bam Adebayo for "stabilising" the team in his absence in a 109-103 win over the Boston Celtics.

Butler played 19 minutes in the first half but did not emerge from the locker room for the second at TD Garden.

Yet the Heat were still able to claim a 2-1 lead in the series, a rematch of the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals in the NBA Bubble, thanks predominantly to Adebayo.

Adebayo went 15 for 22 from the field as he scored 31 points and added 10 rebounds.

He also had six assists and four steals. The Heat's 19 steals marked a franchise postseason record and the most for any team in a playoff game since 2015.

Having produced 32 and 27-point games against the Celtics in the bubble, Adebayo's three-highest scoring playoff performances have now all come versus Boston.

"He did his version of what Jimmy does in terms of 'do what's necessary for the game,'" Spoelstra told a media conference of Adebayo, who finished plus-17 in the plus-minus.

"He was extremely assertive, it happened in a lot of moments that were fully in the context of how we want to play. He was just way more assertive on the catch and those moments in between. 

"It wasn't just the scoring, that's what everybody is going to recognise but he did so many things in terms of getting us organised, facilitating, playing point guard for us at times, running offense in the post through him and then defending as he always does one through five against a team that presents a lot of challenges.

"He's a winning player. He really is the heart and soul of our group, you can count on him all the time, he doesn't get caught up in all the noise, he's just out there competing, playing winning basketball, doing it on both ends and doing what is necessary.

"When Jimmy was out in the second half he just stabilised us. It got a little bit gnarly out there and when it did we were able to get the ball to Bam and just get something coherent."

The Miami Heat warded off a gritty fightback from the Boston Celtics to win 109-103 on Saturday, reclaiming home-court advantage and taking out Game 3 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Celtics were down by 26 points in the first half and clawed their way back to make it a one-possession game down the stretch, but clutch baskets from Max Strus and Bam Adebayo were able to halt momentum.

Erik Spoelstra's side eventually saw the game out from the free-throw line.

With Jimmy Butler and Tyler Herro off injured in the second half, Adebayo finished with 31 points on 15-of-22 shooting, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals in a big performance.

Jaylen Brown led the late charge for the Celtics, scoring a game-high 40 points off 14-of-20 shooting from the floor, but turnovers were critical as the team failed to take care of the ball.

Brown was responsible for seven of his own while Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart combined for 10 with the Celtics committing 23 turnovers.

Boston shot 37.5 per cent from three-point range but following a 39-14 first quarter, were facing an uphill battle.

The Heat scored 33 points off those turnovers in contrast to Boston's nine points, with double-digit margins for points in the paint (48-34) and bench points (26-16).

Butler came up with eight points and three rebounds as well as two assists and steals, but knee inflammation saw him miss the second half. 

Kyle Lowry's return to the floor was pivotal for the Heat, however, finishing with 11 points, six assists and four steals.

Dallas Mavericks coach Jason Kidd was left frustrated by his side's shot selection as they went 2-0 down to the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Despite a strong lead after the second quarter thanks to a best-in-show Luka Doncic, who posted 42, the visitors were pegged back for a second consecutive loss at Chase Center.

The Mavs blew several chances to keep daylight between themselves and their hosts in the third quarter, but an over-reliance on attempts to bags 3s left them to suffer.

"When you go 2-for-13 and you rely on the 3, you can die by the 3," Kidd said. "And we died in the third quarter by shooting that many 3s and coming up with only two.

"If you make [3s], that's great, but you just have to understand, if you miss four in a row, you can't take the fifth.

"You've got to make it. That just puts too much stress on yourself and on your team because, if you're not getting stops on the other end, it turns into a blowout."

The Mavs face a tough road back into contention, but will take consolation from the fact a 2-0 deficit is far from insurmountable, having been knocked out by the Clippers last season with a similar advantage after two games.

They also boast Doncic, one of the best form players in the NBA right now, and the Slovenian admitted his side could have put more in.

