BOSTON — At halftime of Recreation 1 of the Japanese Convention finals, issues seemed fairly darned good for the Boston Celtics. They’d managed the paint, taken care of the ball and made pictures, and consequently they’d a 66-57 lead over the Miami Warmth 24 minutes into this best-of-seven affair.
Then the third quarter began. And, but once more, the Dr. Jekyll model of Boston disappeared and the Mr. Hyde model took over.
By the point these 12 minutes had expired, the sport had been turned on its head. The Warmth had outscored the Celtics 46-25, turning a nine-point deficit right into a 12-point lead, and Miami was on its solution to a shocking 123-116 win to steal again home-court benefit on this collection and depart the second-seeded Celtics reeling from how shortly issues acquired away from them.
“It is a alternative. It is a resolution,” Jaylen Brown mentioned when requested what occurred within the second half. “Simply come out and play with a special mentality. We got here out too cool. It was simply virtually like we had been simply enjoying a regular-season sport. It is the Japanese Convention finals. Like, come on.
“We have to play with extra depth than we did immediately. We have simply acquired to be higher, together with me.”
If there was one thing that might have shifted from the primary half to the second, it did. Boston had 15 assists and 5 turnovers within the first half; it had seven assists and 10 turnovers within the second. On the opposite facet, Miami took a lot better care of the ball, going from 9 assists and 11 turnovers within the first half to 11 assists and 4 turnovers within the second.
The Celtics dominated factors within the paint within the first half, outscoring the Warmth 40-16. Within the second half, Miami edged Boston 24-22. There was the same change in second-chance factors, for which Boston had an 11-2 edge within the first half in contrast with a 10-7 benefit for Miami within the second.
Sprinkle within the Warmth capturing 16-for-31 from 3-point vary on the night time and Boston discovered itself, for the second straight collection, stumbling out of TD Backyard trailing 1-0 to an underdog.
“The one factor we have to modify to is choosing up our physicality and enjoying some rattling protection,” Marcus Good mentioned. “That is the one factor they switched. They did not change something from the primary half that they weren’t doing, they only upped their physicality and that is it.
“There’s nothing tactical, X’s and O’s, it is simply come out and guard your yard. They scored 46 in that third, and so they acquired going, and so they made us pay, and so they led into the fourth quarter.”
And whereas Boston’s protection price the workforce dearly within the third quarter, it was the offense that fell aside within the fourth. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla tends to make observations and changes with an offensive mindset — in contrast to predecessor Ime Udoka, who would sometimes lean into extra bodily and defense-oriented lineups. Mazzulla sometimes goes the opposite approach: smaller, faster lineups with extra spacing and extra capturing.
Going to order guard Payton Pritchard in each halves Wednesday night time over Grant Williams, who was a key a part of final yr’s playoff rotation however has disappeared this yr, was a primary instance. It additionally exhibits up each time Mazzulla explains what’s giving Boston points in a sport, his solutions sometimes centering on issues on offense.
After Boston’s robust ball motion within the first half disappeared down the stretch, with the workforce failing to make a area objective over greater than 4 minutes late within the fourth quarter, Good — who had 10 assists within the first half and only one within the second — mentioned Boston acquired “antsy,” attempting too laborious to make performs individually fairly than collectively.
Nobody exemplified that higher than Jayson Tatum, who had 30 factors however did not take a shot within the fourth. He made three of his 4 turnovers inside the ultimate three minutes, together with on back-to-back possessions with below two minutes to go.
“I turned the ball over, threw it to Jimmy,” Tatum mentioned, referring to his turnover out of a Mazzulla timeout with just below three minutes remaining. “That was on me. Doing a shot pretend, I simply acquired sped up a bit bit. Simply acquired to decelerate a bit bit in these moments.”
Mazzulla selected to not name any timeouts in that disastrous third quarter, reviving a season-long storyline round his penchant for letting his gamers type issues out themselves.
“I referred to as two within the first quarter,” Mazzulla mentioned when requested about his lack of timeouts within the third.
When requested once more, he mentioned, “Do not name two within the first quarter. Reserve it for the third-quarter run.”
Good defended Mazzulla, saying it isn’t on the coach to bail the gamers out.
“Joe is actual large on loads of occasions not bailing us out on stuff after we’re enjoying like s—,” Good mentioned. “So, we have to look ourselves within the mirror. Joe can name a timeout, after which what? We come out and do the identical factor? It is on us.
“Joe and his teaching workers, they put in loads of work to provide you with a sport plan and put us in the proper spots to succeed, however they don’t seem to be on the market enjoying. We have to return collectively and we have to begin serving to one another out on each ends.”