The Miami Heat (1-1) suffered an embarrassing 127-102 loss to the Boston Celtics in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday, May 19. Making matters worse, Miami’s starting power forward, P.J. Tucker, exited the game in the third quarter with a left knee contusion.
After the rough defeat, Heat’s head coach Erik Spoelstra discussed the status of Tucker’s injury. “Ask him, he says he’s good to go,” Spoelstra said. “We’ll just have to see tomorrow. I’ll talk to the trainers.”
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Tucker is not just one of the toughest players on the Heat’s roster, but in the entire NBA. However, NBA Insider Chris Haynes’ report on the veteran’s injury seemed far more worrisome than what Spoelstra provided, noting that the forward will need to undergo further testing before any decisions are made for Game 3.
Haynes tweeted on Thursday night, “Sources: P.J. Tucker sustained the injury early in the first quarter and attempted to play through it. With a short turnaround in this series and the matchup problems Boston presents, an absent Tucker would be devastating for Miami.”
There’s little doubt that if the Heat needed to continue on without Tucker, their defense would take a major blow. In the early minutes of Game 2, Tucker scored five points, finishing 2-of-6 from the field and four rebounds. When the 37-year-old veteran officially exited the game in the third quarter, the Heat were already facing an insurmountable Celtics lead, down 96-71.
Prior to his injury, Tucker was averaging 8.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 2.1 assists, throughout the Heat’s 12 postseason games thus far. He was shooting 54.7% from the field and 47% on threes. But with the return of Celtic’s starter Marcus Smart in Game 2, the 2022 NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, the Heat had no answer.
“They came out and hit us in the mouth and we didn’t know how to respond,” Heat center Bam Adebayo said during the postgame press conference.
Jimmy Butler Admitted The Celtics ‘Embarrassed Us’ at Home
Heat star Jimmy Butler led the team in scoring with 29 points, but it wasn’t enough to make Game 2 even slightly competitive. During the postgame media conference, the six-time All-Star didn’t sugarcoat how he and his team performed.
“We damn sure didn’t guard anybody,” Butler said. “I don’t like to move on from this because it has to hurt. They tried to embarrass us. They did embarrass us.”
Spoelstra didn’t have a lot of excuses either. “You have to credit Boston… They played really well on both ends… We know what they’re capable of defensively. They’ve done this to come very good offenses. I’m sure they were not happy with us putting up 118 in Game 1. They came out and were very disruptive and got us out of our normal rhythm and flow. And the shotmaking on the other end… it’s very hard to overcome.”
The Celtics drilled their first 20 free throws and closed 20-of-40 from beyond the arc. Miami Herald’s Anthony Chiang reported, “The Heat allowed 135.1 points per 100 possessions tonight. Miami’s worst single-game defensive rating of the season.”
Heat/Celtics Game 3 Takes Place in Boston
The Heat were perfect at home during the playoffs prior to Game 2 against the Celtics. For Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Heat will travel to Boston. Here’s the full schedule for the Heat/Celtics series:
Game 3: Saturday, May 21, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 4: Monday, May 23, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Game 5*: May 25: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 6*: May 27, TD Garden, 8:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 7*: May 29: FTX Arena, 8:30 p.m., ESPN