In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat, the Celtics had a 66-57 lead over the Heat at halftime. However, the third quarter saw the Heat outscore the Celtics 46-25, turning a nine-point deficit into a 12-point lead. Boston struggled in the second half, with only seven assists and 10 turnovers compared to 15 assists and five turnovers in the first half. The Heat took better care of the ball in the second half, only committing four turnovers compared to 11 in the first half.
Furthermore, the Celtics’ domination of points in the paint in the first half slipped in the second half, where Miami edged Boston 24-22. The Heat also had a 10-7 advantage over Boston in second-chance points in the second half, compared to Boston’s 11-2 edge in the first half. Miami’s 16-for-31 shooting from 3-point range also contributed to its 123-116 victory over Boston.
Boston’s defense was also an issue in the third quarter, where Miami scored 46 points. Celtics guard Marcus Smart said the team needs to “pick up our physicality and playing some damn defense.” However, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla tends to make observations and adjustments with an offensive mindset, opting for smaller, quicker lineups with more spacing and more shooting.
In the fourth quarter, it was Boston’s offense that fell apart, particularly with players trying to make plays individually rather than collectively. Celtics star Jayson Tatum had 30 points but didn’t take a shot in the fourth quarter and made three of his four turnovers inside the final three minutes. Mazzulla did not call any timeouts during the disastrous third quarter, opting to let his players sort things out themselves. Smart defended Mazzulla, saying it’s not on the coach to bail the players out and that the team needs to help each other out on both ends.