The Celtics lost to the Heat, 111-105, in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Boston knows all too well how hard it will be to dig itself out of an 0-2 hole as the series shifts to Miami for Games 3 and 4.
The Heat made swift work of Boston in the fourth, retaking the lead with under three minutes to play after the Celtics struggled to keep control of the ball. Jayson Tatum scored just 5 points in the fourth, all at the free throw line. He finished with 34 to lead all scorers, shooting 3 of 10 from three and 10 of 20 from the field.
Jimmy Butler scored 27 points. Caleb Martin added 25 for Miami.
Grant Williams, who was sparsely used in the Celtics’ Game 1 loss, factored heavily in the fourth. He scored seven of his nine points in the final frame, but turned into the anti-hero after jawing with Butler while the Celtics held a nine-point lead. Butler scored seven points after the exchange.
Jaylen Brown managed to shake it off when it came to his brutal start (1-for-7). He finished with 16 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times, resulting in 20 points for Miami.
Game 3 is Sunday at the Kaseya Center (formerly FTX Arena).
Celtics-Heat Game 2: How it happened
The Celtics needed to prove they were better than the Heat. Instead, they wilted. — 12:30 a.m.
By Gary Washburn
The Celtics were supposed to be the better team in this series and they’re clearly not. Even when they led by 12 points early in the fourth quarter Friday night against the Heat, there was never a sense they were in control.
That’s because they didn’t, because they are a flawed and vulnerable team that has made a disturbing habit of freezing with fright in the crucial minutes of critical games. So it should come as no shock that the Celtics wasted that double-digit lead and looked completely inept in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Grant Williams has no regrets — 12:20 a.m.
By Nicole Yang
Grant Williams has no regrets about his fiery interactions with Heat star Jimmy Butler down the stretch Friday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“For me, I’m a competitor,” Williams said. “I’m going to battle. He got the best of me tonight. At the end of the day, it’s out of respect. I’m not going to run away from it.”
With six minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Williams hit a 3-pointer to extend Boston’s lead to 9. After the basket, Williams and Butler exchanged words on their way down the court. But the tension escalated on the next possession, when Butler, defended by Williams, earned an and-1 opportunity. The pair jawed at each other following the whistle, before getting separated and earning technical fouls.
The exchange seemed to ignite Butler, who proceeded to attack Williams on each of his subsequent baskets. After Butler scored next, he motioned that Williams was too little to guard him. And, as the Heat inched their way back into the game, Butler continued to pick on Williams in their one-on-one matchups.
Did we just watch the Celtics’ final game in TD Garden this season? — 12:00 a.m.
By Tara Sullivan
She should have gone to see Taylor Swift.
It was midway through the third quarter when a young fan at TD Garden held up a sign with the words, “could have been at Taylor Swift, but this is better,” a statement of belief that she had made the better of two choices of big Boston events Friday night. At the time, her decision seemed oh, so right, whipping the home crowd into its loudest frenzy of the night when they showed the homemade artwork on the big scoreboard.
Coming as it did in the wake of a thunderous, two-handed Jayson Tatum dunk that had just regained the lead for the Celtics, shown just after Tatum’s celebratory raised hand urged the crowd to bring on the noise and amid the ensuing timeout Miami coach Erik Spoelstra had called to stop the bleeding, everything was coming up Celtics.
Until it wasn’t.
Twitter’s got jokes — 11:40 p.m.
I can only conclude that Joe Mazzulla did not watch the Town enough today— jason concepcion (@netw3rk) May 20, 2023
Gotta know when to talk and to who…Jimmy cookin Grant. And now he out lol— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) May 20, 2023
Highlights from Joe Mazzulla’s postgame press conference — 11:35 p.m.
On the Celtics’ failure to score any field goals in the final four minutes: “I thought we got good looks just didn’t think we made them.”
On the Celtics’ failure to execute: “They did a good job of protecting the paint. And some of the turnovers were unfortunate. Just lost the ball at half court.
“But when we did get a shot off, we got a good one and we just have to execute better. We have to find the open man.”
On guarding Jimmy Butler: “I think when he misses we have to get the rebound. So, we gave up two very, very critical offensive rebounds. And then we gave up — we let Duncan Robinson get loose for a couple threes in the fourth quarter.
“So, I think focusing on the role guys getting going is more important than that. When he misses, we have to get the rebound. So, I thought we played relatively good defense on possessions and we didn’t finish plays.”
