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The door was wide open for the Boston Celtics to make a return trip to the NBA Finals, and the Miami Heat slammed it shut. After watching the second-seeded Celtics rally from a 3-0 series deficit, the No. 8 Heat capitalized on yet another woeful Boston postseason home performance en route to a 103-84 victory in Monday’s winner-take-all Game 7.

The Heat came through in the clutch. Boston did not. Miami went 14-for-28 from three-point land and never let the Celtics mount a serious rally. The Celtics also self-destructed with a miserable shooting night, making nine of 42 three-pointers. For the fourth time in the series, the Celtics played with little passion and showed that nobody could take over a game.

The Boston Celtics were embarrassed again at home

The Boston Celtics and their fans went through quite the rollercoaster of an Eastern Conference Finals against the Heat. Despite being nearly double-digit favorites in the first two games at home, the Celtics dropped both games. Boston held double-digit leads in the second half of both games but wilted as the Jimmy Butler-led Heat took over.

Game 3 in Miami was Boston’s biggest embarrassment of the series. The Celtics flat-out didn’t show up as Miami manhandled them, winning 128-102, to take a 3-0 series lead. With their backs against the wall, the Celtics won three straight to set up a do-or-die Game 7 in front of their home crowd.

Things got off to a rough start for Boston. On the opening possession, Celtics star Jayson Tatum rolled his ankle and hobbled his way through the remainder of the game. The Celtics scored 15 first-quarter points and found themselves trailing 52-41 at halftime.

With Tatum “a shell of myself,” as he told reporters after the game, nobody picked up the slack. Instead, the Celtics misfired on 33 of their 42 three-point attempts and saw Jaylen Brown turn the ball over an alarming eight times in the 19-point loss.

Brown was blunt after the game.

“We failed,” Brown told reporters postgame. “I failed. We let the whole city down.”

Losing is one thing, but playing without that fight is tough to swallow. Game 3 was the perfect example, and Game 7 wasn’t far behind.

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Brown has disappeared in the last two postseasons. Tatum, who publicly announced he was one of the greatest players in the world, has been as inconsistent as anyone in the playoffs. While it’s easy to say the Celtics have reached the conference finals in five of the last seven years, it means nothing other than they can’t get over the hump. They have zero titles and have been to the championship round once in that stretch. They lost to a team this year that doesn’t even come close to having the talent Boston does.

While Brown has one year left on his current deal, he’s eligible for a supermax contract worth nearly $300 million after being named second-team All-NBA this year. Is Brown worth it? Does he even want to be in Boston long term?

He and Tatum are arguably the NBA’s best tandem, but they have both shown they don’t always show up on the big stage. Brown was especially bad in Game 7 Monday. With Tatum out, the opportunity was there for him to take over for the Celtics. Instead, he shot 8-for-23 (1-for-9 from three-point land) and had those eight turnovers.

Tatum doesn’t go without blame. Although he toughed it out on one ankle in Game 7, he missed a wide-open layup early in the third quarter that would have cut the Celtics deficit to eight points. Instead, the Heat rebounded and hit a three, completing a five-point swing. If his injury is to blame for the missed layup, he shouldn’t have been out there.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla has also been heavily criticized during the postseason. It’s tough to believe the Celtics front office will pay him to go away and admit they erred in removing the interim tag as early as they did. Mazzulla’s postgame schtick gets old with his snippy, one-word answers, and if the 2023-24 Celtics stumble at any point next season, questions will absolutely arise about whether or not he’s the right coach to lead this team.

The Celtics have to address plenty of questions about what went wrong this year, and they’ll have many more about what to do next season.