"We weren't attacking the paint that much," he added. "But we got to attack the paint more, like they did. They attacked the paint a lot.

"They have two of the best shooters in the world, and they still attack the paint. So I think we've got to rely less on the 3."

Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry feels his side has become a well-oiled machine over the course of the season, but admitted sometimes there is nothing you can do about Luka Doncic's brilliance.

The Warriors came back from 53-34 down with seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, holding the Dallas Mavericks to 13 points in the third period, before winning the last frame 43-32 to run over the top late.

Curry top-scored for the Warriors with 32 points on 11-of-21 shooting, while Jordan Poole was terrific off the bench with 23 on seven-of-10 shooting, including 12 in the fourth quarter.

Despite the loss, Doncic scored a game-high 42 points on 12-of-23 shooting, while also dishing a game-high eight assists.

During Curry's post-game media appearance, he said he feels like the Warriors have figured a lot out defensively over the course of the season, but players like Doncic are simply "nice like that".

"[Chemistry] is something that's been slowly building over the course of the regular season," he said. 

"It didn't always show on the court, but the roles, and how we play on both ends of the floor, everybody is comfortable with what they're being asked to do.

"Even [Wiggins] – he has a tough challenge of chasing Luka pretty much everywhere, every time he's out there on the floor. 

"He understands he's going to get scored on – because Luka is nice like that – but over the course of 48 minutes you figure out how to wear him down a little bit, and go back at him on the offensive end."

He went on to say he does not think about the Mavericks' lack of playoff experience, with the Warriors instead focusing on imposing their will.

"It's not [Dallas' lack of experience] – it's just the supreme confidence in what we do," he said.

"You don't really know what they're talking about in the huddle, you don't feel what's going through their mind, it's just you imposing your will.

"For us, the experience, and the chemistry – obviously this group is a bit different – but we have that attitude and spirit that we feel we're never out of it. I think only one game in this playoff run we've been severely outmatched from start-to-finish.

"That belief then turns into execution in the game, and you can feel the momentum. It's more focused on what we do, and when you have the opportunity to stick in the dagger, or come up with three stops in a row, those are the times when you feel that good energy."

Curry also touched on the Mavs' hot start, which saw them put up 72 points in the first half, and how the Warriors can make large deficits disappear in a hurry.

"We knew they were going to come out aggressive, and making shots," he said. 

"We didn't think they were going to be that hot – it seemed like no matter what we did they always found the right guy, and they had no hesitation to shoot it.

"They had 15 threes in the first half – it felt like a lot – but all of a sudden you look at the scoreboard and we got it down to two at one point, and then it ballooned out to 14.

"14, for us, is more than manageable if we come out and influence the game, starting on the defensive end.

"When you can limit a team like that to 13 points [in a quarter] – it wasn't like a flurry, but it seemed like we regained the momentum, and slowly, and methodically walked them down.

"The first six minutes of the fourth quarter was kind of the real momentum shift – it gave the crowd some life, and gave us some life, and allowed us to run away with the win."

Game 3 and Game 4 will head to Dallas, and if the Warriors can win just one, they will head back to Golden State for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

The Golden State Warriors produced a spectacular comeback in front of their home fans to defeat the Dallas Mavericks 126-117 and take a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

It appeared early that the Mavericks would be the ones heading back to Dallas for Game 3 and Game 4 with momentum, as Luka Doncic had 24 first-half points to help his side to a 72-58 half-time lead.

But the Warriors went up a level defensively in the third period, holding the Mavericks to just 13 points as they chipped away at the margin, which peaked at 53-34 with seven minutes to play in the second frame.

While the third quarter was a defensive struggle, allowing the Warriors to pull the margin back to two points, the fourth was an offensive explosion as the two teams combined for 75 points.

Ultimately, the Mavericks could not keep up as the Warriors piled on 43 points in the term, including 12 of Jordan Poole's 23 off the bench (seven-of-10 shooting), and 10 of Stephen Curry's 32 (11-of-21 from the field, six-of-10 from long range).