On the Heat’s defense in the final four minutes: “They played zone. But I thought we played at a better pace. I thought Jayson just made the right play, got the ball where it needed to go, whether it was him or others. When we didn’t turn it over, I thought we got good looks.”
On trying to get Tatum to score more: “He had the ball in his hands almost the entire game.”
On what he tells his team after this loss: “We got to win one at a time.”
On why Grant Williams was back in the rotation: “I just liked his physicality. I liked his rebounding, his ability to communicate defensively. I thought he gave us some really good minutes.”
On Grant Williams jawing with Butler: “I mean, he didn’t do anything wrong necessarily. So, I don’t think it’s emotions getting the best of him, I thought.”
Spo weighs in — 11:25 p.m.
Spoelstra: “I love that gnarly version of Jimmy …”
Spoelstra also said the storyline of the Heat’s uudrafted players is “over” and it’s “disrespectful” to talk about them that way.
Caleb Martin, who scored 25 for Miami; Duncan Robinson, who scored 15; and Max Strus, who scored 11, all went undrafted.
The Heat do not go away — 11:20 p.m.
There were times in the last series when the Celtics hit the 76ers with a big punch, and Philadelphia went away. These Heat do not go away. They absorbed that 21-2 burst, on the road, in a rowdy atmosphere, and mostly shrugged and responded with their own 19-2 surge. Backup guard Caleb Martin sparked the Miami answer and went to halftime with a team-high 14 points. — Adam Himmelsbach
Finn’s take: Why the Celtics lost — 11:15 p.m.
By Chad Finn
So many reasons why the Celtics lost, all of them pretty familiar. Strange tactical decisions (not doubling Jimmy Butler). Composure mistakes (Grant Williams making the moronic decision to talk smack to Butler, like they’re equals). Fundamental mistakes (the Heat had 11 offensive rebounds, three in the final 55 seconds). Getting torched by unheralded players that they don’t treat with respect (Caleb Martin and Duncan Robinson combined for 40 points on 17 of 25 shooting). Stars not coming through (Tatum had one field goal in the second half, I believe, and Brown was atrocious all night). Heat role players outplayed Boston’s big names (Brown, Smart and Horford were a combined minus-54). It was a must-win, and they did very few of the things a team needs to win. The Heat wanted it more.
Adam Himmelsbach’s instant analysis — 11:05 p.m.
By Adam Himmelsbach
Throughout these playoffs, and this season, for that matter, the Celtics have generally responded to adversity with force, coming up with big wins when the situation required them. But the Heat have made it clear they do not care about precedent, and on Friday night they provided another example.
No. 8-seeded Miami overcame a 21-2 Celtics run in the first half, and clawed back from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter, eventually securing a 111-105 win that gives them a commanding 2-0 lead as the Eastern Conference finals head to Miami for Sunday’s Game 3.
Jimmy Butler had 27 points and Bam Adebayo added 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Heat. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists, but was unable to close out the win in crunch time. The Celtics made just 10 of 35 3-pointers.
The Celtics took an 86-75 lead on a Robert Williams three-point play on the first possession of the fourth quarter. But these Heat do not go away. A pair of Duncan Robinson 3-pointers sparked a comeback, and his layup with 4:37 left pulled the Heat within 98-96.
With Boston ahead, 100-96, Butler sparked a 9-0 burst with a pair of tough jumpers over Williams, and Adebayo capped it with a putback slam.
Tatum was fouled on a 3-pointer with 49.3 seconds left and may have kicked his leg out, but Miami had already used its challenge. He hit all three free throws. But Gabe Vincent answered with a 20-footer at the other end with 35.1 seconds left.
The Celtics botched a chance at a two-for-one when Tatum twice had the ball knocked away, but his free throws pulled Boston within two. Vincent was fouled and drained two free throws, and Tatum missed a pull-up 3-pointer to essentially end it.
Celtics lose, 111-105 — 10:55 p.m.
It’s quiet here at the Garden.
Jimmy Butler doing Jimmy Butler things — 10:53 p.m.
CF: Stan Van Gundy, just now on the broadcast: “A difference in philosophy here. The Heat have run doubles at Tatum all quarter. Boston has allowed Jimmy Butler to play one on one.”
It’s not philosophy. It’s coaching acumen.
