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Scores and takeaways for Wednesday’s NBA playoffs: Heat flip script on Celtics, Thunder dominate Pelicans


By Jared Weiss, Eric Koreen, Darnell Mayberry and Will Guillory

The Heat doesn’t fully describe what Miami pulled off from behind the arc in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at TD Garden. The Heat hit 23 three-pointers to secure the victory, even turning the series 1-1 and home field advantage.

Miami’s number of 3s made is a team record for a playoff game and only one to match the mark for any game in team history (Dec. 14, 2022, on OKC).

Tyler Herro, who hit six 3s and had 24 points, also contributed a career-high 14 assists, passing teammate Jimmy Butler — who had 13 in Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals — for the most in a play- off road game in Heat history.

Later in the evening, the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their lead to 2-0 with a dominant victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved why he’s an MVP candidate with a game-high 33 points, while Chet Holgrem scored 26 points.

New Orleans – still without the injured Zion Williamson – struggled to find momentum to compete with OKC’s red-hot offense. All five Thunder starters scored in double figures, with the team shooting 59 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from 3.

OKC became the first NBA team ever to have all points in a playoff game come from players age 25 or younger. by OptaStats.

Heat 111, Celtics 101

Series: 1-1 draw

Game 3: Saturday at 6pm ET in Miami

The Heat flips the script

It didn’t look like this series was going to get too competitive after Game 1. Miami wasn’t taking 3s, the defense couldn’t quite handle the Jays and Boston’s firepower was simply too much in the end. But on Wednesday the script completely flipped. The Heat effectively turned into the Celtics and vice versa.

This time it was Miami raining 3s, with Herro having one of his best games of the season. Caleb Martin looked like the guy who tore Boston apart in the conference finals last year. So this wasn’t just an ordinary eight-seed win that got lucky.

This raises real questions about whether Boston can maintain a strategic advantage as this series continues. Can Kristaps Porziņģis catch the ball and shoot against Miami’s active wings, making his life constantly difficult?

There were major holes in the Celtics’ defensive effort and they will have to do a better job of closing the situation and finding a way to keep up with Herro-Bam Adebayo’s pick-and-roll. That play torched the Celtics defense from start to finish, so how can Boston adapt? Can Derrick White finally get over those screens? Will Boston have to shift gears more and let Adebayo attack the guards?

This was one of those games that reminds you why everyone fears the heat when playoff time comes. Coach Erik Spoelstra showed he can turn his team into whatever it takes to win in the postseason. The Celtics will need much greater effort to get deeper into possession and less offensive predictability to seize control of this series. — Jared Weiss, Celtics staff writer

The underdog’s gambling game

Boston won Game 1 thanks to a 22-12 3-point lead, and Spoelstra’s plan for Game 2 seemed designed to flip that script. Spoelstra emphasized on the broadcast that his team was merely taking the shots the Celtics defense surrendered, but taking 15 three-pointers compared to just four twos in the first quarter was an extreme insistence on embracing the underdog’s game.

Four Heat players had three or more threes, led by Herro’s six. Defensively, Miami played a inconsistent scheme to lure the Celtics into one-on-one offense. The Celtics scored well in the paint, but couldn’t create the second-chance points to take full advantage of the mismatches.

Spoelstra is not someone who sits still strategically. Even after a victory he tinkers. One name to keep an eye on: Nikola Jović. The second-year forward was minus-25 in Game 1 and had five turnovers on Wednesday. He sat for the entirety of the match, which is not unusual. However, without the injured Butler, Haywood Highsmith’s perimeter defense looks increasingly important. Jović did have eleven points, nine rebounds and six assists, so it’s not like he’s terribly out of place.

Spoelstra has to know that his team won’t shoot 54 percent from deep most nights, so he’ll continue to look for margins he can exploit. — Eric Koren, NBA staff writer

Thunder 124, Pelicans 92

Series: OKC leads 2-0

Game 3: Saturday at 3:30 PM ET in New Orleans

(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

How the Thunder won

The Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren tandem combined for 59 points on 22 of 32 shooting, leading the Thunder to a dominant performance. Oklahoma City led by as many as 34 points and never trailed in the final 43 1/2 minutes of the game.

Jalen Williams added 21 points along with seven assists. Unlike the slugfest we saw in Game 1, Oklahoma City’s offense came alive at the start of Game 2, fueled by 15 early points from Holmgren, who made his first seven shots. The Thunder hit 14 of 29 three-pointers (48.3 percent). They shot just 43.5 percent from the field and made just 10 of 32 three-pointers in Game 1.

Oklahoma City’s defense confused the Pelicans for the second straight game and was responsible for the offensive outburst. The Thunder turned 17 Pelicans turnovers into 22 points. Pelicans star Brandon Ingram scored just 18 points on 5-for-10 shooting after finishing with just 12 points in Game 1.

After protecting their home court, the Thunder must now head to New Orleans with extreme confidence as the series shifts to Games 3 and 4.

The Pelicans have shown no answer for Gilgeous-Alexander. Holmgren seemed more comfortable in Game 2. And Ingram still can’t get going. — Darnell Mayberry, NBA staff writer

Pelicans were not prepared for this moment

The Pelicans have been one of the most tenacious teams in the NBA this season, and it showed as they led the league with 28 straight wins. All year round they fed off the road crowd and performed at the highest level. They looked nothing like that team on Wednesday night. They completely fell apart in every way possible during a Game 2 demolition by the Thunder. New Orleans turned the ball over eighteen times, including eight notable offensive errors. Ingram had two field goal attempts in the first half. Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren and Williams got what they wanted all night, combining for 80 points on 32-of-49 shooting.

New Orleans didn’t just look like a young team. It seemed like a team that wasn’t prepared for this moment. Now the team returns home trailing 0-2 and needs a win on Saturday to give itself any chance of reviving the season. This one turned out as bad as he could have imagined. — Will Guillory, Pelicans staff writer

Thursday’s NBA playoffs schedule

Cavaliers at Magic: 7:00 PM ET (Cavs lead 2-0)

Knicks at 76ers: 7:30 PM ET (Knicks lead 2-0)

Lakers gold nuggets: 10:00 PM ET (Nuggets lead 2-0)

Required reading

(Top photo of Tyler Herro and Jaylen Brown: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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