Even with Jimmy Butler sitting out the second half of the game due to knee swelling, the Celtics couldn’t gain control of the contest despite some second-half heroics from Jaylen Brown and an improved sense of urgency. Of course, as is usually the case when the Celtics lose, a large part of Boston’s struggles came from their inability to take care of the basketball. The team registered a total of 24 turnovers compared to Miami’s eight.
Speaking after the game, ESPN analyst Stephen A Smith held Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (who accounted for 13 of the team’s turnovers) accountable, noting how the team’s star duo has to play better, especially in such a high-stakes game late into the postseason.
“Ultimately, what it came down to was the turnovers and the inability of Jayson Tatum to get going; he finished shooting three-of-fourteen for the game. Him and Jaylen Brown combined, the two stars, combined for 13 turnovers. You can beat this Miami team playing that sloppily. You just can’t do it. But they did it tonight, and that’s why the Boston Celtics lost. That’s why the Miami Heat have reclaimed the lead in this series and regained home-court advantage,” Smith said.
Al Horford Keeping Faith in Celtics Stars
We’ve been here before; with the Celtics down 2-1 heading into game four, it was the same story in the second round against the Milwaukee Bucks. However, the Celtics need their star duo to step up and be counted, especially in the Eastern Conference Finals, with a chance to progress and challenge for an NBA championship on the line.
Luckily, despite the poor showing from Tatum, and Jekyll-and-Hyde performance from Brown, it appears that they still have the backing of their teammates, as the Celtics continue to hold out hope of their star wings figuring things out can taking over the remainder of the series.
After the game, Al Horford spoke about the Celtics’ young stars, noting how his faith in the pair is unwavering and that both of them have proven capable of bouncing back from poor performances throughout the season.
“I have the most confidence in my guys. Time and time again this year, you know, they figure it out. Jayson figures it out. Jaylen figures it out. Those guys are battle-tested, and I believe they’ll be fine,” Horford said following Boston’s game three loss at the TD Garden.
Jaylen Brown Takes Share of the Blame
Throughout the second half, Brown was Boston’s best offensive weapon, and once he got going, the Heat had no answer for him, especially when he was driving the lane and hunting mismatches with Tyler Herro. In 41 minutes of play, Brown notched 40 points, nine rebounds, one assist, one steal, one block, and seven turnovers, creating a striking juxtaposition when discussing his impact.
“Just be stronger. I did a s*** job today, taking care of the basketball. Just being stronger, driving, I’m going to keep being aggressive, I’m going to keep getting to the basket, keep doing what I do, but being stronger when I get in there.
They (the refs) let a lot of things go. Especially when I feel like I drive and get to the basket, I feel like there are two hands on me all the time, but I never get those hand-checking calls. I don’t make excuses; we’ll get better. I did a s*** job taking care of the basketball today. I’ve gotta do better,” Brown told the media after the Celtics’ 109-103 loss to the Heat.
The Celtics now find themselves under pressure to win game four before heading back to Miami in game five. Unlike their series against Milwaukee, Boston does not want to be dragged into a seven-game series, as Miami holds home-court advantage in the eventuality. So, now we wait to see how the Celtics respond to yet another disappointing loss on their home court – luckily, this is a team that usually bounces back in the face of adversity.