Heat 107, Celtics 103 — 10:48 p.m.
35.1 to play.
KT: 🎵 I’m in the room, it’s a typical Friday night. Watching the kind of runs Boston doesn’t like ... 🎵
CF: They deserve this.
Gotta know when to talk and to who…Jimmy cookin Grant. And now he out lol— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) May 20, 2023
CR: Gabe Vincent sinks the shot to give Miami a 107-103. Just about everyone pulls on the rope for this Miami team.
Heat 103, Celtics 100 — 10:44 p.m.
1:38 to play.
NY: The Heat are in the bonus, so now Max Strus is shooting free throws after an offensive foul on Al Horford. He missed the first, though. (Chad’s jinx worked.)
Celtics 100, Heat 97 — 10:42 p.m.
Celtics 100, Heat 97 | 3:33, fourth quarter
NY: Grant Williams has scored 7 of Boston’s 17 points in the fourth quarter.
CF: Heat haven’t missed a free throw. 12 for 12. The Heat live for the little things.
NY: Jimmy Butler is Fearless.
Challenge unsuccessful — 10:39 p.m.
NY: The challenge is unsuccessful after a lengthy review. Celtics have the ball, up 2 with 4 minutes to go.
Spo challenges call on Butler’s offensive foul — 10:36 p.m.
Celtics 98, Heat 96 | 4:06, fourth quarter
NY: Marcus Smart is on the floor in pain after drawing an offensive foul on Jimmy Butler, but we know All Too Well he’ll be OK. The call had Erik Spoelstra seeing Red, though, because he decided to use his challenge. Big review in a two-point game.
UPDATE: The call was not overturned.
Celtics 98, Heat 94 — 10:33 p.m.
Celtics 98, Heat 94 | 4:50, fourth quarter
NY: It appears the Celtics’ closing lineup will be Smart-Tatum-Brown-Grant-Horford.
CF: Grant goes from not playing to the closing lineup. Mazzullaball in a nutshell.
Double techs — 10:31 p.m.
NY: Grant Williams jawed at Jimmy Butler after a Butler and-1. Both picked up technical fouls.
CF: Grant has played great, but talking trash to Jimmy Butler is idiotic.
NY: Williams getting into it after the whistle really makes me think about P.J. Tucker as his ideal player comp, but he still has a ways to go.
CF: You do not look Jimmy Butler in the eye in the fourth quarter. If you address him, you call him sir.
CR: We know All Too Well that you probably shouldn’t try to chirp Jimmy Butler in the fourth quarter.
Grant Williams from 3 — 10:29 p.m.
KT: Jaylen Brown passes out of a double-team and finds — guess who — Grant Williams for an open three.
KM: The Celtics are up, 96-87, and the Garden is roaring.
NY: Kyle Lowry is minus-21 tonight (by far the worst of the game) but managed to generate two extra possessions for the Heat and also put them in the bonus for the final seven minutes. The crowd obviously disapproves of the calls there.
Celtics 93, Heat 87 — 10:25 p.m.
Celtics 93, Heat 87 | 7:41, fourth quarter
NY: Jimmy Butler (33 minutes) opened the fourth quarter on the bench and is checking back in with the Heat down 6 and 7:41 to go.
CF: The Celtics were up 83-75 when Butler sat to start the fourth. Miami made up 2 points while he was out.
Celtics 89, Heat 77 — 10:20 p.m.
Celtics 89, Heat 77 | 10:26, fourth quarter
The Celtics have tied their biggest lead of the game.
CR: Still not his best game, but Jaylen Brown has managed to shake it off when it comes to his brutal start (1-for-7). He’s up to 16 points.
What the Celtics need to do in the fourth quarter — 10:15 p.m.
CF: They can’t let this 8-point lead dwindle and allow it to become a one- or two-possession game late. Miami has a remarkable record in tight games. The Celtics ... uh ...
KM: Butler is on the bench to start the fourth.
CF: Tatum leads the Celtics in points (29), rebounds (13), assists (5), and plus/minus (18).
End of third quarter: Celtics 83, Heat 75 — 10:12 p.m.
KM: Tatum leads all scorers with 29. Caleb Martin leads the Heat with 21.
CF: Celtics won the quarter, 33-21. A little better than the 46 they allowed in the third in Game 1.
CR: Celtics have now won 2 of 3 quarters so far tonight. All falling into place for Joe Mazzulla.
