Celtics incinerate Heat to advance

The Boston Celtics crushed the Miami Heat 118-84 to complete an emphatic 4-1 series victory Wednesday and book their place in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

The postseason top seeds, who were upset by Miami in last year’s Eastern Conference finals, avenged that loss in spectacular fashion with a one-sided wire-to-wire rout at the TD Garden.

Jaylen Brown and Derrick White scored 25 points apiece to lead Boston, who barely noticed the absence of the injured Kristaps Porzingis.

The Celtics threw down the gauntlet in the first quarter, racking up a whopping 41 points to open up a commanding 18-point advantage. They extended that lead to 22 points by half-time, and kept up the pressure in the third quarter to lead 98-66 heading into the final frame.

Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla could afford to rest his frontline players for the fourth with the game effectively won against an injury-hit Miami team missing Jimmy Butler and Jaime Jaquez Jr.

Mazzulla said the Celtics had not been thinking about last year’s series loss to Miami.

“I don’t really worry about what happened last year,” Mazzulla said. “At the end of the day I liked how we approached the series, regardless of who they were playing.

“It had an intentionality to it, had attention to detail, and had a consistent physicality,” he added.

“And that’s the most important thing, regardless of who we’re playing. We wake up tomorrow and we’ve got to do it all over again versus another team.”

Boston will now face either the fourth-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers or fifth seeds Orlando in the Eastern Conference semi-finals. Cleveland lead that series 3-2.

The Celtics advance brimming with confidence after ruthlessly taking care of eighth-seeded Miami in five games.

White’s 25-point haul included five three-pointers while Jayson Tatum added 16 points including 12 rebounds with three assists.

Sam Hauser added 17 points off the bench while Jrue Holiday also cracked double figures with 10 points. – AFP


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