Celtics’ Jayson Tatum OK after collision late in win over Heat and expects nothing less in playoffs

BOSTON (AP) — The Celtics were winding down a playoff-opening victory, but one of their biggest stars had just hit the floor.

All-Star Jayson Tatum, who’d only minutes before notched his first career playoff triple-double, was going up for a rebound under a minute to play when he was undercut by Miami’s Caleb Martin, sending him crashing to the TD Garden surface.

Tatum landed hard on his hip but and bounced right up. But it didn’t stop fellow Celtics star Jaylen Brown from getting nose-to-nose with Martin, leading to a brief scrum and double technical fouls on Brown and Martin.

Tatum then coolly knocked down two free throws to help put the finishing touches on a 114-94 victory in the opener of Sunday’s first-round playoff series.

Tatum said he was fine after the play physically, and that the reason he rose to his feet so fast was linked to this team’s goal to maintain its poise this postseason, something it didn’t always display in last season’s matchup with Miami.

“Just understanding it’s playoff basketball. It’s a physical game playing against a physical team. (Stuff is) going to happen,” he said. “It’s probably not the last time I’m gong to get hit like that, or fouled in this series. I wasn’t hurt to get hit like that. Just get up. And I knew we were in the bonus. Just go down there and knock the free throws down.”

Martin told reporters afterward that there was no ill intent on the play.

“I tried to go help him up,” Martin said. “I just heard him hit the floor. Obviously, I know I hit him pretty hard, but momentum was carrying me and I think I got pushed in that direction. But hard foul, tried to pick him up. That’s just what it is. If Jimmy (Butler) was on the floor I’m sure I would have done the same thing. It’s just what it is.”

From his vantage point Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said he wasn’t concerned at all when Tatum hit the floor.

“I was waiting to see what he was going to do, I was kind of excited about the whole situation,” Mazzulla said of the play. “I enjoyed watching it.”

He also enjoyed what he witnessed for most of the other 47 minutes.

Tatum finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists to lead six Celtics in double-figures. Derrick White added 20 points and four assists. Brown added 17 points. The Celtics also dominated in the paint, holding the Heat to just five offensive rebounds.

Center Kristaps Porzingis said he thought they responded well to the moment with Tatum.

“I think we matched it. We did a pretty good job I would say,” he said. “I don’t know if it was an accident or not. Those kind of plays happen. A little bit of action, I think it’s good for during the playoffs. That was fun.”

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

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