With the season on the line, the Celtics rolled over and died.
The Boston Celtics fell to the Miami Heat 128-102. They’re now down three games to none, a deficit no team in NBA history has overcome.
The Heat threw the first punch, jumping out to an eight-point first quarter, and from there, the Celtics completely folded. Their offensive possessions were marked by little ball movement and missed shots, and their defense was even more atrocious, allowing Miami to penetrate at will and completely out hustle them in transition. As soon as the second half began, it became apparent Boston was punting on not just this game, but their championship aspirations.
A few Celtics — basically just the crew that finished out the 4th quarter — showed some heart, but their most important players were completely checked out from the get go. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in particular were horrendous. they had 3 turnovers apiece, and Tatum finished 6-18 from the field while Brown shot 6-17. They also combined to shoot 1-14 from three.
On the flip side, Miami imposed their will on the Celtics not thanks to Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, but their slew of former undrafted free agents who have made names for themselves these Playoffs. Gabe Vincent, Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, and Caleb Martin combined for 79 points, 8 more than the entire Celtics’ eight-man rotation.
The Celtics have another chance to fight on Tuesday, but it’s worth wondering if they’ll even show up for tipoff. At no point tonight, in the most important game of the season, did Boston look like the aggressors. They were completely on their heels, showing a troubling lack of mental toughness up and down the roster. If they can’t extend the season on Tuesday night, it will be a long offseason for everyone in the Celtics organization.