Scores and takeaways from Wednesday's NBA playoffs: Heat flip script at Celtics, Thunder dominate Pelicans

By Jared Weiss, Eric Koreen, Darnell Mayberry, and Will Guillory

The Heat didn't fully explain what dropped from behind the Miami arc in Game 2 against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday at TD Garden. The Heat hit 23 3-pointers in the win, tying the series at 1-1 and home-court advantage.

Miami's number of made 3s is a team record for a playoff game and just one shy of tying any game in team history (Dec. 14, 2022, at OKC).

Tyler Hero hit six 3s and scored 24 points, passing teammate Jimmy Butler, who had 13 in Game 2 of the 2020 NBA Finals, for the most road playoff game in Heat history with 14 assists.

Later in the night, the Oklahoma City Thunder extended their series lead to 2-0 with a dominant win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander proved why he's an MVP contender, scoring a game-high 33 points, while Chet Holgrem added 26 points.

NEW ORLEANS β€” still without an injured Zion Williamson β€” struggled to find the pace to compete with OKC's red-hot offense. All five Thunder starters scored in double figures, and the team shot 59 percent from the field and 48.3 percent from 3.

OKC became the first NBA team to score all of its points in a playoff game from players 25 years of age or younger. By Opta Stats.

Heat 111, Celtics 101

Series: The draw was 1-1

Game 3: Saturday at 6 p.m. ET in Miami

Heat flips the script

The series didn't look very competitive after Game 1. Miami didn't take 3s, its defense couldn't handle the Jays and Boston's firepower was too much in the end. But on Wednesday, the script was completely flipped. The Heat effectively turned on the Celtics and vice versa.

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This time, 3s rained down in Miami, and Hero had one of his best games of the season running the point. Caleb Martin looked like the guy who tore Boston apart in last year's conference finals. So this wasn't just a run-of-the-mill eight-seed-gets-lucky-shot kind of win.

This raises real questions about whether Boston can gain a strategic advantage as the series continues. Can Kristaps Porziņģis catch the ball and make a shot against Miami's agile wings?

There were big holes in the Celtics' defensive effort and they needed to get better and find a way to continue the Hero-Bam Adebayo pick-and-roll. That act burned the Celtics defense from start to finish, so how can Boston fix? Can Derrick White finally get past those screens? Should Boston start switching more and allow Adebayo to attack guards?

This is one of those games that reminds you why everyone dreads the Heat come playoff time. Coach Erik Spoelstra showed his team can turn anything it takes to win in the postseason. The Celtics will need more possession and less offensive predictability to take control of this series. β€” Jared Weiss, Celtic staff writer

Gambling of the underdog

Boston won Game 1 on the strength of a 22-12 advantage in 3-pointers, and Spoelstra's plan for Game 2 seemed designed to flip that script. Spoelstra insisted his team's Celtics defense was taking the shots it surrendered, but making 15 3-pointers compared to just four 2s in the first quarter was a serious exercise in embracing the gamble of underdogs.

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Four Heat players had three or more 3s, led by Hero's six. Defensively, the Miami Celtics played a switch-heavy scheme designed to provoke each other on offense. The Celtics scored well in the paint, but were unable to create second-chance points to take full advantage of the mismatch.

Spoelstra is not one to sit back strategically. Even after a hit, he tinkers. One name to watch: Nikola Jovic. The second-year forward was a minus-25 in Game 1 and had five turnovers Wednesday. He sat out the length of the game, which is not unusual. However, without an injured Butler, Haywood Highsmith's perimeter defense appears to be more important. Jovic had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists, so it wasn't like he was massively out of place.

Spoelstra must know that his team won't shoot 54 percent from deep most nights, so he'll continue to look for edges to exploit. β€” Eric Koren, NBA staff writer

Thunder 124, Pelicans 92

Series: OKC leads 2-0

Game 3: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in New Orleans


(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

How the Thunder won

Gilgeous-Alexander and Holmgren combined for 59 points on 22-of-32 shooting to power the Thunder to a dominant performance. Oklahoma City led by 34 points and never trailed in the game's final 43 1/2 minutes.

Jalen Williams added 21 points. Unlike the slugfest we saw in Game 1, Oklahoma City's offense came alive early in Game 2, sparking Holmgren's first seven shots for 15 opening points. The Thunder hit 14 of 29 3-pointers (48.3 percent). They shot just 43.5 percent from the field and made just 10 of 32 3-pointers in Game 1.

Oklahoma City's defense held the Pelicans to a second straight shutout and the offense exploded. The Thunder converted 17 Pelicans turnovers into 22 points. Pelicans star Brandon Ingram scored just 18 points on 5-of-10 shooting after finishing with 12 points in Game 1.

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After securing their home court, the Thunder should now head to New Orleans with high hopes as the series shifts to games 3 and 4.

The Pelicans had no answer for Gilgeous-Alexander. Holmgren looked more comfortable in Game 2. And Ingram couldn't go on yet. β€” Darnell Mayberry, NBA staff writer

The Pelicans are not ready at this point

The Pelicans have been one of the most tough-minded teams in the NBA this season, and it's been proven by their league-leading 28 wins. Throughout the year, they catered to the road crowd and were executed at the highest level. They looked nothing like that team on Wednesday night. They absolutely fell apart in every possible way during their Game 2 demolition at the hands of the Thunder. New Orleans turned the ball over 18 times, including eight significant offensive turnovers. Ingram made two field goal attempts in the first half. Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren and Williams combined for 80 points on 32-of-49 shooting and got what they wanted all night.

New Orleans doesn't look like a young team. It looked like an unprepared team for now. Now, it's 0-2 at home and needs a win on Saturday to give itself any chance of resurrecting its season. It has gone unimaginably worse. β€” Will Guillory, Pelican staff writer

Thursday's NBA playoff schedule

Cavaliers in Magic: 7pm ET (Cavs lead 2-0)

Hits at 76: 7:30 pm ET (Knicks lead 2-0)

Nuggets at Lakers: 10pm ET (Nuggets lead 2-0)

Required reading

(Top photo of Tyler Hero and Jaylen Brown: Winslow Townson/Getty Images)

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