Warriors center Kevon Looney was also a difference-maker, scoring 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting and grabbing 12 rebounds, while Andrew Wiggins had 16 points (five-of-14 shooting) and Klay Thompson had 15 (six-of-10).

For the Mavericks, Doncic finished with a game-high 42 points on 12-of-23 shooting, as well as game-highs in assists (eight) and steals (three).

He was supported strongly by Jalen Brunson, who had 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting, and Reggie Bullock, who shot six-of-10 from three-point range for his 21 points.

Game 3 and Game 4 will be nearly must-wins for the Mavericks, because if they lose just one of the two, the Warriors will head home for Game 5 with a 3-1 lead.

The NBA All-Defensive teams were released on Friday, headlined by Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY) Marcus Smart and reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the First Team.

Joining that pair on the First Team is Phoenix Suns wing and DPOY runner-up Mikal Bridges, the Utah Jazz's three-time DPOY-winning center Rudy Gobert, and the Memphis Grizzlies' league-leading shot-blocker Jaren Jackson Jr.

It is Gobert's sixth consecutive First Team appearance, and Antetokounmpo's fourth consecutive, while also having one Second Team selection in 2017.

Marcus Smart now has three First Team selections after making it in 2019 and 2020, and it was the first of what will likely be numerous defensive honours for both Bridges, aged 25, and Jackson, 22.

The Second Team is made up of Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo, Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green, Boston Celtics big-man Robert Williams III, Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday and Philadelphia 76ers defensive specialist Matisse Thybulle.

It is Green's seventh All-Defensive honour since 2015, with four First Teams (2015, 2016, 2017 and 2021) and now three Second Teams (2018, 2019 and now 2022). 

For Holiday, it is his fourth All-Defensive selection overall, with First Teams in 2018 and 2021, and another Second Team in 2019.

Adebayo has now made the Second Team for three consecutive years, and is yet to break into the First Team, while Thybulle made his second straight Second Team, and it was Williams' first award after being drafted in 2018, 23 selections after Memphis' Jackson.

Jimmy Butler said the Boston Celtics "whipped our tail on our home floor" in their 127-102 beatdown of the Miami Heat in Game 2.

The return of Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart from a foot injury ignited the Celtics on the offensive end just as much as defensively, with the team hitting a red-hot 20-of-40 from three-point range.

Boston's five that played at least 30 minutes – Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Grant Williams, Al Horford and Smart – shot 17-of-29 from long-range, and combined for 23 assists, which was two more than Miami had as a team.

Speaking to post-game media, Butler said the Celtics "tried to embarrass us", but pointed out that they were always going to be facing an uphill battle against such an outlier shooting performance.

"You do have to move on, but I don't like to move on from this. It has to hurt," he said.

"They tried to embarrass us – they did embarrass us. I think we got to realise that, or use it as fuel, but realise that the game can get out of hand when you're playing against a really good team like them that can score the ball and get stops.

"They made shots that they missed last game. That's just what it is.

"It's going to be hard to beat anybody when they shoot 50 per cent from the field and 50 per cent from three. They were the more physical team overall, and they got one on the road.

"Overall, we just have to be better. We've got a tough job to do to go over there and win, but if they did it, we can do it as well."

He added: "I look at it as 'it can't get too much worse'. They whipped our tail on our home floor.

"I guess if they do it on their home floor it's supposed to happen, but I don't see us doing that again. 

"The first half has been brutal for us in both of these games, we just got to come out and play harder from the jump and be ready, because they be throwing some haymakers in the first half."

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he did not feel like his side played poorly – but that it felt like the Celtics wanted revenge for Game 1.

"You definitely have to credit Boston," he said. "It's not just that they came in with great urgency and physicality – they did have that, for sure – they also played well. They played really well on both ends.

"We know what they're capable of defensively – they've done this to some very good offenses. I'm sure they were not happy with us putting up 118 in Game 1, and they came out very disruptive. 

