MIAMI — The undermanned Celtics led for the entire second half and consistently silenced the Heat’s small rallies as they surged to a 109-101 win on Tuesday night.
Gordon Hayward had 29 points and nine rebounds and Jaylen Brown added 25 points and five assists. The two combined to make 20 of 30 shots and 5 of 10 3-pointers. The Celtics were without Jayson Tatum (groin) and Enes Kanter (hip) for the third game in a row.
Observations from AmericanAirlines Arena:
■ Grant Williams didn’t fill up the box score, but he is really sturdy and had some important plays in big moments. His offensive rebound on the final possession of the third quarter led to a Brad Wanamaker 3. Then, in the opening minutes of the fourth, he swatted a Dion Waiters layup attempt, came up with a steal, and then grabbed two more offensive rebounds on a possession, the second of which led to his own layup that made the score, 88-80.
But Williams collected his fifth foul with the Celtics leading, 92-81, with 7:18 left. It was such a big call that Celtics coach Brad Stevens challenged it to keep Williams out of foul trouble, but he lost. When Williams went to the bench, Miami went on a quick 6-0 run. But the Celtics pushed back against small Heat spurts all night, and this time was no different, and they quickly stretched the lead back to 10. The Heat did not pull closer than 6 points the rest of the night.
■ It seemed that Brown’s powerful game would give him one last boost before the coaches voted for All-Star reserves, but I was told the deadline was at 3 p.m. Tuesday.
■ The Celtics had a good start. They took an 8-0 lead just 69 seconds into the game and scored on their first five trips on offense. It was an encouraging sight for a shorthanded team on the final game of a three-game road trip.
■ Although the Celtics were undermanned and finishing up a trip, the Heat played on Monday night while Boston rested, and in the first half Miami certainly looked like the more sluggish team. Miami made just 37 percent of its shots and 24 percent of its 3-pointers.
■ After the Celtics shot a blistering 63.6 percent from the field in the first quarter, Miami spent much of the second quarter in a bit of a matchup zone. The Celtics struggled at first, but began to find some seams for open shots close to the basket later in the period.
■ Hayward and Brown combined to go 8 for 9 from the field in the first quarter. Hayward did well to use his physical advantages against Miami’s smaller defenders. He’s so good at getting into lanes with strong drives and then rebalancing himself at the last second to get off a well-centered shot. He attempted 10 free throws, the second most he has taken in a game this year.
■ The Marcus Smart experience was on full display on the first half. He had his near-nightly play in which he just ripped the ball away from an opponent driving to the basket on him, he ended up on the floor knocking the ball away from Miami in a possession that ended in a shot-clock violation, and he led a three-on-one break with a no-look pass that soared out of bounds.
■ Smart appeared to be the victim of tough luck in the opening minute of the second quarter, when Goran Dragic drove to the rim on him and essentially kicked him in the stomach as he jumped to draw contact, but Smart was called for the foul. He asked Stevens to challenge the play, but it was not worth it in that situation.
■ Smart did draw Bam Adebayo’s third foul when he stood in the lane and took a charge on a looming dunk attempt with 6:47 left in the second quarter. That sent Adebayo, a potential All-Star, to the bench for the rest of the half.
■ Stevens got a bit creative with his substitution patterns, given his lack of personnel. He took Kemba Walker out for brief breaks in both the first and third quarters, apparently so he would be able to anchor weaker bench units later.
■ Brown had some powerful offensive bursts in this game. The best one came over a stretch of just 64 seconds in the third quarter in which he scored inside, drilled a 3-pointer, and hit a midrange shot. It did not look like any of the three even hit the rim.
■ The Heat were without guard Kendrick Nunn and forward Justise Winslow, but former Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk still found himself on the outside of coach Erik Spoelstra’s rotation. Olynyk played 25 minutes against the Magic on Monday.