MIAMI — The Boston Celtics left their locker room at halftime on Tuesday night to take control of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
But then the third quarter happened. Miami won 118-107 to get the game after the Heat beat the Celtics 39-14 and used their physicality to send Boston into a death spiral of turnovers and unforced errors. Best first game – seven things.
“The bottom line is, it just shows us what we’re capable of whenever we’re worried about stopping, getting into the open, getting to the free throw line, all those good things,” said Jimmy Butler, who led the way for Miami with him in the playoffs. In his latest performance, he had a game-high 41 points in 41 minutes — including 17 in the decisive third quarter — with nine rebounds and five assists.
“It just reminds me that we can do it. I see it on this piece of paper. I survived. So I hope we do it every quarter from now on.”
This is a very high standard. Miami beat Boston in the third quarter, and the Celtics not only had their worst 12 minutes in the playoffs, but one of Boston’s worst quarters ever.
“[We] “They got tough and physical,” said Celtics head coach Ime Udoka. “They looked like they came in the second half and wanted to be physical and aggressive on both ends, and they did.”
Of course they did.
Here’s a sample of the disastrous statistics mined for the quarter:
The Celtics went 2-for-15 from the field, their worst shooting percentage in the past four seasons, regular season or playoffs.
After Boston went 15 of 28 in the first half, the Celtics shot 1 of 12 in the third quarter.
Boston’s 7:7 on the first basket in the third quarter was the Celtics’ longest shot-free quarter of a season.
The last time Boston spent at least seven minutes in the quarterfinals scoring was in Game 3 of the 2002 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Detroit Pistons. The final score of that game? It’s 66-64 in favor of Boston.
Jayson Tatum had six turnovers in the third quarter alone, while Boston had eight turnovers — as many as the other three quarters combined. The Heat scored 12 of 19 points on Boston turnovers in the third quarter.
All of which is enough to say that despite losing the first, second and fourth quarters, Miami is 1-0 in the series.
“The players were really disappointed at halftime,” Heat coach Eric Spoelstra said. “I hardly need to say anything. Everyone’s disappointed with our defensive effort and focus. But look, this is a really good team and we’re playing against it. So it’s not just us saying, hey, We have to do better. They put a lot of pressure on our defense and when you get to that level, that’s what you expect.”
The Heat needed this reversal after the Celtics dominated the first half with relative ease. After seven games against the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks — Boston ended the series on a strong note at home in Game 7 — the Celtics appeared to be carrying that momentum to the end of the game. first half. The Celtics led 62-54 in the first half and Tatum led by 21 points. They shot 59 percent from the field.
In the first half, Tatum had 16 paint points — tied for the most in any half of his career — and Boston beat Miami 42-24 in the paint.
But just as Tatum’s performance was emblematic of Boston’s strong first half, his terrifying third quarter was emblematic of the Celtics’ complete collapse after halftime. Aside from those six disastrous turnovers in the third quarter, Tatum had two points on 1-of-7 shooting in the second half. Miami’s three straight pick turnovers turned into layups or dunks as part of a 22-2 start to the second half that kept the Heat ahead forever.
“I think obviously I don’t want to flip that damn ball over and be like that,” Tatum said, “but I guess throughout the game, things are going to happen and they’re going to keep running. That’s what they did.
“Over the course of the playoffs, we’ve done a good job responding to the post-timeout runs and things like that. But for whatever reason, we didn’t do that today. I’ll be the first to say I’ll take it Human responsibility. I have to lead better. I have to play better, especially in those moments. I’m just looking forward to the response from the next game.”
Boston is looking to respond with a Marcus Smart lineup in Game 2. Smart gave a rousing speech from the bench, trying to turn things around after an ugly third quarter, but it was all he could do with a sprained right midfoot.
Not only did Boston lose Smart, who was questioned to play all day, but also Al Horford, who unexpectedly entered NBA health and safety protocols hours before kickoff, and at least not before the game. May return to 3.
“We have to be more disciplined,” Jaylen Brown said. “Obviously, we’re not ready without Ayr. We’re definitely not ready without Ayr and Smart. That’s no excuse. We have to get better.
“We still controlled the game in the first half. We lost control in the third quarter. We had to get better. Got to play better on both sides of the ball and be more disciplined. We fouled too much,” we said. Let the game slip away from us. This is the story. “
ESPN statistics and information contributed to this report.