Not every game features the same characteristics, and for the Miami Heat, they learned that the wrong way.
In an attempt to keep their postseason hopes alive, the Boston Celtics implemented a style of play that Miami simply had no answer for: points in the paint.
Scoring 60 points at the rim compared to the Heat’s 36, Boston’s new play calling put coach Erik Spoelstra’s squad in a hole that they’ve yet experience in the playoffs.
The result? A 117-106 victory for the Celtics, who now trail 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.
“We weren’t able to contain the ball all night,” Spoelstra said postgame. “You have to credit them.”
Whether the addition of Boston’s Gordon Hayward was the difference maker, or just a completely new and aggressive mindset came about for Jayson Tatum and his team, there was at least once predominant factor Miami could’ve used to have made Saturday’s contest more of a competitive game.
Call it what you want, the enthusiasm and integrity Miami typically plays with was nowhere to be found in Game 3. Add that alongside a poor 12 of 44 three-point shooting, including 14 consecutive missed shots from beyond the arc in the second half, and that’s a problem.
The issue at one point had Miami trailing by 20 with 7:13 left in the fourth quarter, a lead that was far too large for Jimmy Butler to overcome.
“We didn’t play hard enough. We didn’t do anything that we said we’re gonna do,” Butler said. “We knew how they were going to attack us. We weren’t helping each other out. We weren’t making that extra pass. … We have to be the ones to fix that.”
Now, as both clubs prepare for arguably the most significant game of the series, the Heat won’t be forced to adjust their game plan. Instead, it’s all about doing what has taken them so far along the journey of an NBA championship.
Would a couple tweaks to the 2-3 zone work? Yes. Regardless, the center of attention should be the energy and passion this Heat team plays with.
“Now we’ll really see what we’re made of,” Butler said.
It should be a fun one, to say the least.