The Boston Celtics lost Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat 118-107. After leading by nine points at halftime, the Celtics were outscored 39-20 in the third quarter and never recovered.
In the postgame press conference, Celtics assistant coach Joe Mazzulla put a strange spin on the loss. He said that the Celtics were actually the better team and that they just didn’t execute in the fourth quarter.
“I thought we were the better team tonight,” Mazzulla said. “We just didn’t execute in the fourth quarter. We had our opportunities, but we just didn’t make the plays.”
Mazzulla’s comments were met with some skepticism from fans and analysts. Many people felt that the Celtics were simply outplayed by the Heat in the fourth quarter.
he Celtics’ Game Plan
The Celtics came into Game 1 with a clear game plan. They wanted to slow the game down and take advantage of their size and athleticism. They also wanted to get Jimmy Butler in foul trouble.
The Celtics were successful in executing their game plan in the first half. They held the Heat to 40% shooting and forced them to turn the ball over 10 times. Butler picked up his third foul with 6:22 left in the second quarter and had to sit for the rest of the half.
The Heat’s Comeback
The Heat came out of halftime with a different energy. They started to make shots and they got Butler back in the game. The Heat outscored the Celtics 39-20 in the third quarter and took a 12-point lead into the fourth.
The Celtics tried to make a run in the fourth quarter, but they couldn’t get over the hump. The Heat’s defense was too good and they made too many plays down the stretch.
The Celtics’ Biggest Problems
The Celtics had a number of problems in Game 1. They couldn’t get their offense going in the fourth quarter and they turned the ball over too much. They also struggled to defend the Heat’s pick-and-roll offense.
The Celtics’ offense was stagnant in the fourth quarter because they couldn’t get Jayson Tatum going. Tatum was held to just 12 points on 5-of-17 shooting. The Celtics also didn’t get enough production from their bench in the fourth quarter.
The Celtics turned the ball over 17 times in Game 1. That was the most turnovers they’ve had in a playoff game since 2018. The Heat took advantage of the Celtics’ turnovers and turned them into 19 points.
The Celtics also struggled to defend the Heat’s pick-and-roll offense. The Heat were able to get their big men involved in the pick-and-roll and they were able to get open looks from three-point range.
What the Celtics Need to Do to Win Game 2
The Celtics need to make some adjustments if they want to win Game 2. They need to get their offense going in the fourth quarter and they need to take care of the ball. They also need to find a way to defend the Heat’s pick-and-roll offense.
The Celtics have the talent to win this series, but they need to play better if they want to advance to the NBA Finals.