Heat's inability to match Celtics in major stat category could end their season

The Miami Heat are just an OK three-point shooting team, but that's not good enough against the vaunted Boston Celtics.
Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin (16) shoots the ball over
Apr 21, 2024; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Miami Heat forward Caleb Martin (16) shoots the ball over / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Trailing 14-0 to start the game, the Miami Heat managed to cut the deficit to five after the first quarter. But with the Boston Celtics starting to break the Heat's zone with Sam Hauser knocking down a plethora of threes, Boston built a lead that was too large to overcome as the Miami Heat fell 114-94 in Game 1 Sunday afternoon at TD Garden.

The Miami Heat lost drastically in a crucial area they cannot afford to be outclassed in.

Coming into the playoffs, the Boston Celtics entered as the second best three-point shooting team and finished behind the Oklahoma City Thunder by one percentage point. The Celtics also lead the league in three-point attempts at 42.5 a game with the second-place Dallas Mavericks shooting three less attempts per game.

As a group this game, 49 out of 82 field goal attempts from Boston were behind the arc where they made 22 threes and shot 44.9 percent from downtown in Game 1. Miami's zone has been very effective in throwing teams off of their offensive game plan, but against the Celtics with spacing all around the court, the Heat's zone was being picked to pieces as the Heat sent multiple defenders at the ball to stop attacks to the basket.

Compared to the Celtics three-point masterclass, the Heat made just 12 triples on 37 attempts with most of those makes coming from Delon Wright, who went a perfect 5 for 5, in the fourth quarter.

Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis are going to make tough shots regardless of how good the defense is at times, but the last thing Miami can afford is to give the Celtics open gym three-point attempts when they have been the most effective team from that area all season.

By the end of the game, the Heat were out-scored by 30 from beyond the arc.

Miami clearly does not have the personnel to be in a three-point shootout with the Celtics, and Game 1 showed that the Heat need to lower Boston's attempts and makes from downtown to give themselves a chance to compete against the best team in the league.

But the Heat have on-ball defenders such as Delon Wright and Bam Adebayo that make players work for their shots. On a side they pride themselves on, the Heat are going to have to trust their best defenders to hold their own to the best of their ability and not be so keen to send double teams that leave others open. Miami will likely fall back to zone in spurts, but long stretches of playing strictly zone can burn them from three as Game 1 proved.

As Erik Spoesltra alluded to in the past, the Heat are going to have to make these games ugly and in the mud. If not, Game 1's result might be similar for the rest of the series.