Rapid Reaction: Celtics 78, Heat 66

BOSTON -- Rapid reaction following the Boston Celtics' 78-66 victory over the Miami Heat at TD Garden on Tuesday night.


Marquis Daniels (13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) and Sasha Pavlovic (a game-high 16 points) both reached double-figures for Boston, while Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Avery Badley all chipped in 8 points for the Celtics. Bass added eight rebounds, shooting 4-of-8 from the field in 28 minutes. For the Heat, James Jones scored 11 points while Dexter Pittman added 12 points and four rebounds.


The Heat pushed their third-quarter lead to 42-32 on a Mike Miller 3-pointer with 9:15 to play, but the Celtics outscored Miami 18-8 for the remainder of the quarter, assuming a brief 2-point cushion before a Norris Cole jumper tied things at 50 heading into the final frame. The Celtics held a consistent 6-point lead over the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter before the game was broken open somewhat (by this game's standards) on a Pavlovic 3-pointer from the left wing with 4:45 to go. Pavlovic struck again a little over two minutes later with another momentum-inducing 3-pointer from the left wing, putting the Celtics ahead by 11, then E'Twaun Moore cemented Boston's win with a 3-pointer from the top of the key less than 30 seconds later.


With 9:33 remaining in the fourth quarter, Daniels intercepted a Juwan Howard pass at halfcourt and pushed the ball the other way, rising up for a wide-open, emphatic slam, giving Boston its first lead of the fourth quarter at 54-52.


Celtics newcomer Sean Williams made his TD Garden debut, finishing with 5 points, 4 rebounds and 2 blocks, playing a season-high 13 minutes. Williams was noticeable throughout Boston's early fourth-quarter surge, blocking a Howard jump shot, putting back a JaJuan Johnson miss on the left side, and grabbing three of his four rebounds over the first six minutes of the frame.


The first quarter was nothing to write home about as both teams, perhaps due to their mutual lack of star power, struggled mightily out of the gate. The Celtics managed just 10 first-quarter points on 4-of-17 shooting to go along with seven turnovers, while Miami scored a slightly more respectable 17 points on 8-of-16 shooting, but the Heat turned the ball over a whopping 11 times in the opening 12 minutes.


Despite sustaining a sizable cut under his right eye late in the second quarter from a Jones elbow, Keyon Dooling proved to be a spark off the bench as he chipped in 7 points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with three rebounds and two assists, finishing with a plus-5.


The Celtics and Hawks both won on Tuesday night, but the Celtics kept themselves alive in the hunt for homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If the Celtics win on Thursday in their regular-season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks and the Hawks loose their final game on the same night against the Dallas Mavericks, the Celtics will clinch the homecourt edge by virtue of owning the tiebreaker. The Celtics were able to get valuable minutes for certain players who, depending on how things shake out, could have an impact on their postseason run, including Daniels, Pavlovic and even Moore. Pierce, meanwhile, despite a slow start, was able to reestablish his rhythm after a lengthy break from action in the aftermath of sitting out last Friday's tilt with the Hawks.