CF: If they win 3 of 4, they will also win the game. It’s math.
Tatum has 29 — 10:06 p.m.
KM: It’s 74-68 Boston with 3:05 to play in the third.
NY: Pretty complete game from Jayson Tatum through three quarters tonight. 29 points on 10 of 15 shooting. He’s starting to take over now, as the Celtics lead by 6.
Celtics 67, Heat 62 — 9:58 p.m.
Celtics 67, Heat 62 | 5:28, third quarter
CR: cody zeller kevin love
getting roasted on defense
Celtics cooking Kevin Love right now.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 20, 2023
NY: Which were louder? The cheers for the girl holding up the “Could have been at Taylor Swift but this is better” sign or the cheers when Joe Mazzulla called a timeout after a 4-0 Heat run?
NY: Second celebrity sighting! Ludacris.
The Celtics rarely put a lower-third identifier on the jumbotron, so whether the crowd cheers is generally a good test of someone’s fame in 2023.
KT: Maybe the Celtics will be 2 Fast, 2 Furious for the Heat in the fourth ...
Celtics regain the lead — 9:51 p.m.
CR: Tatum throws down a two-handed slam, and the Celtics have the lead again, 61-60. Miami calls timeout. There’s 7:17 left in the third.
KT: JB looks like he’s snapping out of it, too. The Jays are waking up.
CF: Playing with a little more pace.
NY: TD Garden just played Seven Nation Army, which is a song the Heat use at home to pump up the crowd.
CR: And the Garden opened the second half with tunes from Mr. 305 himself, Pitbull.
Heat 58, Celtics 55 — 9:47 p.m.
Heat 58, Celtics 55 | 9:15, third quarter
How to win the next two quarters? — 9:40 p.m.
KM: What do the Celtics need to do differently to win the next two quarters?
NY: For starters, the Celtics need Good Marcus Smart to show up. He finished the first half as a minus-17.
(Which wasn’t even a team-low, for the record. Jaylen Brown finished minus-20.)
CF: Jaylen needs to make a few of the shots he’s jacking up (he’s 3 of 12, the most attempts on the Celtics). Smart (1 assist, 2 turnovers) needs to be his first-half-of-Game-1 version. He’s made terrible decisions. They need to guard the perimeter better (Miami is 6 for 14 from 3) and knock down some 3s themselves (they’re 6 of 20). They also need to hire Erik Spoelstra at halftime.
CR: In a recurring trend from last year, the Celtics desperately need to take care of the basketball. Five turnovers in a second quarter that went off the rails.
NY: When the Celtics make at least 40 percent of their threes, they are 36-2 this year, including the playoffs.
KT: Need a better effort on the boards. Miami is leading the rebounding battle, 26-21, and already has six offensive rebounds. I expect some threes will start falling.
CR: The Heat were 27th in the NBA during the regular season in 3-point shooting (34.4%).In six quarters against the Celtics in the ECF, Miami is shooting 48.9% from 3-point range.
At the half: Heat 54, Celtics 50 — 9:30 p.m.
KM: Jimmy Butler put up an improbable jumper to put the Heat up by 4 entering the half.
Tatum: 14 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists; Brown: 6 points, 1 rebound; White: 9 points, 1 rebound
Butler: 12 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists; Martin: 14 points, 1 rebound
Celtics 50, Heat 49 — 9:27 p.m.
Celtics 50, Heat 49 | 42.5, second quarter
CF: Zeller has three offensive rebounds. They should be ashamed.
KM: Poor Cody Zeller catching strays left and right from you guys.
CF: He looks like he plays in the weekly Globe game in Dorchester. And not well.
Heat 49, Celtics 46 — 9:23 p.m.
Heat 49, Celtics 46 | 2:42, second quarter
NY: Cody Zeller is back in with 3:15 to go in the half. I expect at least a 6-0 Celtics run.
Joe Mazzulla actually calls a timeout — 9:17 p.m.
It’s all tied up, 42-42. We’ve got 5:46 to play in the second quarter.
CR: Forgot to include “Caleb Martin drops 30″ on my Eastern Conference Finals bingo card.
CF: Jaylen is a great player, but this is a good example of why he can be frustrating, He doesn’t do much to help the offense when his shot isn’t falling, and he falls into the habit of drifting on D.
