Everything was going well for the Boston Celtics in their January 24 game against the Miami Heat. At one point, they even held a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. But in the fourth quarter, Miami went into a zone defense, and Boston’s offense faltered.
It all ended in one ugly possession at the end of the game, as Jayson Tatum got double-teamed and turned the ball over. After the contest, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra sounded off on Tatum and what it was like having to contain him throughout the game.
“I don’t know,” Spoelstra told CLNS Media when asked about what worked differently when guarding Tatum later on in the game. “I think we didn’t really make the necessary efforts in the first half. Your scheme is not going to get anything done. It’s the efforts, the discipline, the multiple efforts that you have to make against a very good offensive team with three-point shooting and everything. Our close-outs are better in the second half. Putting bodies in front of him, and then, if he kicked it out, we were able to get to guys quicker than we were to start the game. Basically, every time he wanted to get off it quickly in the first half, it led to a wide-open shot. When we’re at our best, we’re not giving up one pass, one trigger wide-open shots. It was much stingier in that second half. And that’s the inspiration of H[aywood Highsmith], and Gabe [Vincent] was really moving in that zone. And Bam [Adebayo] was just terrific on the back side of it.”
Through the first three quarters of the game, Tatum poured in 29 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists on 8-of-14 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point line. But in the fourth quarter, he dropped three points on just 1-of-4 shooting. It was a drastic difference.
Miami mounted an impressive comeback behind a 15-point run in the final frame, as the Celtics simply couldn’t keep up.
Jayson Tatum Sounds Off on Botched Final Play
With 20 seconds remaining in the game, Bam Adebayo nailed a mid-range jumper to put the Heat up by two points. Instead of calling a timeout, head coach Joe Mazzulla allowed Tatum to bring the ball up the court, but as noted, the possession failed.
After the game, Tatum spoke about the play and took the blame for it.
“I think not calling a timeout was smart. It’s on me,” Tatum said via Souichi Terada of MassLive. “They trust me in that situation to make the right play. Regardless of being in a double team or not, I can’t let us down like that.”
Bam Adebayo Sends Message on Celtics-Heat Rivalry
Boston and Miami have had a long history together. They faced off multiple times in the early 2010s and have met in the Eastern Conference Finals in two of the last three years. Heading into the January 24 matchup, Adebayo spoke about the rivalry.
“Obviously, it’s history there from before we were here,” Adebayo told Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “And some people still carry that weight, and it’s one of those things that you’ve just got to inherit. Some people just don’t understand it, they don’t get it. But when the Celtics come in we always try to make it a dogfight.”