The Boston Celtics, for the second straight game, blew a double-digit lead to the Miami Heat and now find themselves trailing 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
On Thursday night, Boston held a 17-point first half lead, but saw that evaporate in the third quarter as Miami went on a 32-10 run at one point to take control of the game going to the fourth quarter. The Celtics would claw their way back to take a three-point lead in the fourth quarter, but saw that evaporate as they continue to be unable to consistently score on the Heat’s zone defense. Down three in the closing seconds, Jaylen Brown had a shot to tie the game and force overtime for a second time that went begging, and after the game tensions were apparently high in the Boston locker room.
Multiple reports from Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe and Malika Andrews of ESPN pointed to Marcus Smart as being very vocal with his frustration after the game, yelling in the locker room and leaving angrily while saying, “y’all on that bullsh*t,” while someone else seemed to be throwing things in the locker room.
Marcus Smart is screaming in the #Celtics locker room and there is a bunch of arguing going on. Smart comes out say “y’all on that bullshit!” Team is imploding. Smart is in bathroom and there is still screaming coming from locker room.
— gary washburn (@GwashburnGlobe) September 18, 2020
There were loud clanks — like someone throwing items — coming from the Celtics’ locker room. https://t.co/0D9SokSr5u
— Malika Andrews (@malika_andrews) September 18, 2020
It’s not exactly a great sign for a team that has carried such good vibes throughout their run to this point, but it’s also the kind of thing that happens a lot given the competitive nature of NBA players — we just don’t typically hear about it because locker rooms in NBA arenas aren’t usually within earshot of where reporters stand. It’s possible this is the kind of thing that can galvanize a group that has simply been outplayed and out-willed late in two straight games — something they aren’t accustomed to. They know that a 2-0 series deficit isn’t insurmountable, but losing Game 3 would all but seal their fate. As such, they have two days to figure things out, namely how to be more productive offensively when the Heat go zone, and the reality of being in a perilous situation seemed to set in quickly after their Game 2 loss.
Smart didn’t speak to the media after the game, but Jaylen Brown was asked about Smart’s frustration and said the Celtics “needed that” and it’s one of the reasons they love Smart as a teammate.
Celtics’ Jaylen Brown on postgame locker room scene after Game 2 loss to Heat: “In families, there’s ups and downs, fights and emotions. But that’s exactly what we are: a family. We’re going to hold each other accountable.” pic.twitter.com/IEgDDXwByR
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 18, 2020
Jaylen Brown on Marcus Smart getting angry in the locker room: “That’s why we love Marcus – he plays with passion, he’s full of fire…We need that. There are ups & downs with families, but we embrace each other for who we are. We gotta take that same fire and add it to Game 3”
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) September 18, 2020
Enes Kanter and Kemba Walker took different approaches to the situation, denying it happened in the case of Walker and, for Kanter, firing back against the idea that the team was “crumbling” as Washburn said.
Kemba Walker: "Nothing happened in the locker room. I don't even know what you guys are talking about. We'll be fine. We'll be fine."
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) September 18, 2020
Too many Bullsh.t rumors out there, this group of guys is one of the best I’ve been around.
No one can split our family up.
Keep fighting & grinding.
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) September 18, 2020
Whatever took place in the locker room, the question now is whether Boston will respond in the way they need to, particularly late when Miami has simply been dominant.