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Celtics: Celtics' defense answers call in blowout of Heat in Game 3...

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Published Time: 28.04.2024 - 03:04:07 Modified Time: 28.04.2024 - 03:04:07

Boston stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown said coach Joe Mazzulla challenged them to play with more defensive intensity after watching Miami go off from deep in Game 2. Celtics, celtics vs heat, Boston Celtics, heat vs celtics



Kristaps Porzingis dishes out a nice dime to Jaylen Brown, who flushes it home for a two-handed slam against the Heat. (0:17)

After surrendering 23 3-pointers in their Game 2 loss, the Celtics were far more active and physical defensively Saturday night and smothered the Heat in a 104-84 Game 3 win to take a 2-1 series edge.

Game 4 is Monday in Miami.

Boston stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown said coach Joe Mazzulla challenged them to play with more defensive intensity after watching Miami go off from deep in Game 2.

"Everybody knows how talented we are. But can we be the tougher, harder-playing team?" said Tatum, who finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 6 assists. "If we can combine that with the talent, it's going to be hard to beat us.

"Can we start off every game, essentially, punching first instead of reacting? That's a test we have to be up for every single night."

The Celtics' response to Mazzulla's challenge was instant. Guard Jrue Holiday and his teammates locked in early against the Heat's offense, surrendering just three points through the first 6 minutes, 46 seconds of play. Boston gave up just 12 points on 5-for-21 shooting in the first quarter, which Mazzulla called "a physical, tough ... rock fight."

Boston was happy to create those kinds of conditions defensively by pushing up further on that side of the ball. Brown, who finished with a game-high 23 points, said the Celtics came in with a handful of rules after Miami's record-setting showing in Game 2.

"No 'dare' shots. Respect those guys' capability. They're NBA players, and they can get hot on any given night," Brown said. "We just wanted to make it uncomfortable for them."

The result: Miami finished 9-of-28 from 3-point range, a night-and-day difference from the 23-of-43 performance three days earlier. Heat playmaker Tyler Herro -- who had one of the finest games of his career in Game 2, with 24 points and 14 assists -- looked bothered all night, shooting just 5-of-16 for 15 points and four turnovers. He shot 0-for-5 on contested looks, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

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