After falling 2-0 behind in the series following Thursday’s defeat, Celtics players apparently aired their frustrations in a raucous locker room and it seemed to do the trick as they were never behind in a 117-106 triumph.
The Celtics were also boosted by the return of Hayward, who scored six points in 31 minutes of a welcome return from an ankle injury that has kept him out since August 17.
“I didn’t expect to play him that much,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens.
“I thought he looked pretty good, he asked to come out a couple times – the wind caught up to him a couple times – but I thought he did what he’s done all year.”
Kemba Walker scored 21 points and Marcus Smart 20 as the Celtics, for whom Tatum added 14 rebounds, shot 48.2 per cent (41 of 85) as a team, outscoring Miami 60-36 in the paint.
“I’m extremely tired right now, my ankle is pretty sore, but I’m proud of the way we fought and proud of us getting the win,” Hayward stated.
“They are a hard-playing team, they compete. They are obviously extremely well coached and they don’t give up.
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“I think they also have a lot of guys that can get going, especially from the outside, so leads aren’t safe and they can score in bunches, as we’ve seen in the first two games.
“Tonight, I think me personally, just trying to help us offensively, being somebody who can get in the paint, create, also trying to help us rebound, bring the ball up. I think if we can run, that can’t set their defense and we have so many good athletes, so many guys that can score and bring up the ball – it makes it difficult for them.”
For Miami, Bam Adebayo had 27 points and 16 rebounds, while Tyler Herro scored 22 to lead six players in double figures for the Heat, who had just their second defeat in 12 playoff matches en route to their lead in the Eastern Finals.
“We didn’t play hard enough,” said Jimmy Butler, who had 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
“We weren’t playing basketball the way that we have been to win the games that we have been winning.”
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