NBA Basketball

Boston meets Miami in conference finals rematch

The Boston Celtics did not enjoy their most recent game against the Miami Heat.

On Wednesday night, the Celtics will visit the Miami Heat in their first matchup since Sept. 27, when Miami eliminated Boston in the Eastern Conference finals.

Boston beat the Toronto Raptors 126-114 on Monday night, getting 40 points in 32 minutes from Jayson Tatum.

"Tatum was tremendous," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "We had a lot of guys out. We played on back-to-back (nights, but) no excuses."

The main injuries are to guards Kemba Walker (knee), Marcus Smart (thumb) and Jeff Teague (ankle). Smart's injury is considered the least serious of the three, and it is possible he could face the Heat.

"Marcus is the heart and soul of our team," Celtics teammate Jaylen Brown said. "His energy and his poise on offense are great for us. He gets me easy baskets."

Miami, which has alternated a loss with a win in all six of its games this season, has fought something of a bubble hangover, the result of reaching the 2020 NBA Finals.

Mostly, though, Miami has searched for a lineup that clicks.

On Monday night, in a 118-90 blowout of Oklahoma City, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra used his sixth different starting lineup in six games.

The most recent one clicked as Kelly Olynyk -- making his first start of the season -- finished with 19 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field, including 5 of 7 on 3-pointers.

"It's a different flow when you start," Olynyk said. "You kind of let the game come to you. Nonetheless, you've got to play your role."

Spoelstra, though, wasn't ready to announce he has cemented this lineup ... or any lineup.

"The starting lineup is overstated in so many ways," Spoelstra said. "The more important thing is us building consistency."

Olynyk wasn't the only impressive Heat player on Monday. Bam Adebayo led Miami with 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists, making 9-of-10 shots from the field. Jimmy Butler had 18 points, and Tyler Herro had game highs of nine rebounds and eight assists.

It will be interesting to see which Heat player will focus on Tatum, a 22-year-old former Duke star who is averaging 26.3 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4 assists a game this season.

On Monday, Tatum drove to the rim aggressively and repeatedly drew fouls, converting all 13 of his free-throw attempts. He also was 11 of 19 on field goals, including 5 of 8 on 3-pointers.

Boston's other young star is Brown, 24, who is averaging 26.9 points and 3.1 assists.

Adebayo leads Miami with 19.2 points per game and 8.0 rebounds.

--Field Level Media

Updated January 5, 2021

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