(CTN News) – Wednesday night, the Celtics led by nine points at halftime. By the end of the third quarter, the Celtics trailed by 12 points.
Heat took Game 1 on the road, 123-116, after bludgeoning the Celtics in that third quarter.
The Celtics won’t panic, that’s for sure. The team lost Game 1 and Game 5 at home last series. Despite falling behind 3-2, the Celtics were able to be part of the 20 percent of teams to still win series. It isn’t a catastrophe for this team to trail 1-0 in the series.
The positivity, however, ends there. In this series opener, the Heat executed their game plan better than Boston did.
After losing 123-116, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla put a rosy spin on his team’s performance.
“We won three of the four quarters,” Mazzulla said, interrupting a question about whether the Celtics entered the game with the right mentality. “We lost the quarter because we lost our sense of urgency.”
When Mazzulla strode up to the podium, he made a statement that said, “We won three out of four quarters.”.
Mazzulla’s seven-plus-minute postgame press conference will undoubtedly leave fans in Boston with that message, which is not what they want to hear after yet another home playoff loss. This postseason, the Celtics are now 4-4 at home.
According to Mazzulla, the team’s start and finish encouraged him. In that one quarter, the lost badly to the Heat, as they scored 46 points, a franchise record.
There was a two-point Celtics lead after the first quarter, a seven-point Celtics lead after the second quarter, and a five-point Celtics lead after the fourth quarter. In the end, though, it was the Heat winning by 21 points in the third quarter that determined the outcome.
During Miami’s onslaught, Mazzulla remained largely silent, opting not to call timeouts to disrupt the momentum that had clearly shifted in Miami’s direction. In that third quarter, Mazzulla shot back at a reporter who asked about the lack of timeouts.
During the first quarter, Mazzulla called two timeouts.
In response to the reporter’s question, Mazzulla sarcastically replied, “Don’t call two in the first quarter.”. Put it off until the third quarter.”
It won’t silence critics who watched in disbelief as Mazzulla allowed teams to go on sustained runs without interruption throughout the season and into the postseason. During the Celtics’ 7-0 run to begin the fourth quarter, Erik Spoelstra quickly called timeout to let his team regain composure. Four minutes after Spoelstra called that timeout, the Heat were up by nine points.
According to Marcus Smart, his coach did not have enough timeouts.
In many cases, Joe does not bail us out when we play like crap, so we need to look in the mirror,” Smart said. “If Joe calls a timeout, do we come out and do the same thing?” Smart said.
Mazzulla’s list of what he wanted to see in that third quarter was fairly basic.
“Um, get better shots. Don’t turn it over. And don’t foul. And don’t give up offensive rebounds,” he said.
How would Mazzulla rate that third quarter overall? According to him, the Celtics let go of the rope. Inevitably, he was asked why they let go of the rope.
On the whole, Mazzulla didn’t have much to say, but his “three out of four quarters” line is sure to reverberate throughout Boston over the next two days, as the Celtics will host Game 2 on Friday.