Miami Heat's 2 adjustments turned the tide in Game 2 vs Celtics

The Miami Heat evened the series against the Boston Celtics, 1-1.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The Miami Heat had a lot of reflecting to do and adjustments to make after Game 1's 20-point blowout loss to the Boston Celtics. With a valiant defensive effort, three strong performances from Tyler Herro, Caleb Martin and Bam Adebayo along with having no hesitation from downtown, the Miami Heat shocked the basketball world and left TD Garden Wednesday night with a 111-101 victory.

Let's take a deeper dive into how the Heat stole homecourt advantage from the Celtics.

1. Lack of hesitation leads to record-setting three point night

After losing the three-point battle by a wide margin in Game 1, the Heat played the math game and passed the test with an A-plus. Not only did the Heat make 10 more threes than the Celtics, Miami set a franchise record for most threes in a playoff game with 23.

In Game 1, the Heat passed up open looks to swing the ball around a number of times. The Heat decided to let the threes fly with the Celtics, either leaving players such as Haywood Highsmith open or giving light contests on attempts.

Boston lived with the Heat shooting as many threes as they wanted, but in this instance, the Celtics were burned. As a team, Miami shot an unreal 53.5 percent from downtown. It's hard to bank on that happening on a game-to-game basis, but the mentality of taking those threes when given needs to stay the same.

2. A major change in the defensive scheme

With the Celtics having a lot of success in Miami's zone, the Heat decided to run a lot of man defense with heavy switching and fought over screens in the fourth quarter. The zone appeared in spurts, but not nearly to the degree it was used in Game 1.

Miami decided to put Tyler Herro on Jaylen Brown and even switch him onto Kristaps Porzingis whenever a screen was set. The Heat would show help at times but rarely committed to trapping the ball, letting the Celtics operate in isolation with little ball movement.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had their scoring moments, but a good amount of those makes were mid-range shots or layups. With the Heat scorching hot from three, Miami would live with Tatum and Brown scoring from the inside with good defense being played.

Boston is at their best when they can get their shooters involved with the defense collapsing on Tatum, Brown or Porzingis whenever they mismatch hunt. Even with some possessions resulting in layups, Miami learned the hard way that when the Celtics get hot from three, it's nearly impossible to beat them.

The Heat will have to stay disciplined on defense and not get discouraged if Boston's scorers make tough stepback mid-ranges or heavily contested threes. In Game 2, the Celtics took 32 threes out of 80 attempts. If the number of two-point attempts can be higher than three-point attempts, Miami will have a much better chance of slowing down the Celtics' offense.

3. Three Key contributors with A+ performances lead Heat past finish line

Outside of Bam Adebayo and Jaime Jaquez Jr., the Heat's starting five had a very forgettable outing in Game 1. Game 2 was a completely different story with Adebayo, Tyler Herro and Caleb Martin all having strong nights.

Adebayo put on a clinic in the paint and in the mid-range hitting multiple turnarounds, floaters in jumpers either in isolation or in the screen action with Tyler Herro. Adebayo has now scored over 20 in each game of the series as he finished Game 2 with 21 points.

Adebayo also led the game in rebounds for both teams with 10 and had a crucial offensive rebound with 1:35 left to burn even more time off the clock. The Heat have an advantage at the center position, with Adebayo being the best center in the series, and more performances where Adebayo wins the battle in the frontcourt will help the Heat tremendously.

Now for the other A+ performer, Tyler Herro has had a few rough nights over the last week with rough shooting nights in the play-in game against the 76ers and Game 1 against the Celtics. But on Wednesday night, Herro put up a historic performance and one of his best games ever. Herro knocked down a flurry of threes making six total, but Herro's playmaking was on another level and was recognized by Erik Spoelstra in high regard.

Once Herro became a threat scoring wise and had more eyes on him, Herro began to find his teammates in a plethora of ways as he found open shooters off the extra pass and also had a strong two-man game with Adebayo. For the game, Herro racked up a total of 14 assists, which now ranks as the second-highest assist output in a Heat playoff game behind Dwyane Wade, who had 15 assists against the Washington Wizards in the 2005 playoffs.

With Terry Rozier and Jimmy Butler out, Herro's responsibility of scoring and initiating offense dramatically increases, and he deserves a lot of credit for answering the call tonight against a stout defense.

Similar to Herro with the up-and-down play, Caleb Martin entered Game 2 with a target on his back. With claims from Brian Scalabrine that Martin fouled Jayson Tatum hard on purpose in Game 1, Martin was booed every time he touched the ball. Before Game 2, Caleb Martin's last 20-point outing was April 7 against the Indiana Pacers.

On Wednesday night, Martin flashed back to his 2023 Eastern Conference finals series against the Celtics and scored 21 points with five threes including a massive make in the fourth quarter to put the Heat up nine.

Given that Martin handled the circumstances well and had his best scoring outing since early April, it's only right to put Martin in the A-plus category with Herro and Adebayo for their performances. Many more will be needed if the Heat want to upset another one-seed.