Stop us if you heard this before: The Boston Celtics couldn’t come back from an early hole on Sunday.
Boston fell 130-124 to Miami at TD Garden despite Evan Fournier’s best game in a Celtics uniform in which he posted 30 points and eight assists, and a solid performance from Jayson Tatum, who had 29 points, six assists and five rebounds.
The Heat dropped 79 points on the Celtics in the first half alone, but even a 40-point fourth quarter wasn’t enough to get Boston back into it. There isn’t just a switch Boston can turn on to solve its slow start issues and rely on that to win the game, especially against a team like Miami.
They aren’t talented or healthy enough.
“I guess the answer is, it’s a choice. I don’t think that we’re necessarily good enough to just switch on, like all right let’s play,” Tatum said during his postgame media availability.
“Certain games here and there, we’ve done that in a second half and have been able to win. Obviously today we dug ourselves too deep in a hole. Gave ourselves a chance, we’re always gonna do that. But you know, I know that we can do better, do more, especially in the beginning of the games. A little bit more toughness and play faster. Because when we get stops in the second half, play fast, play to our advantage we look pretty good. So we just got to start like that.”
Fournier, meanwhile, offers an interesting perspective as a newcomer who — for the first time in his career — is on a team with real potential to be a contender. The key word here is potential.
He still has a lot to play for, even if the rest of the team has checked out.
“When you just fix things just by being more aggressive and turning it up, it just shows a lack of physicality in my opinion, and that’s something we can’t have,” Fournier said after the game. “We need to start from the very first minute to the very last one. And just talking about it is not enough, we just have to do it. In many games now we’ve kind of started slow and we had to spend a lot of energy just trying to come back and win the game. But if we don’t put ourselves in a bad position from the start and play ahead then we can beat anybody.”
That last statement probably is true, if based only on the best flashes we’ve seen from this team.
But with just a handful of games left in the regular season, let’s see if “anybody” includes the Heat for the second game of the miniseries Tuesday.