NY: (Caleb Martin’s 8 straight points prompted that note.)
CF: I still think the Celtics made the right call in keeping Javonte Green over Max Strus.
NY: Javonte and Jayson Tatum became such fast friends that I thought the Celtics were going to keep re-signing him solely to appease Tatum.
where were you when caleb martin became tracy mcgrady— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 20, 2023
Celtics 42, Heat 38 — 9:14 p.m.
Celtics 42, Heat 38 | 6:26, second quarter
CR: Uh, I think Jayson Tatum needs to go back in.
NY: Hard to watch the Heat and not have an appreciation for their undrafted players. I’m pretty sure all of their lineup combinations have at least one.
Tatum sits and Cs offense instantly sputters.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 20, 2023
A dust-up — 9:09 p.m.
NY: Grant Williams can’t help himself but get a little feisty on the court.
KT: [Expletive] the Heat chants from the crowd. Oh so classy, Boston. Not.
KM: Big boos for Bam as he takes the line, too.
Interesting stats — 9:07 p.m.
CF: Interesting scoring stats for the Celtics right now. Tatum has 14, White is second with 6 (two 3s, good to see), Brogdon has 3, and four other players have 2.
Also, Grant Williams is plus-15 in 5:04 of playing time.
Celtics 33, Heat 24 — 9:05 p.m.
Celtics 33, Heat 24 | 10:46, second quarter
Tatum leads all scorers with 14.
19-4 run since Grant Williams checked in.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 20, 2023
End of first quarter: Celtics 25, Heat 24 — 8:58 p.m.
NY: How many points will Jayson Tatum have a halftime?
I’m feeling 22.
KT: Hey, look, the Celtics won another quarter ...
CR: Joe Mazzulla approves.
CF: The Most Quarters Won banner is going to be sweet.
CR: Don’t give Jim Irsay any new ideas ...
CF: (Wise-guy comments aside, I think they’re winning the championship.)
KT: Me too, they just love to add drama and spice things up a bit. Can’t make it too easy ...
Heat 20, Celtics 14 — 8:52 p.m.
Heat 20, Celtics 14 | 3:36, first quarter
CR: Slow start for Jaylen Brown. He’s just 1-for-7 from the field so far in the first quarter.
CF: Rest of the Celtics are 5 for 9. Reggie Miller just speculated on the broadcast (which has not frozen on a “The Little Mermaid” trailer so far) that his elbow might be bothering him. It’s not stopping him from shooting.
KM: We have a Grant Williams sighting!
NY: Wow and Cody Zeller is in. Another boost for the Celtics.
Our first celeb sighting — 8:47 p.m.
NY: Our first celebrity sighting! Tacko Fall is in the house.
KT: Antoine Walker is also in the house. He did some interviews pregame.
Heat 13, Celtics 9 — 8:45 p.m.
Heat 13, Celtics 9 | 6:16, first quarter
KT: Someone’s got to laugh at the “elite shooter” comment again to bust Horford out of this slump.
KM: Who wants to volunteer?
NY: You would expect his shooting to regress to the mean at some point.
CR: A better start for Rob Williams on the defensive side of things. Much more willing to challenge Jimmy Butler and the Heat shooters. Always want to avoid fouling, but Miami had far too many easy looks in Game 1.
CF: Jaylen’s next box out will be his first of the night. And maybe his career.
White and Horford are going to have to hit some perimeter shots at some point.
NY: I fear Derrick White is an 82-game player and not a 16-game player.
The double-big lineup lasted 4:25 to start the game — basically the same amount of time as it did in Game 1. But instead of subbing out Al Horford for Malcolm Brogdon, Joe Mazzulla took out Rob Williams for Derrick White.
CF: All right, make your opinion known now: will Mazzulla play Grant Williams tonight?
NY: He will, but it won’t be until they are down by 16 in the third quarter.
What to make of Jimmy Butler’s comments about Marcus Smart — 8:40 p.m.
KT: There was some concern on social media that Butler was strategically pumping Smart up to shoot more with those comments.
Jimmy Butler on Marcus Smart: "He was making all the right plays ... He defended incredibly well. Made shots, too. I think they will watch film and see that they probably have to utilize him more. I would. I've got a lot of respect for that guy." pic.twitter.com/CYZ3ycYxmB— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) May 18, 2023
I was the one who asked Butler about Smart for my postgame piece on the Celtics’ lack of spacing in the second half. Butler was just answering the question. Didn’t seem devious. Genuine respect on both sides from those guys.
