After gaining a 17-point lead in the first half in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals through to the Heat, there was reportedly a blowout in the Celtics locker room following the defeat.
Marcus Smart and other Celtics players were fighting in the locker room, according to Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.
Smart reportedly yelled “all of you on that bull …” to teammates before going to the bathroom. Washburn also reported that multiple players were fighting for several minutes and items were being thrown.
Kemba Walker downplayed the incident to reporters moments later.
“It was nothing,”
– Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) 18 September 2020
Tatum expanded the feeling of the team a bit more after being defeated 2-0.
“We are frustrated,” said Tatum. “This is team sport. We shouldn’t be happy to be down 0-2. It was nothing [out of the] ordinary. I’m just talking about the game. Okay, I have to prepare for the next one. “
“What happens in the locker room has to stay in the locker room,” Tatum added later. “We shouldn’t come here and talk about what we talked about as a team after a win or a defeat. That’s why we go to the locker room and talk to each other, whether we win or lose. That’s it.”
“The boys were thrilled after a difficult game, a defeat,” said Celtics manager Brad Stevens.
Smart reportedly left the arena not long after and did not speak to the media after Thursday’s defeat.
As for what happened in the game itself, the two common questions Stevens, Tatum and Walker faced were, “What happened in that third quarter?” (which saw the Celtics get an outscored 37-17), and why they were fighting the Heat zone defense.
Stevens thought his team wasn’t connected during the third quarter.
“We split up and didn’t play well. And they did a good job,” said Stevens. “We will not beat this team if we are not fully connected on both ends of the pitch. So, we have to go back to being that, which we have done at times, but right now they are a better team and we will have to fight to get back to this series.”
Tatum simply said the Heat “overtook us, in short”.
The Celtics returned from a seven-point trailing in the fourth quarter to take a five-point lead with 4:25 left. However, the Heat ended the game with a 15-7 run to give them a 106-101 win.
While the Celtics weren’t able to maintain the scant lead, Stevens liked the way his team played along the stretch.
“I thought once we did that, we were really playing really well,” said Stevens. “Dragić hit the two contested shots on Theis, one of which was right at the end of the shot clock when he threw it. We’ve done a lot of good things in the past seven minutes. We just shot ourselves in the third. “
The Heat opened their zone defense for much of the second half, conceding just 41 points after the Celtics had scored 60 in the first half.
Stevens flipped his cap at the Heat but reflected that the Celtics were able to handle the zone much better in Game 1.
“It’s a tough area to play against,” Stevens said. “We played well against it in Game 1. We played at a much better pace than tonight. So, we’re going to go back and go through it, find out if it was a technical thing or a rhythm thing or a performance thing or a thing not focused on the important things. “
In the 25 games played by the Celtics against the Heat zone defense in the second half, they made only five shots and committed five turnovers, according to Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN.
The Celtics made 5 shots and 5 turnovers out of 25 played against the Heat zone defense in the 2nd half.
h / t @ESPNStatsInfo
– Kirk Goldsberry (@kirkgoldsberry) 18 September 2020
Tatum was notably one of those players affected by the area. He committed five turnovers and saw his shot attempts halved from Game 1 (24) to Game 2 (12) because he was unable to get open looks. He said he must be “ready to shoot” and be “capable of firing on defenders, in any daylight”.
“I hope that. I knew that,” said Tatum about fighting the team’s fights against the zone defense. “I have to watch the movie. We need to have better spacing, I think. Many times we just weren’t in the right place. Whether it’s against a man or a zone, this won’t help. You always have to have the right spacing to create good movement (and) a good shot. Messed up spacing against a good team, a good defensive team. “
The Celtics have two days to figure out how to beat the Heat zone defense, otherwise they will lose 3-0 after Saturday’s Game 3.
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