Boston Celtics

Celtics-Heat takeaways: Defensive adjustments do wonders for C's in Game 3

Boston upped its defensive effort to take a 2-1 series lead over Miami.

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The Boston Celtics went up 2-1 in their first-round playoff series vs. the Miami Heat with a bounce-back performance Saturday night.

After allowing the Heat to make a franchise playoff record 23 3-pointers in Game 2, the Celtics buckled down defensively to limit Miami to just 9-of-28 (32.1 percent) from beyond the arc. They pulled away during a dominant second quarter in which they scored 42 points -- three more than the Heat's first-half total. It was a complete 180 from the second half of Game 2, in which the C's scored just 40 points.

The Celtics led by as many as 29 points in their 104-84 Game 3 win. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown notched 22 points apiece while Kristaps Porzingis and Derrick White added 18 and 16, respectively.

Bam Adebayo had a team-high 20 points for the Heat. Tyler Herro and Nikola Jovic each chipped in 15.

Tip-off for Game 4 in Miami is set for Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET with Mike Gorman and Brian Scalabrine on the call for NBC Sports Boston. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live.

Here are three takeaways from Boston's Game 3 win.

Defensive adjustments do wonders

Coach Joe Mazzulla and the Celtics needed to make adjustments after allowing the Heat to go berserk from beyond the 3-point line in Game 2. They did just that, and the difference from Game 2 was night and day.

Boston upped its defensive effort significantly, pressuring Miami's ballhandlers and not allowing its sharpshooters to get comfortable from 3-point range. The Heat were thrown off from the opening tip, missing eight of their first nine shots and finishing the first quarter 5-for-21 from the floor -- including 1-of-9 from deep -- to end the frame with just 12 points.

That defensive effort lasted for all four quarters as Miami went just 9-of-28 from deep. That's only one more made 3 than it made in the first quarter of Game 2. The Heat made more 3s in Game 2 (23) than in Games 1 and 3 combined (21).

The Celtics also dominated the turnover battle, scoring 24 points off Miami's 12 turnovers. They had 19 points off turnovers in the first half, tying their most in a first half all season.

Eddie House gives his reaction to Tyler Herro's technical foul after throwing the basketball at Sam Hauser, saying he likes the Celtics' intensity.

Kristaps Porzingis bounces back

Game 2 marked perhaps Porzingis' worst performance as a Celtic. The prized offseason addition, widely considered the X factor for Boston, had just six points on 1-of-9 shooting (0-4 3-PT) in the 111-101 loss. He was a minus-32 in his 30 minutes on the court.

After that game, Porzingis said he'd make sure he's better offensively. He followed through with that promise on Saturday.

Porzingis scored the Celtics' first eight points to surpass his Game 2 total in under five minutes. He quickly snapped out of his slump with a pair of 3-pointers.

Porzingis finished with 18 points -- only four fewer than team leaders Tatum and Brown -- on 5-of-9 shooting (3-5 3-PT). He also looked more like himself on the defensive end with two steals and a block.

Derrick White makes all the difference

There isn't much opposing teams can do to stop the Celtics' offense when Derrick White is firing on all cylinders. The Heat got the full D-White experience in Game 3.

He made his presence felt throughout Saturday's matchup after a mostly quiet Game 2. White -- voted by his NBA peers as the most underrated player in the league -- played a key role in Boston's stellar second quarter with 12 points over a four-minute stretch.

That's when White did most of his damage in the scoring department, but it was an outstanding all-around performance by the All-Defensive guard. He was everywhere defensively while totaling 16 points on 7-of-14 from the field. He added five rebounds (three offensive) and three assists.

If Porzingis and White can do this again in Game 4 on Monday, the C's should have a chance to close out this series in Boston on Wednesday.

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