Elite Al Horford? Not so much. — 8:38 p.m.
NY: In the game immediately following the “elite shooter” exchange, Al Horford shot 5 of 7 from behind the arc. Since? He’s 5 of 27.
CF: Elite means many things to many people.
Heat 7, Celtics 2 — 8:35 p.m.
Heat 7, Celtics 2 | 10:30, first quarter
CR: Jimmy Butler mentioned postgame on Wednesday that the Celtics should involve Marcus Smart more on offense. Two field-goal attempts for the Boston point guard on their first two possessions.
NY: Al Horford hasn’t made a three in ages.
CF: Marcus took more shots in the first minute than he took in the first half in Game 1.
And we’re off — 8:33 p.m.
The Garden is just as loud as it was on Wednesday.
And one more prediction ... — 8:25 p.m.
KM: What’s your prediction for weirdest or wildest celebrity who will be at the game tonight?
NY: Most of the celebrity fans at Celtics games are fellow Boston athletes. A few former Celtics (Kemba Walker, Daniel Theis) have also made appearances this postseason, so Enes Kanter showing up would be my “wildest/weirdest” guess.
CR: How about Matt Judon wearing a Micah Parsons jersey?
KT: I think DJ Khaled is going to catch a road game at the Garden like Meek Mill did during the Sixers series.
CF: Are we sure the Celtics have celebrity fans? Whenever I see photo gallery of celebs at a game — the Celtics love to post these on Instagram — it’s usually Donnie Wahlberg (legit), Maria Menounos (legit), three Patriots players, and, like, Scal. I have no answer for you.
Jaylen Brown knows the Celtics’ time is now — 8:20 p.m.
By Tara Sullivan
So far this postseason, Jaylen Brown has found himself at the sharp end of a James Harden elbow, sprawled on the court after nearly being the victim of a Joel Embiid foot stomp, and up close and personal with his face on the TD Garden hardwood.
Bleeding from the hand or bleeding from the mouth, Brown has been a picture of intensity across an Eastern Conference opening-round series win against the Hawks, a grueling seven-game conference semifinals slog against the Sixers, and an opening-game disappointment against the Heat in the conference finals. He continues to play with urgency, a relatively consistent force on a team that can be so maddening for its occasional lapses in that category.
Brown, as much as anyone in green, seems keenly aware of what we know to be true with this 2022-23 Celtics squad: Their time is now.
What’s your prediction for tonight? — 8:15 p.m.
CF: Game 1 followed the pattern of Game 2 of last year’s conference semifinals between these two teams. I’d like to say Game 2 will also mirror last year — the Celtics took a 25-point lead into halftime and coasted to victory. I do think the Celtics will win tonight, but it won’t be a blowout. I’ll go Celtics by 8.
NY: The Celtics bounce back and win. Miami’s shooting cools down considerably.
KT: The Celtics will win by 10 or 15 and have us wondering why we were concerned in the first place.
CR: Celtics win by double digits. Not only will the Heat not sink 51.6 percent of their shots from 3-point range, but most of Boston’s miscues in Game 1 (transition defense, turnovers, spacing, defensive intensity) should be correctable. Again, should. Don’t expect Boston to settle for just 29 3-point attempts once again.
What’s one thing you think the Celtics should do differently tonight? — 8:10 p.m.
CF: Besides hiring Nick Nurse or Monty Williams before tipoff? OK, that’s hurtful, I’m sorry, Joe Mazzulla. Sort of.
Hmmm, let’s see. I could probably list a half-dozen adjustments/changes off the top of my head that I’d like to see happen for Game 2, so allow me to cop out and go with one in a broader sense and one in a specific sense.
The broader one is really basic: Start with a high level of defensive intensity and maintain it for the full game. Their defensive commitment -- or sometimes, as in Game 1, their lack thereof -- from tipoff is usually the tell-tale sign of how they’re going to play. The Celtics came back from down 3-2 against Philadelphia in large part because they played lockdown defense even if their shots weren’t falling. In Game 1 against the Heat, the intensity just wasn’t there, especially when it came to closing out on shooters. Jaylen Brown, who played in a fog for a lot of Game 1, seemed to let his offensive frustrations (six turnovers) affect his defense. Malcolm Brogdon also was guilty of some mental mistakes defensively. Even reliable Derrick White had a few sequences where he got beaten to a rebound or a loose ball. That can’t happen tonight.
