Skip to main content

Let's start with the obvious, committing 16 turnovers, including eight in that disastrous third quarter in Game 1, is unacceptable. The Heat converted those mistakes into 19 points, 12 of which came in the third frame.

Jayson Tatum was responsible for seven of those 16 turnovers, and he coughed up the ball six times in the third quarter. Many of those were unforced.

Here, Tatum gets the ball from Jaylen Brown, comes off a screen from Robert Williams, and inexplicably, he immediately picks up his dribble. He then telegraphs a pass back to Brown that Butler steps in front of, and he earns two points at the other end.

Boston's ensuing possession, credit Butler for reading the situation, knowing he'll have a great chance at a steal, coming from Williams' blind side. But Tatum should have seen Butler and waited him out. There's 19 seconds on the shot clock when he throws this pass.

The Celtics also need to be better on the boards. Entering the conference finals, Miami ranked ninth out of 16 playoff teams in points per game, producing 107.1 per contest, according to NBA.com. But the Heat make teams pay when they extend possessions. Utilizing the same timeframe, Miami generated 15.6 points per game on second-chance opportunities, the second-most in the playoffs, per NBA.com.

When the Heat seized control in the third quarter of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, they turned four offensive rebounds into nine points, helping them outscore Boston 39-14 in the period.

The Celtics also need to play more disciplined defense against Jimmy Butler. That's easier said than done. Back off him, and he might charge to the rim for two points at the basket. Invade his air space, and he's likely drawing contact to get to the free-throw line. In the series opener against Boston, Butler took 18 foul shots, making 17 of them. That's how you finish with a game-high 41 points despite not making a three.

Wednesday, Daniel Theis said Boston has to play with more discipline against Butler and "make him make tough shots," adding, "we can't bail him out and put him on the free-throw line."

As that relates to plays like the clip below, defenders have to keep their arms extended to avoid fouling Butler as he plows to the rim.

Scroll to Continue

RECOMMENDED ARTICLES

Post-game, Brown expressed: "We let him get away with too much. Eighteen free throws, that's way too many."

He went on to say: "He's very comfortable right now. We need to do a better job of breaking that rhythm that he's in."

The Celtics also can't go from having 17 assists in the first half to five in the second, only one of which came in, you guessed it, the third quarter.

There wasn't nearly enough of that after halftime. The same goes for plays like the one below, as evidenced by Tatum not scoring any points in the paint in the final two frames.

The Celtics proved in the first half, they can beat Miami even if they're down two starters again. Fortunately for Boston, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports is reporting that while Al Horford, who entered into the NBA's health and safety protocols Tuesday, is unlikely to be back for Game 2, the Celtics anticipate having Marcus Smart for Thursday's matchup. Smart was unable to suit up for the series opener due to a right mid-foot sprain.

When the Celtics got hit with a haymaker in the third quarter, they sorely missed the player they've dubbed the heart and soul of the team. They needed his attitude and physicality as much as his ball-handling. Not to mention, Butler relentlessly targeted Payton Pritchard to produce points for the Heat. If Smart's back on Thursday, that option's not available to Butler in the game's final stages.

Since turning their season around, which was the most difficult challenge they've taken on this season, the Celtics have consistently fared well in the face of adversity. If they rectify these mistakes from Game 1, they'll put themselves in an advantageous position to tie the series as it heads to Boston.

Further Reading

Celtics Quickly Turning the Page to Pivotal Game 2: 'We've just got to come together, correct the mistakes, and be ready to fight'

Jayson Tatum, Celtics Discuss Heat Outscoring Them 39-14 in Third Quarter: 'I've got to lead better, I've got to play better in those moments, and I'm just looking forward to responding'

What Stood Out from Celtics' Loss in Game 1 of Eastern Conference Finals: Heat Seize Control with Third-Quarter Haymaker

Marcus Smart (Right Mid-Foot Sprain), Al Horford (Health and Safety Protocols) Out for Game 1 vs. Heat

A More Mature Celtics Team Ready for Familiar Challenges from Heat in 2020 Eastern Conference Finals Rematch

Robert Williams Available Without Minutes Restriction for Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference Finals