Celtics finally figure out Heat on way to Game 3 win


Erik Spoelstra summed it up nicely in his ESPN interview between the third and fourth quarters.

"They are just playing with a different level of force," said the Heat coach.

And this was the difference between what was witnessed in the games the Celtics previously let slip away and their Game 3 117-106 win over the Heat Saturday night. Sixty points in the paint for Brad Stevens' team -- which led the entire way -- told the story.

Instead of sitting back and hoping to beat Miami's zone via three-point shots and somewhat stagnant ball movement, the Celts took it to the Heat. The catalyst? That would have been one of the participants in that well-publicized postgame locker room spat, Jaylen Brown.

Brown (26 points) consistently scored his points inside the three-point line, taking just two threes while going 11-for-17 from the floor.

"It's a testament to our character," Brown said about bouncing back from both the previous two losses and the postgame chaos from Thursday night.

"It is a positive and it should be a positive," Kemba Walker told ESPN regarding the locker room back-and-forth after Game 2. "

The aggressiveness of Brown was one of the elements that opened things up for the likes of Walker (21 points) and Jayson Tatum (25). Another would have been the return of Gordon Hayward.

Hayward, who was playing in just his second game during this postseason run thanks to a sprained right ankle, didn't finish with gaudy numbers (6 points in 30 minutes) but provided much-needed court awareness against the Miami zone.

The Celtics have now led in 112 of the 149 minutes played in the first three games.