Orlando,FL—The Boston Celtics have a lot to figure out before they play game three against Miami Heat Saturday night.
The Heat took the Celtics completely out of rhythm with a combination of its 2-3 zone and in your face ball pressure. Miami mixed in full-court pressure which threw Boston out of whack at the start of game two.
The Heat was down 60-43 before a pair of jumpers in the final minute of the second quarter cut the deficit to 13 points.
“It felt like we were down 30,” Spoelstra said.
The Boston Celtics seemed like they had the game under control early. They had a 17 point lead in the second quarter and cruising, they was getting to the cup with ease. The Heat weather the storm and went on a 20-4 run in the third quarter and took a seven-point lead into the final quarter.
With less than two minutes left on the clock, Boston played well on defense until Goran Dragic hit an off-the-dribble trey over Daniel Theis to give Miami a 100-95 lead. Dragic hit another jumper over Theis on the next possession. He finished with 25 points on 10-for-19 shooting with five assists. And the Heat pulled the game out 106-101 over the Celtics in Orlando.
“Goran, you know, their defense is really good,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s really good, they can flatten you out. And sometimes that’s what is needed. For some games, you just need to create something out of nothing, and Goran was able to do that down the stretch.”
The Celtics had a chance to win the game, Miami missed 10 of its first 12 shots in the final quarter, and the Celtics went on a 15-2 burst. But at the end it was Miami who hit the crucial shots in the clutch. The Heat now have a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals thanks to late-game play from guard Dragic.
Boston’s Jaylen Brown hit a pair of clutch 3s, but missed one in the corner that would have tied it with 15 seconds left.
The frustration seemed to boil over in the second half in which Boston made just 11 shots, committed 12 turnovers (4 by Smart) and allowed Miami to go 15 for 23 on 2-point shots.
“We gotta be together for 48 minutes and we’ve yet to do that,” Brown said after the game. “We need everybody to be all-in and to continue to bring that energy. I’m ready to come out for Game 3, that’s what it’s all about. Ups, downs, you fight.
Kemba Walker was ice cold in the third quarter, despite playing every second of it. As a team, the Celtics went 4-for-12 in those 12 minutes, and the Heat forced seven turnovers.
“I know everybody wants to talk about a scheme,” Spoelstra said. “For us, it’s disposition, it’s effort, making tough plays, making multiple efforts, regardless of the scheme. And we were more committed there in the second half.”
Point guard Kemba Walker led the Celtics with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, while forward Jayson Tatum chipped in 21 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block.
Boston coach Brad Stevens said “we pulled apart and we didn’t play well” in the third quarter, insisting that it wasn’t about the zone. He said players were “emotional” after the loss.”