The Boston Celtics were able to gain their first foothold in the Eastern Conference Finals with a win on Saturday against the Heat to cut Miami’s series lead to 2-1. Game 4 won’t take place until Wednesday due to Monday Night Football, which means there’s plenty of time for both parties to look back on Game 3 — and continue reviewing what happened in the first two games that saw Miami take a 2-0 advantage.
In both of those games, the Celtics took a lead in the first half but failed to get to the finish line, with the Heat simply executing better down the stretch. Game 2 was especially painful for Boston, who saw a 13-point halftime lead erased in the third quarter when Miami outscored them by 20 and the Celtics simply couldn’t find an answer. After the game, frustrations were high in the Boston locker room as Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and others reportedly had it out, with Smart leaving angrily while yelling back at the locker room, ‘y’all on that bullsh*t.‘
It was the type of moment that surely happens more often than we know of, but the Bubble’s locker room setup allows for reporters to be much closer to the locker room and hear the goings on. The Celtics all shrugged it off and they channeled their frustration in past performances into a Game 3 win in which they fought off a Heat charge in the fourth quarter in a way they were unable to the past two games. Smart did not speak with the media after either game, but met with the assembled media on Monday and discussed the postgame outburst, calling it “electrifying” and noting that it’s what happens in a family.
"We're a family. Families fight."
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) September 21, 2020
It’s clear that what happened after Game 2 was far from the locker room “crumbling” as some positioned it, but more the release of frustration after two difficult losses that, as Smart said, saw them let two possible wins slip away. The response in Game 3 is why Smart called it “electrifying,” because it helped wake the team up and refocus them on putting that energy and frustration into their game. We’ll see if that can continue in Game 4 on Wednesday as they look to even the series with Miami.