Boston Celtics

Jan 28, 2020; Miami, Florida, USA; Boston Celtics forward Gordon Hayward (20) shoots against the Miami Heat during the second half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

The Celtics got off to a hot start and only briefly relinquished the lead to the Miami Heat on Tuesday night, scoring an impressive 109-101 win at AmericanAirlines Arena. Gordon Hayward led the way with 29 points in the winning effort.

Miami went on a 16-6 run from the start of the second quarter to take a 44-42 lead. That advantage lasted only nine seconds, as a pair of Daniel Theis free throws tied it back up. Kemba Walker drove to the hoop on their next possession and sank a layup plus a foul shot to put the Celts back up two.

The C’s maintained a tenuous but healthy distance between themselves and the Heat throughout the fourth quarter, in which Hayward netted six of his 29 points. They got timely offense from what’s been a maligned bench, including a three-point play by rookie Grant Williams and a three by Marcus Smart that put the Celtics up 92-81.

When Miami got the deficit back to six, Hayward pulled the Celtics back ahead with a turnaround jumper and a pair of free throws to get them back up 11. And when the Heat clawed back to 101-96, Smart hit another three, a dagger with 1:50 left in regulation.

Boston improved to 31-15 with the win, pulling within a half-game of Miami for third place in the Eastern Conference. It was a timely victory, considering they have a big-time Saturday matchup with the 76ers coming on Saturday at TD Garden.

Up Next: Before the C’s take on Philly, they head home to take on the Golden State Warriors in Boston. Golden State is last in the Western Conference at 10-38, so the hope is the Celtics don’t overlook them and head into Saturday having won five of their last six.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.