At halftime on Wednesday night, the Celtics were in the lead by nine points. At the end of the third quarter, the Celtics were behind by 12 points.
It wasn’t nice, but the Heat beat the Celtics badly in the third quarter and held off a late surge from Boston to win Game 1 on the road, 123-116.
The Celtics won’t lose their cool, that much is certain. In the previous series, they lost both Games 1 and 5 at home. However, the Celtics were able to join the 20% of historical teams who were still able to win series despite being down 3-2 for the second consecutive year. For this Celtics team, a 1-0 series deficit is obviously not a calamity.
But that’s basically where the good vibes stop. In the first game of the series, the Heat played with more vigour and did a better job of following their strategy than Boston.
Therefore, it was odd, to say the least, when Celtics first-year head coach Joe Mazzulla painted a positive picture of his team’s play after the team’s defeat by a score of 123–116.
Mazzulla interrupted a question regarding whether the Celtics may not have had the correct attitude going into this game with, “We won three out of the four quarters,” “We had a bad quarter. as a result of our lack of urgency. So no.”
It does seem like the coach had a strategy when he stepped to the microphone since Mazzulla opened his news conference with the “won three out of four quarters” declaration as well.
That will likely be the main takeaway from Mazzulla’s extended postgame news conference, which lasted more than seven minutes. After yet another home playoff defeat, nobody in Boston wants to hear that kind of message. This playoffs, the Celtics are presently 4-4 at home.
The message is straightforward given that Mazzulla was inspired by the team’s start and performance in the game. However, it also ignores how badly the Celtics were defeated in that particular quarter, as the Heat established a team record with 46 points in the third.
By two points in the first quarter, seven in the second, and five in the fourth, the Celtics prevailed. The third quarter, which the Heat won by 21 points, proved to be the game’s deciding factor.
Mazzulla chose not to call timeouts during the Heat assault in an effort to try to stop the momentum that had obviously swung in Miami’s favour. Instead, he mostly watched from the sidelines. Mazzulla has a sensitive side, so when a reporter questioned him about the lack of timeouts in the third quarter, he retaliated.
“I called two [timeouts] in the first quarter,” Mazzulla said.
“Mazzulla cynically said, “Don’t call two in the first quarter,” in response to the reporter’s precise question concerning the third quarter. Keep it until the stretch in the third quarter.
In contrast, when the Celtics went on a 7-0 run to open the fourth quarter, Erik Spoelstra promptly called a timeout to limit the damage and allow his team to gather itself. When Spoelstra called the timeout, the Heat were up by five points; four minutes later, they were up by nine.
In favour of his coach, Marcus Smart minimised the shortage of timeouts.
“Joe’s really big on not bailing us out on stuff when we’re playing like [crap] a lot of the time.” Therefore, we must examine ourselves in the mirror, Smart added. “If Joe calls a timeout, what happens next? We go outside and act in the same way? Therefore, we are responsible.
Mazzulla made a rather basic list of things he would have hoped to see from his squad during that third quarter.
“Uh, take better pictures. Avoid turning it over. Don’t foul either. Keep the offensive rebounds coming. And don’t stop using threes, he said.
What was Mazzulla’s overall opinion of the third quarter? He said that the Celtics released the rope. He was naturally questioned as to why they released the rope.
“I’m not sure. The question is excellent, he remarked. “We need to work it out, but it resulted from our attention to detail. However, we were ready for the match. Our boys went out and played because we were ready for them. After that, we need to improve on the third quarter.
Overall, Mazzulla didn’t have much to say, but his famous “three out of four quarters” quote will undoubtedly be heard over the next two days in Boston as the Celtics prepare for a pivotal Game 2 on Friday night at home.