"They got us out of our normal rhythm and flow, and the shot-making on the other end was very tough to overcome.

"You get to this point – in the Conference Finals – you just have very good teams. Teams without many weaknesses, it's great competition.

"This only counts as one, and that's what the experiences players and staff in the locker room understand. We don't like it, but they played extremely well."

Boston Celtics coach Ime Udoka believes his side responded well to being "punked" by the Miami Heat, claiming a 127-102 win in Game 2 of their playoff series on Thursday.

A 39-14 third quarter in the Heat's favour effectively decided Game 1 as the Celtics collapsed on the road, but bounced back, cutting down turnovers and putting four quarters together to split the first two games in Miami.

Marcus Smart and Al Horford's returns to the line-up were critical for the Celtics as they claimed home-court advantage against the Eastern Conference's first seed, but it was a collective effort with 28 assists off 43 made field goals.

Udoka praised his side's mental toughness in responding against a side that came at them in the opening game of the series.

"I think we were upset with how that third quarter went, specifically how we got out-toughed," Udoka said post-match. "Wasn't a lot of schemes or defensive or offensive changes, they just came at us and kind of punked us in that third quarter.

"We looked the other three quarters and how well we had done in winning those quarters, and knew if we just matched their physicality, we could be better. It kind of reminded us of Milwaukee a little bit – the first game – and didn't want to get caught off-guard again.

"I think our guys have bounced back really well all year, especially the second half of the year. Haven't lost two games in a row in a while, and obviously having Marcus and Al back gave us a little boost as well."

Smart was an important figure in his return from a foot injury, filling the stats sheet and finishing with 24 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds and three steals.

Horford provided a little bit of everything meanwhile, ending the game with 10 points, three assists and rebounds as well as a steal and a block.

Udoka commended the returning duo, allowing the team to capitalise on positive aspects from the first game.

"It was great to have the vets back, obviously," he said. "A calming presence there. We didn't get off to our best start, we were a little slow to start but we fought right back into it.

"After, I guess, the first five or six minutes we held them down scoring-wise, but it was a good overall effort. I felt we didn't play as poorly as the last game showed.

"Like I said, we won three quarters and had a very bad third quarter, it was hard to overcome but we saw a lot of positives and areas we could attack."

The Boston Celtics rebounded from a disappointing Game 1 to thrash the Miami Heat 127-102 in Game 2 on Thursday.

With the win, the Celtics have tied the series at 1-1 and snatched home-court advantage, with Game 3 and Game 4 to take place in Boston.

In arguably their best half of the season, the Celtics were nearly flawless to open the game, shooting nine-of-11 from three-point range in the first quarter on the way to putting up two consecutive 35-point frames, leading 70-45 at half-time.

The Heat threatened to make things interesting in the third period as Jimmy Butler piled on 16 of his game-high 29 points but the Celtics had an answer every time, shooting 20-of-40 from three for the contest, including 17-of-29 from the five Boston players to play more than 30 minutes each.

Jayson Tatum finished with a team-high 27 points on eight-of-13 shooting with five rebounds and five assists, while Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart had 24 on eight-of-22 shooting with nine rebounds, 12 assists and three steals.

Jaylen Brown chipped in an efficient 24 points on nine-of-17 shooting, and Grant Williams was excellent once again for the Celtics with 19 points off the bench, shooting five-of-seven from the field, and was +37 in plus/minus over his 32 minutes. Only Payton Pritchard finished with a higher plus/minus, finishing plus +39 in his 23 minutes, scoring 10 points with two assists in Derrick White's absence.

After dominating the 2020 Eastern Conference Finals against the Celtics, averaging over 20 points per game on 60 per cent shooting, Bam Adebayo had his second straight disappointing showing. After posting 10 points and four rebounds in Game 1, he followed it up with just six points and nine rebounds. 

Adebayo is averaging 14 points and seven rebounds in the playoffs thus far, significantly down from his season averages of 19 points and 10 rebounds.

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