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The Celtics took their first step in what remains a long journey toward history and a return trip to the NBA Finals, earning a 116-99 win over the Heat on Tuesday.
Boston did so by getting back to an identity that puts its defense at the forefront, staying locked in, and playing with the necessary focus, energy, resistance, and attention to detail regardless of whether shots were falling.
That allowed them to maintain an up-tempo offensive operation, helping create in-rhythm threes, translating to drilling 19/45 (42.2 percent) attempts from beyond the arc.
It was an impressive display at both ends and a victory that showed the resiliency and character of this group, something they consistently reinforce when their backs are against the wall.
After the win, Jayson Tatum, whose 33 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists were game highs, as were his two blocks, matching Robert Williams and Derrick White for the most in the matchup, addressed the Celtics sticking together despite entering Tuesday’s tilt in an 0-3 hole.
“Everybody was in good spirits. Everybody was upbeat, and as cliche as it sounds, we’re just trying to take it one game at a time. We didn’t play well (in) those first three games, (and) we didn’t deserve to win. But we didn’t want that to define us. (To) define our season, and we still got a long, uphill battle to go, but tonight was a good start, and try to carry this momentum towards Thursday.”