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Jayson Tatum scores triple-double, 3s lead, Celtics beat Heat, 114-94, in opener

Jayson Tatum scores triple-double, 3s lead, Celtics beat Heat, 114-94, in opener

BOSTON (AP) — The Celtics spent the days leading up to their playoff matchup with Miami talking about their desire to match the physicality of a team looking for an edge with superstar Jimmy Butler.

Boston did that and then some.

Jayson Tatum had a triple-double in his first career playoff game with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists as Boston beat the Miami Heat 114-94 on Sunday in their first-round series opener.

Derrick White added 20 points and four assists for Boston, which finished with six players in double figures. The Celtics' lead increased to 34 points in the fourth quarter. Miami used a late drive to get as close as 14, but Boston shut it down.

“It's supposed to be tough. In the playoffs, there's no easy game,” Tatum said. There are no guaranteed wins regardless of the time, score, and how much time is left. … We just had to respond and we did.”

Miami spoiled the Celtics' NBA Finals dreams last season, taking a 3-0 lead in the conference finals and then knocking them out in Boston in Game 7.

But Boston fed off the energy of the TD Garden crowd on Sunday, tying a playoff record with 22 3 throws He outscored the Heat 31-14 in the third quarter.

“There was a four- or five-minute stretch where we didn't handle it well, but I think the other 42 to 43 minutes — that's the recipe,” Celtics coach Joe Mazzola said.

Including the regular season, Boston is 38-4 at home and has won its past four meetings with the Heat.

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Bam Adebayo scored 24 points for the Miami team, which played for the second consecutive game without its star, Butler, after he suffered an injury to his right knee during the round of play. Terry Rozier also remained out with a neck injury. Delon Wright added 17 points and made a career-high five 3s. Jaime Jaquez Jr. finished with 16 points. Tyler Herro scored 11 points, but shot just 4 of 13 from the field, including 2 of 9 from beyond the arc.

“Putting pressure and making things difficult, and not really letting me rest from the beginning,” Herro said. “It's one game. We'll leave it behind us and keep moving.”

The second game will be held on Wednesday in Boston.

Tensions flared in the final minute when Caleb Martin hacked Tatum on a rebound attempt and sent him to the ground hard. Brown then got in Martin's face, leading to a short rally and double technical fouls on Brown and Martin.

“It's a physical game against a physical team. (Things) are going to happen,” Tatum said. “This is probably not the last time I get hit like that or get fouled in this series. I wasn't hurt to be hit like that. Just get up. … Just go out there and knock down the free throws.

The Miami team was under pressure for most of the match, and was noticeably limited to only five offensive rebounds.

That set tone, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

“Boston controlled this game from the beginning,” he said. “They won the big muscle areas. I definitely won the three-point line and most of the areas in between.

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Boston was without backup big man Luke Kornet after he strained his right calf during practice on Saturday. But the Celtics bench stepped up without him and contributed 30 points.

Sunday's game had a very different feel without Butler, whose postseason heroics contributed to Miami's run from the playoffs to the NBA Finals a year ago.

Boston beat the Heat in all three of their regular-season meetings this season, including a 33-point defeat in Miami.

Sunday's game was similar to that one, with the Celtics jumping on the Heat on the opening tap.

On the first possession of the game, Tatum was stripped on a last-second dunk attempt but corralled the loose ball and found Brown for a 3-pointer.

After a Miami miss, Brown followed that up with a drive and spin move past Jaquez Jr Submerge with both hands.

He was part of the Celtics' 17-2 run through the first three minutes. Miami began by missing its first four shots before Adebayo's short jumper finally put the Heat on the scoreboard.


AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA