Jayson Tatum scored 21 of his team-high 29 points in the first half and was the best player on the floor through the first 24 minutes of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Then, the third quarter arrived.
The Heat raised their effort and physicality and delivered a haymaker, outscoring Boston 39-14. One of the primary reasons for that was the Celtics committing eight of their 16 total turnovers. Many of them were unforced; six of the ones that happened in that fateful third frame were courtesy of Tatum. In those disastrous 12 minutes, Miami nearly outscored Boston strictly with points off turnovers, converting those eight errors into 12 points.
After the game, Tatum expressed the Celtics typically respond better than they did Tuesday night when teams go on runs, like the 22-2 rampage the Heat went on in the third quarter, saying: "I'll be the first one to say I take the blame for that. I've got to lead better, I've got to play better in those moments, and I'm just looking forward to responding."
When asked about the same subject, Jaylen Brown, who scored 24 points and grabbed ten rebounds, stated: "They went on a run. We got a little bit out of hand, out of sorts, turned the ball over. We just gave up way too many baskets. I think we lost the game in the third quarter."
Ime Udoka conveyed the Celtics: "got out-toughed and out-physicaled. They looked like they wanted to up their physicality and aggression, and we looked like we didn't want to match it." He added, "we lost our composure."
Coach Udoka also conveyed, "it was disappointing that we were caught off guard by their physicality. It was a talking point at halftime; that they would up the physicality and bring more of it in the third quarter."
When asked whether playing two days after Game 7 against the Bucks impacted the Celtics' performance in the series opener vs. the Heat, Udoka wasn't about to make excuses, especially after how well Boston played in the first half.
"I don't want to say it was anything to do with fatigue," said Udoka. "They increased their physicality, and we didn't handle it well."
And with third-quarter struggles being a theme for the Celtics in this year's playoffs, for them to rectify the issue at the root of them starting the Eastern Conference Finals down 1-0, Tatum asserted: "We need to come out with more of a sense of urgency. And that's on all of us."