This game was a little reminiscent of the previous matchup between these two teams. The Celtics got out to an early commanding lead, but let the Heat back in the game late. There was also a series of confusing flagrant fouls. One of those flagrant fouls resulted in Isaiah Thomas being ejected from the game. I am fairly certain the review board for the NBA officials will downgrade Isaiah’s flagrant two to a common foul. But, we will have to wait and see on that one.
The Celtics defense
Both Dragic and Whiteside put up decent numbers, but Boston held all other members of the Heat to 8 points or fewer. The Celtics also held Miami to just 69 field goal attempts. The Heat did shoot the ball really well tonight, but holding a team shooting 52. 2% FG to 95 points has to count for something. The main reason Miami put up so few shots is because of their 23 turnovers. 13 of those turnovers were credited as steals to Boston, where Crowder lead the team with 5 of those steals.
Thomas and Bradley were dominant
Both AB and IT combined to score 43 of Boston’s 105 points in just 25. 8% of the team’s minutes. The backcourt duo shot 18-32 from the field, and 5 of 10 from deep. All but two of their points came with the clock running too, as only Thomas got to the free throw line, where he was 2 for 2. Avery would have got to the free throw line had he went with scissors, instead of choosing rock. With the game in cigar territory, Boston had a technical free throw upcoming. For a really fun, but strange reason, Crowder and Bradley played a single round of rock paper scissors to determine the shooter. Crowder’s choice of paper won the battle, but his missed technical free throw may have sidelined rock paper scissor decisions for some time.
The Celtics continue to win games they should win
Boston continues to win games against sub . 500 teams, while losing to the teams at the top. Tonight was another game that they really should of won and they did. Over the last nine games, all four of the Celtics’ losses have come against teams near the top of the standings. Boston needs to get to a point where they can win those games, but until they do, it’s important that they win the winnable games. The best part about these wins is that a lot of them have come on the road. With tonight’s win Boston has swept Miami on their home court. The next two meetings will be in Boston.
The Bench isn’t contributing on the offensive end
The Celtics bench shot 8 for 28 tonight from the field, and 0 for 7 from deep.combined, the bench played 93 of Boston’s 240 minutes, and only managed to score 21 points. In comparison, the starters played 147 minutes, and scored 84 points. The difference per minute is 0. 57 points per minute for the starters, and 0. 23 points per minute for the bench. It’s not a great measurement of how well the bench or the starters played because they are often intermingled, but the Celtics need their bench to be more productive on the offensive side of the floor. Tonight, the bench held their own defensively, and that allowed them to maintain the lead through much of this game.
Whiteside’s flagrant one
Tonight’s questionable flagrant fouls started with Whiteside’s elbow making contact with Olynyk’s chin, but most of the impact was to Olynyk’s neck. Whiteside immediately reached for Kelly as he went down, and he was very apologetic before Kelly hit the ground. Olynyk was fine, easy for me to say, though he had some redness on his neck for a little while. This was clearly a case where Whiteside expected Olynyk to be closer to his back-side than he was. When Whiteside’s elbow went backwards he expected it to make contact on the outside of Olynyk’s shoulder.
Player reactions were great during this incident. The intention of a flagrant foul is to excessively penalize a team for an act that is not part of the game of basketball. Whiteside’s immediate reaction and Kelly’s ability to recover quickly should have made this a common foul where contact gives a player a disadvantage. Instead it was reviewed on a very moderately sized monitor, and it really looked worse than it was.
Isaiah’s flagrant two
This one is really hard to understand. Thomas was being guarded closely, and very low to ground by Winslow. Winslow was crouched down and trying to take Thomas’s space away from him. Winslow was also shading Thomas to the baseline, where he knew he had help. So, Thomas faked the shot, and went to overtake Winslow going back to the middle of the court. Because Winslow was so low, Thomas ripped the ball over Winslow’s head as he was trying to get to Winslow’s left. Because Winslow was so close, Thomas’s elbow made contact with Winslow’s face.
Isaiah hit him in a very cut prone part of the face, just below the eye where there is little muscle tissue. Winslow had a very small cut that bled. It was bandaged up with a small adhesive cloth that was no bigger than an average pinky nail. Everything that lead up to Winslow getting a small cut just below his eye was entirely basketball related. Hopefully, this will be a learning point for the officials, as opposed to a sign of things to come. I am very certain that the flagrant two will be reduced to a common foul, and we can all just move on.