Smart left the locker room shouting, “You’re all on bulls -“, according to Andrews, and there were several clicks – like someone throwing things – coming from inside, while several players, at the – beyond Smart, cried.
As Smart left without speaking to reporters after being invited following Game 2 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals, those who spoke – Celtics coach Brad Stevens, guards Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown and the striker Jayson Tatum – all tried to downplay the situation.
“It was nothing,” Walker said. ” It was nothing. “
“The guys were emotional after a tough game,” Stevens said. “Hard loss. ”
“It’s really fair, a lot of emotions flying,” said Brown. “Obviously we think we could have won, we should have won, but we didn’t. So just a lot of flying emotions. That’s all. ”
“I don’t know who said that,” Tatum said. “I mean, we’re 0-2. I mean, we’re frustrated, but these are team sports.
“We’re not supposed to be happy that we lost 0-2, but nothing fancy, just talking about the game. It’s cool. We must prepare for the next one. ”
In order to prepare for the next one, the Celtics will need to figure out what happened to them in the fourth quarter of Game 1 and the third quarter of Game 2 – both of which saw Boston spitting out double-digit leads (14 points in Game 1 and 15 in game 2). Boston was beaten 37-17 in the third quarter Thursday night, disintegrating in a hail of misses and ugly turnovers.
“Dude, they beat us,” Walker said. “They upgraded us. This is really unacceptable to us. It was just a terrible shift for us.
“We didn’t keep doing the things we did to pick ourselves up and give ourselves that lead. I think we felt pretty comfortable and these guys took advantage of it. They played hard. They played very hard. They played a lot harder than us. They wanted it. ”
But even after that, the Celtics managed to stabilize again. And after a 15-2 run, Boston took a 94-89 lead with 4:25 remaining when Walker buried a 3-point, and it appeared the Celtics could survive their disastrous third quarter.
It wasn’t until it seemed like the Celtics had put the record straight, did they quickly fall apart again. Miami closed the game with a run of 17-7, nine in a row to drop from a two-lead to a seven-lead with just over a minute to go.
And while the Celtics managed to get back within earshot thanks to Brown’s 3 straight points, his triple match-equalizer potential from the corner in front of the Miami bench with 15.1 seconds remaining was long, and Jimmy Butler struck a pair of free throws to freeze the game for the Heat.
“We just have to be healthy, run and stay together,” Brown said. ” That’s all. We have confidence in our abilities, we have confidence in our game plan.
“We just didn’t perform it as far as we know we can. Two games, we failed towards the end of the game, and we are looking forward to Game 3. We have to find a way to win. . ”
The Celtics struggled against Miami’s zone defense in the second half, going 5 for 15 in the field and committing five turnovers. Boston has experienced similar issues throughout his seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal streak against the Toronto Raptors, a problem he barely managed to survive after playing a few games he probably should have won.
Now, having done so in the first two games of this series, the Celtics find themselves two games away from elimination against a team from Miami that is 10-1 in the playoffs. To add insult to injury, Butler himself said after the game that the Heat didn’t have as much talent as this Boston team – a benefit that should only play more in Boston’s favor if forward Gordon Hayward, who was dubiously upgraded before missing Game 2 can return either to Game 3 on Saturday night or Game 4 on Wednesday.
” That’s what [defense is] about winning championships, ”Butler said.
“This is how we’re going to win. We have to make the game more difficult. We have to get him out of the mud, as they say, because in terms of talent, I think Boston has an advantage. ”
So far, whether overwhelmed or over-performed, Boston has not been able to play at a sustained level for an entire game. And, because of that, the Celtics find themselves in a two-loss hole in this series.
“We just didn’t play a full 48 minutes to stay locked in and execute the game plan,” Brown said. “I feel like maybe about 75%, we played really well. It’s always a quarter or a sequence of events where we have breaches, and against this team we can’t have them.
“If we take that away, we’ll win. “