Miami forward Caleb Martin, behind center, fouls Boston’s Jayson Tatum, front center, as Jaylen Brown, right, looks on in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series on Sunday. Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Miami Heat are facing long odds in their first-round series against the Boston Celtics.

With Jimmy Butler and Terry Rozier sidelined, a lot has to go right offensively for Miami to keep pace with Boston, which took a 1-0 series lead with a 114-94 win Sunday. The Heat also need to rely on their defensive intensity to try to slow the Celtics down, something Heat center Bam Adebayo acknowledged before the series began.

“It’s going to be a dogfight,” Adebayo told reporters Friday. “It’s going to be a battle. It’s going to be in the mud. It’s not going to be pretty basketball. That’s usually how it is when we play that team.”

That type of play is Miami’s only chance but Coach Erik Spoelstra has a bit of a problem. In the wake of Caleb Martin’s hard foul on Jayson Tatum in the closing minute of Game 1, accusations are flying about Miami’s style of play. There is a split nationally about Martin’s play and Spoelstra did his best to downplay the episode while speaking to reporters after Tuesday’s practice.

“I don’t think it’s worth addressing,” Spoelstra said of Martin’s foul. “I get it. Everybody gets emotional. You ask fans on one side how they view the play, you ask fans on our side, you are going to get two totally different viewpoints on that. That’s the playoffs, that’s the fun part for fanbases.

“It was an irrational assessment on our view on what actually happened. The players are fine. All the outside noise or anything like that isn’t going to decide the series or the game.”


While it appears nothing is going to happen to Martin after the controversial play, there’s little doubt all eyes will be on Game 2 to see if tension boil over. That is not good for Spoelstra and the Heat since their path towards victory involves them being super physical. If the officials are calling a tight game, it will be tougher for Miami to pull that off. That left Spoelstra trying to wave off any extra attention the play could bring to Wednesday night.

“This is good, clean, tough, physical playoff basketball and it always has been with Boston and us,” Spoelstra said. “It’s not going over the top, the league doesn’t need to look into anything more on either side to put extra eyes on it.”

The extra eyes he’s referring to here are officials paying close attention to any extracurriculars. If Miami’s isn’t allowing to be physical, that’s bad news for their chances and it led to Spoelstra essentially making a plea to league officials.

“This is tough competition basketball,” Spoelstra said. “This is what everyone wants, this is what the fans want, players want, teams want and even the league. They want this level of competition.”

Whether or not Spoelstra gets his wish remains to be seen but this will be on more subplot to monitor entering a pivotal Game 2 contest.

THE CELTICS were not directly involved in any ties that the NBA broke at the end-of-season random drawing to establish the order for the 2024 NBA Draft. Yet, they did receive some minor bad news for their 2024 second-round selection.

Boston had the best record in the NBA by seven games with a 64-18 record so they will hold the 30th pick in the first round in June. President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens has yet to make a first-round selection three years in charge, so it will be interesting to see whether that trend will continue.

The one pick that was impacted during Monday’s tiebreaker was a second-round selection that Boston acquired from the Dallas Mavericks (through Sacramento). Boston picked up the extra pick on draft night in 2023 for trading down in the second round. The Knicks and Mavericks finished with the same record in the regular season and the Mavericks won the tiebreaker to finish ahead of New York in the first round at No. 24.

The NBA flips-flops the draft order of ties in the second round so Boston’s draft pick (via Dallas) in the second round will drop one slot lower. However, the team does get bumped up to No. 54 overall since the Philadelphia 76ers (No. 48) had to forfeit their second-round pick as a penalty for free agency tampering.

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