The Celtics' loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 was ugly. For the second time in as many games they blew a second-half, double-digit lead, and they’re down, 2-0, in the Eastern Conference finals.
But it turns out, it can get worse than a collapse. After the game, members of the team were heard screaming at each other in the locker room and items were being thrown about. The emotional display begs the question: Are the Celtics inching toward implosion?
Can the Celtics pull it together for Saturday night’s Game 3 and get back in the series? Or is all hope lost?
Here’s a look at some other memorable instances in which teams appeared to be on the precipice of falling apart, and how they responded.
June 3, 1984: Larry Bird calls out his Celtics teammates
After getting run off the floor in a 137-104 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals, things looked bleak for the Celtics, who trailed, 2-1. The performance left some wondering which Lakers player would be named Finals MVP.
“We played like a bunch of sissies," Larry Bird told the media in the locker room. "I know the heart and soul of this team, and today the heart wasn’t there, that’s for sure. I can’t believe a team like this would let LA come out and push us around like they did. Today I didn’t feel we played hard. We got beat bad, and it’s very embarrassing.”
The result: The Celtics responded in Game 4 with 129-125 overtime win to even the series. With the Lakers again poised to run away with a win in the second half of Game 4 and take a 3-1 lead, the series turned when Kevin McHale clotheslined Kurt Rambis as he went in for a layup.
The Celtics would go on to capture their 15th NBA championship, taking the series in seven games.
June 18, 1977: Billy Martin pulls Reggie Jackson from the field
The Yankees and Red Sox were locked in a battle for first place in the American League East when the teams met for a three-game series at Fenway Park. The Red Sox took the opener on Friday night and were ahead in the nationally televised game on NBC on Saturday, 7-4, in the seventh inning.
That was when manager Billy Martin, less than pleased with outfielder Reggie Jackson’s effort on a hit by Jim Rice, sent Paul Blair out to the field to replace Jackson in the middle of the inning. As Jackson trotted off the field, he was confronted by Martin in the dugout, with coach Elston Howard separating the two. As Jackson made his way to the clubhouse, Martin went after him again, but was stopped by coaches Dick Howser and Yogi Berra.
The result: The Yankees would go on to lose the game, as well as the next three, to run their losing streak to five games and drop to second place at 36-31.
However, they then went 64-31 the rest of the way to finish 100-62 and go on to win the World Series.
Nov. 7, 2004: Terrell Owens stalks Donovan McNabb on the sideline
The Eagles were coming off four straight trips to the NFC Championship game with Donovan McNabb at quarterback, and had brought in disgruntled receiver Terrell Owens from San Francisco the previous offseason.
Sitting at 7-0, they were about to suffer their first loss, 27-3, against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Owens was seen giving Mcabb an earful on the sideline.
The result: The Eagles would bounce back with a 49-21 win over the Cowboys the next week, where the two mocked the incident by having a fake argument on the sideline. The two allegedly stopped speaking to each other later that season, after a miscommunication against the Giants.
Philadelphia went 13-3 and earned a trip to the Super Bowl, where they lost, 24-21, to the Patriots. The bad blood continued the next season, with Owens suspended for four games in November 2005. He was eventually permanently deactivated. The feud between the two lives on to this day.
Jan. 2, 1994: Buddy Ryan punches Kevin Gilbride
The Houston Oilers had won 10 straight games, clinching a division title, and were leading the New York Jets, 14-0, late in the first half of the regular-season finale.
Rather than run out the clock, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride elected to call for a pass, but the Oilers fumbled and the Jets recovered on the 18-yard line, forcing Houston’s defense back onto the field, angering defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.
As the two coaches confronted each other on the sideline shortly before halftime. Ryan threw a punch at Gilbride, and the two had to be separated by players and coaches.
The result: The Oilers went on to win their 11th game in a row to improve to 12-4, but the incident would continue to make headlines in the days leading up to Houston’s divisional playoff with the Chiefs, with Ryan failing to apologize to Gilbride.
The Oilers would have their win streak snapped with a 28-20 loss to Joe Montana and Kansas City at the Astrodome.
Sept, 27, 2015: Jonathan Papelbon grabs Bryce Harper
One day after the Washington Nationals were officially eliminated from postseason contention, things managed to get even worse.
As Bryce Harper returned to the dugout after flying out in the eighth inning, former Red Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon met him at the top step and hassled him for not hustling down to first base.
The two exchanged words, and Papelbon went after Harper, pushing him into the dugout wall before both were separated by teammates.
The result: The Nationals lost that game, 12-5, and would finish 83-79. Papelbon was back with the team the following season but struggled and was released in August.
Follow Andrew Mahoney @GlobeMahoney.