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The Celtics needed a momentum swing early in Friday night’s game against the Heat, and Oshae Brissett provided it

Oshae Brissett had five rebounds and a powerful lefthanded dunk in 14 minutes off the bench against the Heat Friday night.Maddie Schroeder/Getty

After his team’s impressive 119-111 win over the Heat on Friday night, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was asked about managing momentum during games, whether stopping an opponent’s surges or ensuring that his own team’s rally rolls on.

Mazzulla seemed to appreciate the question and started talking about how he has studied momentum closely. He said there are ways to manipulate it. He said there are ways to halt it. Much of the process, he said, involves simply having deep knowledge of your team as well as the other one.

Then he veered from the broader explanation toward a specific example from the Celtics’ win. His excitement was noticeable.


“The one thing we haven’t talked about yet is Oshae Brissett,” Mazzulla said. “He didn’t play in Game 1. And, like, he changed the game . . . That, to me, is what momentum is all about. He came in and he made a significant impact and he did his job at a high, high level.”

The Heat roared to a 26-13 lead. The good vibes from the Celtics’ season-opening win in New York were quickly being replaced by unease, and perhaps some post-traumatic stress.

This was the first real game at TD Garden since the eighth-seeded Heat crushed the Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, and another humbling defeat would have created more angst than a regular-season October loss usually does.

Mazzulla looked down his bench and called on Brissett, who signed a two-year, minimum-salary contract this past summer. He was not part of the nine-man rotation against the Knicks, and Mazzulla had planned to insert him in the second quarter against the Heat. But he was getting his chance now, and it was urgent.

After grabbing one defensive rebound two minutes earlier, Brissett muscled into the lane and gobbled up Jaylen Brown’s missed free throw before his putback attempt was swatted out of bounds. Still, it had given the Celtics another possession.


This time, Al Horford missed an open 3-pointer from the right arc and Brissett raced toward the hoop, slid past Miami’s Kyle Lowry, and snagged another rebound. The possession ended with a 3-pointer by Sam Hauser.

“[I was] kind of seeing how the game was going,” Brissett said. “Just felt like I knew what I had to do. Just come in there and really just be myself. I didn’t want to try to do anything too crazy or try to act out of character, but that’s who I am, that’s how I play. With that mind-set.”

Brissett’s work on the offensive glass helped set the tone for what would become an essential aspect of Friday’s game, with the Celtics punishing the Heat with 23 second-chance points.

Finally, with 30 seconds left in the quarter, Brissett noticed his defender veering toward Jayson Tatum at the right arc, and he made a quick cut along the baseline. Tatum zipped an over-the-head pass to Brissett, who threw down a powerful lefthanded dunk before flexing for the crowd.

In about five minutes, the 13-point deficit had been whittled to just 3, and the Celtics credited Brissett’s energy and hustle for their revival.

“He was the sole reason that we got back into the game, and I told him that,” Tatum said. “He came right in, and we were kind of flat. His energy, his offensive rebounding, giving us second- and third-chance opportunities was big. And that’s his job. For him to come do that, to not play last game and come in today and give us the spark to turn the game around was huge. And that’s what I love about our team.”


Mazzulla has stressed that roles for the bench players outside of the top six will be fluid. So much will depend on matchups, availability, and, as Brissett showed on Friday, momentum.

But Brissett believes he has the mind-set to stay prepared. And he understands that he and the other backups will have value in multiple ways.

“We know that we’re going to be important throughout a lot of these games of the season,” he said. “And then when it comes to playoff time, we’re going to be relied on, even if it’s for a little bit. Just go in there and just do what we do and do what we’ve learned all of training camp.

“So we take every practice like that and we’ve taken it really serious and going up against starters and it’s making them better. And it’s also making us better and more confident in ourselves knowing that any time we do get thrown in, we’ve just got to play the same way.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.