The Boston Celtics have their backs against the wall. They came into the series with the Miami Heat as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and head to the NBA Finals. Boston finds itself down 2-0 in the series, but the Celtics might just be getting the boost they need to turn things around.
The Boston Celtics have had an ugly series against the Miami Heat
It’s become a pattern for the Boston Celtics. Build up a double-digit lead and watch the Miami Heat rally back and win. It’s happened both games and the red-hot Heat have responded. In the series opener, the Celtics had a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter and somehow let it get away.
In Game 2, Boston took a 17-point lead late in the second quarter. The Heat took charge in the second half by outscoring the Celtics by 20 points in the third quarter. The Heat went on to win and how holds a 2-0 series lead heading into tonight’s Game 3.
Jimmy Butler knows his team has been resilient, but he also knows the Heat can’t be digging themselves a deep hole every game. “We like to make it hard on ourselves,” Butler said after Game 2. “We like being down double-digits and being the comeback kids.”
Frustration has caught up with the Boston Celtics
After the Boston Celtics had their second collapse of the series Thursday night, frustration set in. According to multiple reports, there was a lot of yelling and screaming in the Celtics’ locker room after the game. Some tried to downplay the incident after the loss.
“We’re frustrated,” said Jayson Tatum, according to ESPN. “But that’s team sports. Not supposed to be happy we’re down 0-2. But that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Just talking about the game. It’s cool.” Kemba Walker also said it was no big deal. “It was nothing,” Walker said. “It was nothing.”
Sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic that Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown got into a heated exchange. “Smart stormed into the Celtics postgame locker room saying that other players needed to be held accountable and not simply point the finger toward him when things are going wrong,” Charania reported. “As Smart continued and his voice grew louder, sources said Brown snapped back and shouted that Celtics players must stay together and that their actions must come as a team, not individually, and that Smart needed to cool off.”
Gordon Hayward’s return could boost the Celtics
The Celtics have been without Gordon Hayward for more than a month and they could certainly use him for Game 3. Hayward has been sidelined with an ankle injury. He was listed as doubtful for Game 2 and didn’t play. According to ESPN, the Celtics are optimistic he could play Saturday night.
Hayward has had a strong season for the Celtics this year. He’s averaged 17.5 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 52 games this season. On Friday, the Celtics upgraded him from doubtful to questionable.
Hayward was injured in the opener of Boston’s first playoff series against the Philadelphia 76ers. He suffered a severe right ankle sprain and left the ‘bubble’ to rehab. He has since returned and could be just what the Celtics need to get over the hump against the Miami Heat.