Celtics implode in Game 7
C's can't hit the three in loss to Miami
To paraphrase the late Dennis Green, the Celtics are who some observers thought they were.
In the end, the Celts were a team that was far too reliant on the threepoint shot to be championship caliber. They got away with a clang-fest (7-for-35 in threes) in their dramatic Game 6 win in Miami that was pulled out of the fire by a great Derrick White moment. But that's all it was — a moment that just staved off elimination in Game 6 by a Miami Heat team that few people gave a chance against the more talented Celtics.
In Monday's massacre, however, the Celts got what they usually deserve when they shoot badly from three-point land. On the strength of 9-for42 shooting on threes, the Celts fell to the Heat with a whimper, losing 103-84 in the mother of all buzzkills. The final score was charitable.
Asked if his team relied too much on the three, coach Joe Mazzulla remained defiant to the end.
"No," said the coach flatly.
There might be a few folks who'd debate the coach on that point this morning.
In an attempt to make history in Game 7 at the Garden, the Celtics' implosion would have made the Roy siblings proud. All 150 teams that had gone down 0-3 in a best-of-seven series in NBA history had failed to come back and win the series. Now you can make it 151, thanks to a no-show night of shooting by the Celts that produced an end to their season, coming up short once again for their quest for Banner 18.
This time, the Celtics could not blame the Garden fans or the atmosphere. At 8:01 p.m., a half hour before tip-off, the crowd started its first, boisterous "Let's-Go-Celtics" chant. The hype video that spliced the Red Sox' 2004 comeback against the New York Yankees with the Celts' big moments in this series got the crowd even more revved up. Kevin Millar did his thing on the Jumbotron. The fans were ready to blow the roof off the Garden.
None of it mattered. Jayson Tatum hurt his ankle on the first possession of the game and with one of the top-10 NBA players hampered, the Celts' other top-10 player was awful. Jaylen Brown, who famously challenged the fans in the last series against Philadelphia, committed eight turnovers in an absolutely brutal performance. He was 1-for-9 from behind the stripe and, at the start of the fourth quarter, he had more turnovers than the entire Heat team.
Give full marks to Jimmy Butler (28 points), Caleb Martin (26 points) and the Heat. It was a daunting atmosphere in which to spit out what would have been a bitter pill to swallow. They stared it all down with some legendary gumption. The Heat did not just win Game 7 on the parquet, they took three out of the four games on Causeway Street, just as their South Florida ice brethren the Panthers did to the Bruins earlier this spring.
But given all that, the Heat were there for the taking. They opened the game not much better than their generous hosts. They started out shooting 2-for-11 from the floor. But Miami snapped out of it. The Celtics never did.
"I thought we were tight. I thought we played tight," said Malcolm Brogdon, who tried and failed to play through a damaged tendon in his forearm. "We played that way at both ends of the ball. I thought Miami
played the opposite. I thought they played loose. I thought they executed on the defensive end and offensively I thought they were poised. They weren't rushed, they weren't nervous. And I thought Jimmy did what he was supposed to do."
No one on the Celtics did, however. They chunked it in the first half, and they never recovered. They missed their first 11 trey attempts and were 4-from21 behind the stripe. When they were clanging it from downtown, they giving the Heat the ball. They committed seven first-half turnovers, three by Brown.
Meanwhile, Tatum (14 points) was making as little impact as possible for a superstar in this league. On the game's first possession, he was slow to get up after rolling his left ankle after being fouled by Gabe Vincent. Tatum, who kept the Celts' season alive with 51 points in their Game 7 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, had just seven points in the first half and missed his only three attempt.
The Celtics failed to gain any momentum coming out of the half and it was a fait accompli midway through the third quarter.
Now they're left again to figure out what this team is missing. It is clear that something is.