The Boston Celtics find themselves down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference Finals after letting a golden opportunity slip in Game 2.
After leading by as many as 17 points late in the first half, the Celtics were outworked, outmuscled, and outplayed in the third quarter as the Heat won the period 37-17 to take seven-point lead into the final frame, before grinding out the win.
TAKEAWAYS: Heat's second-half defence sparks comeback win
The mood in the Celtics locker room post-game was one of frustration, with guard Marcus Smart reportedly heard getting into it with his teammates, according to ESPN's Malika Andrews.
Marcus Smart is screaming at someone in the Celtics locker room - or several people. The yelling continues as Smart exits the locker room, swearing.- Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) September 18, 2020
Despite the understandable frustration, Jayson Tatum says the team is keeping a level head, with Game 3 on the horizon.
"We're 0-2. I mean, we're frustrated. But that's team sports," Jayson Tatum said. "You're not supposed to be happy when you're down 0-2. Nothing out of the ordinary, just talking about the game. It's cool, got to get ready for the next one.
"We're not suppose to be happy down 0-2. Nothing out of the ordinary." - Jayson Tatum on the postgame locker room arguments #Celtics pic.twitter.com/xjLlNr0k7d- Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 18, 2020
Jaylen Brown, who recorded 21 points in the loss echoed Tatum's thoughts post-game, commending Smart's passion following the loss.
"Lot of emotions was flying around, obviously. Feel like we could've won, should've won, but we didn't. So it's a lot of emotions flying around. That's it," he said.
"He [Smart] plays with passion, he's full of fire, and that's what I love about him most, to be honest. He has that desire and that will and we need him to continue to have that."
"There's ups and downs with families all the time. But we embrace each other for who we are. And who Marcus is, I love him for it."
After scoring 26 points in Game 1, knocking down six 3-pointers, Smart was held to just 14 points and four assists in Game 2 on 5-of-13 shooting.
"There's ups and downs with families all the time. But we embrace each other for who we are." - Jaylen Brown on the locker room argument pic.twitter.com/X6xredlXL9- Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 18, 2020
The Heat reverted to their zone defence in Game 2, which visibly frustrated the Celtics as they committed 20 turnovers to the Heat's nine. Miami made them pay, quickly turning defence into offence as they converted those turnovers into 26 points.
Seven of those turnovers came in the third quarter and the Celtics couldn't muster much on the other end in response to the Heat, scoring just 17 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field (33.3%)
Turnovers aside, the Celtics have to do a better job stretching the Heat's defence, with coach Brad Stevens lamenting their effort on the offensive end.
"It's a hard zone to play against, we did play well against it in Game 1," Stevens said post-game.
"We played with way better pace than we did tonight, so we'll go back and look at it and figure out if it was a technical thing or a pace thing, or an execution thing or just a not as focused on the important stuff thing.
"....This isn't about zones and defences and offences and stuff like that, we just gotta be better."
The Celtics will look to bounce back in Game 3, set to tip-off Sunday, September 20 at 10:30 a.m. AEST on ESPN and NBA League Pass.
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