The Celtics looked like garbage Sunday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, falling to the Heat 128-102 in a disappointing performance that had everyone and their grandma questioning Boston’s heart.
NBA insider Brian Windhorst was among those who took aim at the Celtics, who now trail Miami 3-0 in the best-of-seven series, going so far as to label Boston’s effort “soft” Monday morning during an appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up.”
“Boy, that Celtics locker room, ice cold, ice cold in the Miami heat,” Windhorst said. “I gotta tell you, this was a combination of things. Whenever you see some sort of event like this happen, where there’s a huge upset, it’s not just one thing. The Celtics’ defense, particularly year over year, where they were a year ago when they were the second-best defensive team in the playoffs, they were so soft in this game, and they’ve been trending this way the whole postseason. They’re 10th amongst playoff teams in defense this year, and boy, did you feel it.
“They were soft on their switches. They were soft on their closeouts. They let the Miami players sorta make the first move. And it was compounded by the fact that the Heat were feeling great offensively. Their ball was moving. I think they had 12 assists in the first quarter alone. The ball was all over the place. (The Celtics) can’t keep up. You add in some momentum, you add in the crowd and it snowballed very quickly. As significant of a beatdown as I can remember seeing in an NBA playoff game of this caliber.”
The Celtics entered the series as heavy favorites after defeating the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in the first two rounds of the NBA playoffs. The Heat have been the much better team, though, taking the first two games at TD Garden in Boston before completely demolishing the Celtics in Game 3 at Kaseya Center in Miami.
It’ll take a miracle for Boston to mount a comeback, especially with head coach Joe Mazzulla admitting after Sunday’s lopsided loss that there’s some sort of disconnect in the Celtics’ locker room. The Heat have shown tremendous fight, both in this series and the postseason in general, and look worthy of a spot in the NBA Finals, whereas the Celtics should be kicking themselves for collapsing it jarring fashion.