A lineup adjustment propelled the Boston Celtics to a convincing victory over the Miami Heat in Game 2 of their Easton Conference Finals, and landed the Celtics in a tie with the Heat at one game a piece.
Boston flipped Grant Williams and Robert Williams, after the Heat exploited Robert’s defense in space during the first few minutes of Game 2. Miami capitalized with three fast three pointers and a number of second chance opportunities, which led to Boston making a switch at around the 5 minute mark to bring in Grant.
That moved flipped the game.
The Celtics would end up going on a 57-27 run while Williams stayed on the court during the final 17 minutes of the first half and the Celtics evened the series with the Heat with a profound 127-102 victory in Miami.
“He just [has come] a long way from his first year,” Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said, according to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps. “He’s worked on his game, and he’s developed into somebody that we believe and trust in to catch it at half court.
“He sees an opening, takes it to the hole, makes the right play. That’s what he did.”
“They came out and hit us in the mouth, and we didn’t know how to respond,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said.
Celtics head coach Ime Udoka talked about the game-changing lineup tweak.
“Spaced the floor well,” Udoka said. “We got to attack some matchups that we wanted to and space out Adebayo and [P.J.] Tucker and some of those guys. Obviously with Rob in there, he has his things that he does well but he has some limitations as well as far as spacing the court.
“We saw success against Milwaukee and Brooklyn doing that with Al and Grant lineups where they can space it out and we can attack multiple ways. So [it created] a lot of open shots, a lot of open 3s and he got going, but also opened up the lanes for our drivers.”
The Celtics were also fueled by the play of Jayson Tatum, who chipped in 27 points, and Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who had his own epic performance.
“[I take] a lot of pride,” Smart said of his performance in the point guard role. “That’s what I’ve been doing my whole career. That’s what I got drafted here to do. I just waited my turn. I’m blessed to be in the situation I am to have the opportunity to go out and show what I can do, and I think everybody in the organization, in the world, is seeing what I can do at that point guard position.”
“They tried to embarrass us,” Heat star Jimmy Butler said. “They did embarrass us. So I think we got to realize that — use it as fuel, whatever you want to say — but realize that the game can get out of hand whenever you’re playing against a really good team like them, that can score the ball and get stops.
“We got a tough job to do to go over there and win. But if they did it, we can do it as well.”