As for the more specific one: Just play Grant Williams, Joe. Burying him has made no sense, even with his flaws. He should never dribble into the lane. Bad things happen. He can defend, plays physically, and the last time we saw him get any significant time, he knocked down four 3s in Game 2 against the Sixers. Get this: In Game 2 against the Heat last year, he scored 19 points in 32 minutes and was plus-37. One of the Celtics’ advantages in this series is quality depth. Mazzulla needs to figure out how to use it.
NY: The Celtics should consider giving Grant Williams some minutes. He can help defend Bam Adebayo (and had some success doing so last year) and has the ability to knock down the three. Joe Mazzulla chose to expand his rotation with Payton Pritchard in Game 1, but Jimmy Butler’s eyes immediately lit up every time Pritchard was on the floor.
KT: Play some defense in the third quarter. Just kidding. Seriously though, where has Grant Williams been? Can he get some minutes tonight? You can’t tell me he’s not good enough to play at all. Also, the Celtics just need to put a complete game’s worth of focused effort together. They can’t afford to be slow on 3-point closeouts again. They need to space the floor better too.
CR: Carving out more minutes for Grant Williams is the obvious lineup tweak for Joe Mazzulla, especially given his success against Bam Adebayo during last year’s ECF. But I’ll opt for Mazzulla limiting the number of minutes Boston’s “double bigs” lineup logs together in Game 2. Inserting Rob Williams into the starting lineup against the Sixers in Games 6 and 7 arguably saved Boston’s season. Still, Miami picked them apart defensively with uncontested mid-range jumpers and other easy baskets on Wednesday. That five-man grouping has had plenty of success together, but it may not be the best matchup against this Heat team.
Game 1 was frustratingly familiar, but Celtics should still win this series — 8:00 p.m.
By Chad Finn
I should have known better, but I was duped by the convincing way that Jayson Tatum and the rest of the Celtics closed out the 76ers series. I took the Games 6 and 7 victories as signs of maturity, when in reality that also was more or less a repeat of what they did against the Bucks in the second round last year.
The Celtics didn’t learn any hard lesson. There was no real progress. If anything, it reiterated their dangerous belief that they can turn their intensity on and off like a spigot — within a game and a series — and still prevail in the end.
That nonsense won’t cut it against the mentally and physically tough Heat. Read the rest of Finn’s column here.
Will TD Garden be a house of horrors or a Garden Party? — 7:45 p.m.
By Nicole Yang
After losing to Miami in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday night, the Celtics are now 4-4 on their parquet floor this postseason. They are the only remaining playoff team to lose at home, with the Nuggets, Lakers, and Heat all staying undefeated.
Why does this team repeatedly let go of the rope? How do you explain the lack of urgency at this stage of the postseason? What can be done so a meltdown doesn’t happen again?
On Wednesday, the players made it clear that effort is largely the root cause of their lapses.
“The only thing we need to adjust to is picking up our physicality and playing some damn defense,” guard Marcus Smart said after Miami’s 123-116 win. “They just upped their physicality and that’s it. There’s nothing tactical, X’s and O’s. It’s just come out and guard your yard.”
Jaylen Brown called playing with physicality “a choice.”
“It’s a decision,” Brown said. “We came out too cool. It was just almost like we were just playing a regular-season game. It’s the Eastern Conference finals. Like, come on. We’ve got to play with more intensity than we did.”
And while you’re at it — sign up for Garden Party, your newsletter companion for the playoffs. It will arrive in your inbox every day mid-morning until the Celtics’ season is over.
What will Joe Mazzulla do with the Celtics’ rotation tonight? — 7:30 p.m.
By Adam Himmelsbach
The Celtics have taken pride in their depth all season. When there were injuries or illnesses, coach Joe Mazzulla simply looked down his bench and called upon the next capable option, and the team rarely missed a beat.
But the Celtics have been healthy throughout the playoffs, and postseason rotations are condensed. For the most part, Mazzulla has stuck with a seven-man rotation, with an eighth player sometimes receiving spot minutes.
Robert Williams or Derrick White starts the game and the other has a substantial role off the bench, along with Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon. But the final spot has been less clear, with Sam Hauser, Grant Williams, and now Payton Pritchard getting looks.
