BOSTON — After lackluster closeouts of their first two series in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Boston Celtics dropped Game One at home to the Miami Heat in the conference finals on Wednesday night.
Despite a nine-point lead at halftime and a hot start from their offense, the Celtics lost the third quarter by 21 points and never cut the lead to fewer than four the rest of the game.
In a Thursday episode of the Locked On Sports Today podcast, John Karalis of Locked On Celtics joined host Kainani Stevens to break down what happened in Boston and whether it’s a sign of trouble in the series for the Celtics.
“The Celtics once again had things under control, and once again they let go of the rope,” Karalis said. “That’s a consistent problem with the Celtics. We know that when they’re up, you can never count on them finishing a game, because they have a tendency to do this.”
Though Boston went down 12 going into the final period, they had multiple chances to take back control of the game, including a stretch in which the Heat didn’t score for about three minutes.
“They went from ‘we can’t get any stops, we’re trading baskets’ to ‘neither of us are hitting shots,’ and they couldn’t complete their comeback,” Karalis said.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 52 points on 50 percent shooting, but also turned the ball over 11 times combined. It wasn’t enough to overcome a Miami team that shot 54 percent from the field and 52 percent from deep.
Heat star Jimmy Butler had 35 points but shot just 48 percent from the field and missed a couple shots in the paint late to give Boston an opening.
“I don’t even think this was a Playoff Jimmy. This was really good Jimmy. Playoff Jimmy would have dropped 50 in this game,” Karalis said. “You got the outlier shooting game out of the way right away, so you come in and steal home court without the ‘Jimmy Game’ right away.”