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The Boston Celtics love putting themselves in difficult positions. They carried a double-digit lead into the half of Game 1, and had a 94% chance to win the contest with two minutes remaining in the second quarter. Although, Boston allowed 46 points in the third quarter and lost Game 1, 123-116. The Celtics imploded in the second half, and the Heat couldn’t miss, which resulted in the Miami victory. Boston was in this same situation heading into Game 2 in the Eastern Conference semifinals and found a way to bounce back. They perform best when their backs are against the wall.
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The Boston Celtics have created tough situations for themselves in the postseason in the Tatum-Brown era. Last season, they beat the Bucks in seven games to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. In the Eastern Conference Finals, they limped over the finish line against the Heat, winning in seven games. The Celtics held a 3-2 series lead but allowed the Heat to force seven games. They should’ve lost in Game 7 as Jimmy Butler missed an open look from three, allowing Boston to advance to the NBA Finals. It seems like the Heat are playing inspired to get some revenge from last year’s Eastern Conference Final loss. However, Boston had every opportunity to blow out Miami in Game 1, and they let the Heat to crawl back into the game.
The Celtics have given away multiple double-digit leads in the playoffs, but this was one of the season's worst losses. Jayson Tatum didn’t record a field goal in the fourth quarter, and he barely touched the ball down the stretch. Tatum wasn’t having the same type of night as he did when he dropped 51 points in the semifinals, but he must touch the ball in crunch time. Jaylen Brown was also sloppy down the stretch, and Joe Mazzulla didn’t take the necessary steps to get these two involved.
The coach struggles with in-game adjustments. These are tough to notice during the regular season but are evident in the postseason. Every coaching mistake has the ability to lose a game, and this happened to Mazzulla’s Celtics. What the Heat did in Game 1 isn’t sustainable, as they shot 54.1% from the three-point line as a team, but they deserve credit for the win. It’s never easy to go on the road and win a basketball game in the playoffs.
Miami should put up a fight in Game 2, but the Celtics are one of the best teams in the NBA in must-win situations. They perform better as the hunted rather than the hunter, so look for them to do a better job finishing plays on both ends of the floor on Friday.
The Celtics did a lot of good things in Game 1, especially in the first half. They started so strong that their numbers for the full game are decent besides their three-point performance. Boston shot 51.9% from the field and outscored Miami in the paint, 62-40. However, Boston’s paint points only counted for two, and they were dominated from deep range, where buckets are worth three.
The Celtics were 10-29 from three, while the Heat were 16 of 31. The Heat’s six extra threes were the reason Boston was defeated. Most of these shots came at will for the Heat in the second half. The Celtics were lazy on defense throughout the entire game. If Boston doesn’t make deep shots, they tend to lose because this is a big part of their game plan.
We like the Celtics to be better from beyond the arc in Game 2. Their success starts with Tatum, Brown, and Al Horford, who combined for a 3 of 14 night from deep. If this fate changes, Boston covers the spread in Game 2.
The Miami Heat haven’t lost in the playoffs when Butler drops 30+ points. He was impressive once again, shooting 12 of 25 from the field for 35 points. Butler was also 9 of 10 from the free throw line, and every one of those points mattered for the team’s comeback. Butler must continue to be spectacular, or the Celtics will win this series.
Butler is good enough to change a series on his own, and he must, as the talent isn’t present for Miami to roll Boston. The Heat were dominated in the paint, which should be a concern heading into Game 2. If they weren’t lights out from three, they would have lost Game 1. The Heat need to continue being efficient and hope Boston misses their threes.
Despite losing Game 1, the Celtics are still a much better team than the Heat. Boston has gotten lucky and still won multiple series giving away winnable games. If they continue to take their foot off the gas with leads, there is no doubt they will be heading home. However, Boston has always responded with their backs against the wall, and this is a must-win contest before play transitions to Miami. The Celtics should be better from three and continue to have success down in the paint. Lay the points with Boston.
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Tanner Kern has been working in the betting industry since 2020. He currently is a social media content creator at DraftKings and contributes to multiple sites in addition to WSN, including Forbes and VSiN. He is also the cohost of the podcast Ride the Line at WSN.More info on Tanner Kern
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