MIAMI (AP) — The Eastern Conference standings are not difficult to decipher. There’s Milwaukee on top, and then a five-team race for second place.
And the Boston Celtics made the mess even messier.
Gordon Hayward scored 29 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Jaylen Brown added 25 points and the Celtics led most of the game on the way to beating the Miami Heat 109-101 on Tuesday night.
“Every game is important,” Hayward said. “Every single one we play is important in the playoff race. We’re all so close together so … each one we have to treat it like a playoff game. That’s just how tight it is.”
Boston became the first East team to come into Miami and win this season; the rest of the conference had been 0-13 on the Heat floor.
The Celtics held Miami to 37 per cent shooting, a season-worst at home and the third-worst effort in 47 Heat games this season.
“Their defence really jammed us up,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said after his team fell to 0-2 against Boston this season. “That’s two games that they’ve done it to us. We’re better than this … and the little things matter against a good defensive team like this.”
Kemba Walker added 16 points and eight assists for Boston, which got 11 points from Marcus Smart and a 10-point, 11-rebound effort from Daniel Theis.
Toronto moved into second in the East, a game up on Miami. The Celtics are a half-game back of the Heat, number five Philadelphia is a game behind Boston and number six Indiana is only a half-game back of the 76ers.