Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens called it an “emotional” reaction, while Jaylen Brown noted it was due to “emotions flying around.” And Kemba Walker called it “nothing.”
The Celtics, though, clearly were frustrated after their Game 2 collapse against the Miami Heat as they entered the locker room after the 106-101 loss.
And who can blame them? Boston coughed up a 17-point advantage before falling into a 2-0 series deficit on Thursday, the second consecutive game they’ve lost after compiling a double-digit lead.
And while everyone outside the locker room was eager to hear what happened, those inside didn’t give it much thought.
“It was nothing. It was nothing,” Walker told reporters, as seen on NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “It won?t (impact Game 3). Ain?t nothing happened in the locker room. I don?t know what you?re talking about, to be honest. We?ll be fine.”
“We’re 0-2. We’re frustrated,” Tatum said. “I mean what happened after the game, what happened in the locker room got to stay in the locker room. … So, that’s that.”
Brown further explained how he saw the outburst, reportedly centering around Marcus Smart, as “passion” and “emotion.” He even expressed that maybe it was a good thing for a Celtics team who needs to find its way to four wins in five games.
“I think so. I think there’s a beauty to it,” Brown said. “A lot of people are passionate, emotional. I’m one of those people. I recognize it as that. I recognize it as emotion, passion. I don’t recognize it as nothing else … So, we got to express that same passion next game, for 48 minutes. Period.”
Here are some other notes from Thursday’s Celtics-Heat game:
— The loss was in part due to yet another terrible third quarter. The Celtics took a 13-point lead, 60-47, into halftime before holding a 15-point lead with just over 10 minutes left in the frame.
Boston, though, was outscored by 20 points in the quarter, 16 of which came in the final six-plus minutes, as Miami took a seven-point lead into the fourth.
Walker summed it up best.
“They outplayed us. They outplayed us. It was really unacceptable on our behalf,” Walker said. “It was just a really bad quarter for us. We didn’t continue to do the things that we did to get us up, to get us that lead. I think we got kind of comfortable and those guys, they took advantage of it. They played hard. They played really hard. They played a lot harder than us. They wanted it.”
— There were multiple circumstances where the Heat just seemed to want it more. Whether that be by forcing Boston into costly fourth-quarter turnovers (it had 20 turnovers in total) or Miami grabbing late offensive rebounds, it went a long way in the win.
“That’s on us. They do a great job at flying in,” Walker said of the Heat holding a 11-6 advantage on the offensive glass. “We got to do a better job at getting on their bodies.”
Tatum added: “That’s on me. I didn’t rebound nearly as good as I normally have been. You can’t expect other people to get it, you got to get it… I got to rebound way better than I did tonight.”
— Brown did put things in perspective, and with a more positive light, after the loss.
“… Obviously, we wanted to win this game and we didn’t, but the series is far from over,” Brown said. “We got to get ready for Game 3. This is how it goes. (In) families there’s up and downs, there’s fights and there’s emotions, and that’s exactly what we are, a family. We hold each other accountable and we got to do what it takes to come out, execute, next game.”
Boston will face Miami during Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday, which is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.