The Boston Celtics head home after going 3-0 on a short road trip that ended with a convincing 143-110 victory over the Miami Heat on Thursday, January 25.
A game like this can be considered a statement one. The Heat embarrassed the Celtics in Boston in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Was it payback time for the Celtics? Did they want to exact revenge by making a statement in from of Miami’s home crowd? According to Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla, neither was the case.
Joe Mazzulla Says Convincing With Over Heat Wasn’t a Statement Game
The Celtics had just come away with road victories over the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks, but it appeared their biggest test of the trip would come against the Heat. The Celtics hadn’t played in Miami since the conference finals and appeared to have a little extra bounce in their step during Thursday night’s meeting.
They also shot the ball well. Boston shot 63.7% from the floor and made 55% of its 3-pointers (22-for-40) in the convincing victory. Jayson Tatum led the way with 26 points in another balanced scoring attack for the Celtics. All five starters finished with at least 15 points, and Boston had seven players reach double figures in scoring.
Mazzulla was asked if there was a little extra focus for this one after being embarrassing bounced from the postseason by this team last year. He quickly shut that down.
“No,” he said postgame. “I thought we played a really good game. I said to a few of the guys that this game is really good, but it means nothing at all in the grand scheme of things if we don’t take the lessons that we need to and apply them to the next game.
“Enjoy it until we get to the plane, and then it’s on to the next one. I think the lessons here are what’s more important in the long term, whether we won or lost. It’s understanding what we’ve done well in the areas of the game that we’ve really improved on and fighting to keep those.”
Mazzulla and the Celtics Have a Nice Stretch at Home
Mazzulla wasn’t the only member of the Celtics who insisted there was no extra motivation against the Heat on Thursday. Jaylen Brown felt the same way.
“We just came out and played basketball,” Brown said postgame. “Obviously, a lot of history between the two teams, but last year is over with. It’s a new year.”
Maybe he was trying to be Joe Cool, but Mazzulla and the Celtics certainly did make the rest of the NBA take notice with their thrashing of the Heat on national television. The Celtics have won six of their last seven games and own the league’s best record at 35-10. Boston returns home now and will be there for quite some time.
The Celtics play their next seven games at TD Garden, beginning with a matchup with the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, January 27. They don’t hit the road again until Super Bowl Sunday, February 11, when they head back to Miami for another meeting with the Heat.
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