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It was just a year ago that the Boston Celtics were competing for a championship against the Golden State Warriors in the 2022 NBA Finals. While that team fell short, it was clear that the Celtics were motivated to avenge that loss and hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy this year.
However, that determination appears to have completely disappeared from Boston, as the team put forth a lifeless performance in Sunday’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Miami Heat on their way to a 128-102 loss at Kaseya Center. The Celtics now face the possibility of getting swept out of the playoffs after falling into a 3-0 hole.
Boston looked like a shell of the team that earned the No. 2 seed in the East during the regular season. The Celtics had no energy, fight or passion as they succumbed to an offensive barrage by the Heat that pretty much sealed the game by halftime. Boston trailed by as many as 33 points and allowed Miami to shoot 56.8 percent from the field and 54.3 percent from three-point range.
The Celtics star duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had nothing going on Sunday, combining for just 26 points on 12-of-35 shooting. They shot a combined 9-of-24 in the first half. Meanwhile, six players scored in double figures for the Heat, led by 29 points from Gabe Vincent.
NBA Twitter did not hold back its disdain for Boston’s performance in such a crucial game:jayson tat
Joon Lee @joonlee
It’s astounding the Celtics went from a tenacious defensive team last year to consistently disengaged
Absolutely embarrassing showing tonight
Bill Simmons @BillSimmons
The fall of the Celtics defense in 2023 is just dumbfounding. Kudos to Miami for knowing exactly how to attack a disconnected, poorly coached half-asleep team. This is embarrassing. Oh and the timeout came 4 plays too late. Should be a fun pod tonight!
Nick Friedell @NickFriedell
Straight up embarrassing from the Celtics. They have completely rolled over.
Stephen A Smith @stephenasmith
You know what: I don’t even recognize these @celtics. They are getting their ass kicked. Look like they’re barely trying. @MiamiHEAT getting into lanes uncontested and at will.#Embarrassing!
Ashley Nicole Moss @AshNicoleMoss
a team that was highly successful during the regular season, a top seed in their conference, just completely imploding like this is nasty
Kevin O’Connor @KevinOConnorNBA
What an embarrassment. The Celtics are a mentally weak team with a clueless head coach. Big changes should come this summer.
Skip Bayless @RealSkipBayless
The Boston Celtics are down 30 after 3 quarters on their way to going 0-3 down to an 8 seed. Just shameful.
Colin Cowherd @ColinCowherd
I mostly roll my eyes 👀 at fans who perpetually blame coaching for their disappointing teams — but Celtics defense doesn’t even resemble last season. It’s the coach.
𝙍𝙞𝙡𝙚𝙮 ☘️ @CelticsRiley
Celtics deserve to lose. So undisciplined. So unserious. I’m tired of seeing role players drive to the basket triple teamed while Tatum and Brown just wait WIDE OPEN.
Done with Mazzulla.
Rob Perez @WorldWideWob
Celtics fans on here hurting and demanding a new head coach. Be careful what you wish for, because I can think of someone who is able to prescribe the medicine you need.
I guess this Celtics team is as soft as everyone says they are
gary washburn @GwashburnGlobe
This is really bad, perhaps the worst playoff performance in the past two decades for the #Celtics. They have given up. #Heat
Jared Weiss @JaredWeissNBA
The Celtics have lost pretty much all of their attention to detail. Rob Williams still bites on pump fakes like he’s a rookie. They can’t chase Duncan Robinson over screens like they’re in the bubble. They’re just playing like trash tonight with the season on the line.
Ben Volin @BenVolin
This game is like watching the JV vs the Varsity
Tom Haberstroh @tomhaberstroh
The Celtics are already in Cancun
Adam Himmelsbach @AdamHimmelsbach
Celtics have quit.
Keith Smith @KeithSmithNBA
The game is a microcosm of what’s happened to the season. Just falling apart.
Idk what happened to the Celtics defense man
CelticsNation (57-25) (8/16) @CookedByCeltics
This team didn’t deserve to win anything, no passion, no effort, they always played like they were the best and no one could stop them and they choked, be better next year
James Boyd @RomeovilleKid
Get the Celtics off my screen!! Lol this is not a championship team, at ALL.
The Celtics kept their core intact from last year’s group, but it appears that they’re starting to run out of gas. No team in NBA playoff history has been able to overcome a 3-0 deficit, and Boston doesn’t look like it has enough fight to be the first.
The Celtics will have the chance to prove their critics wrong and save their season in Game 4 against the Heat on Tuesday night.