Pritchard hadn’t received a meaningful chance this postseason but played nearly 12 minutes in the 123-116 loss to the Heat Wednesday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. He missed both of his 3-point attempts, registered one assist, and was targeted several times by Heat forward Jimmy Butler, who looked to overpower the 6-foot-1-inch guard by backing him into the post.
It’s unclear whether Mazzulla will go back to Pritchard in Game 2 at TD Garden Friday night. Mazzulla generally sticks with sources of success, and the Game 1 loss certainly was not a successful night. And Pritchard did not make a shot.
But he was on the floor for just 2:32 of the third quarter, when the game was lost after the Heat outscored the Celtics, 46-25. The Celtics were outscored by 3 points during Pritchard’s time on the court.
The continued absence of Grant Williams, meanwhile, remains somewhat puzzling.
The forward averaged 25.9 minutes per game during the regular season, and that figure has been sliced in half during the playoffs. That does not even account for the five games in which he has not played at all.
The Heat connected on 16 of 31 3-pointers in Game 1, and Grant Williams is a big man with the versatility to be effective guarding the perimeter. He also played well in last season’s seven-game conference finals against the Heat, averaging 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds in 30.4 minutes per game. He made 38.9 percent of his 3-pointers in that series and held his own against Heat center Bam Adebayo, a former high school rival.
Grant Williams has shown that he can contribute even after being sidelined for lengthy stretches. He sat out the first two games of the opening-round series against the Hawks and then connected on all four of his 3-point attempts in Game 3. He played just four minutes in the Game 1 loss to the 76ers in the conference semifinals, then drilled four more 3-pointers in the Game 2 win.
Boston Globe Today: Himmelsbach on Jimmy Butler and what changes the Celtics need to make — 7:20 p.m.
Adam Himmelsbach spoke with Chris Gasper on Boston Globe Today: Sports about tonight’s game.
‘He knows who I am’ — 7:15 p.m.
Jimmy Butler got a little starstruck by Ernie Johnson.
Jayson Tatum’s got some new merch — 7:10 p.m.
Tonight’s Celtics lineup: Rob William will start, Brogdon available — 7:00 p.m.
The Celtics are sticking to the double-big lineup for Game 2, coach Joe Mazzulla confirmed before tip-off. Robert Williams proved to be an effective change against Philadelphia, but he finished a team-worst negative-14 in Game 1 against Miami. We’ll see if the Heat continue to generate open looks with him on the floor.
Malcolm Brogdon is available, Mazzulla said. He was listed as probable with a right forearm strain.
Inside what fans will see at TD Garden tonight — 6:55 p.m.
Here are some notes about what fans will see tonight at the Garden:
The giveaway is a “Beat the Heat” rally towel.
The Celtics’ “Heroes Among Us” honorees — a group that always gets cheers — will be the Henry family. DJ Henry, who grew up in Easton, was killed by police in 2010 while celebrating after a Pace University football game in New York. The Henry family started a foundation, the DJ Henry Dream Fund, which provides scholarships for students.
‘This man worse than Drake’ — 6:45 p.m.
Why on earth would Micah Parsons wear a Sixers jersey one night and a Celtics jersey the next?
The Cowboys linebacker — who is from Pennsylvania — got called out for this transgression by Patriots linebacker Matt Judon.
“This man worse than Drake,” Judon wrote on Twitter. “Bandwagon.”
But now we have an explanation! Parsons’s No. 0 jersey was a gift from Jayson Tatum himself. He wasn’t trying to start anything, just “Showing love to one of the best players in the league.”
We’ll see what other kind of celebs are on hand for tonight.
Watch: TNT’s Kenny Smith dissects the Celtics’ Game 1 loss on Boston Globe Today — 6:30 p.m.
Kenny Smith, a popular analyst on TNT’s “Inside the NBA” whose 10-year NBA career included two championships, joined host Segun Oduolowu on Boston Globe Today on Thursday to discuss the Celtics’ loss to the Miami Heat in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals playoff series.
Smith also discussed his new book, “Talk of Champions: Stories of the People Who Made Me: A Memoir,” which was released May 9.
Additional content from Boston Globe Today, which airs Monday through Friday on NESN at 5 p.m., is available on the show’s page on BostonGlobe.com.
Chad Finn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him @GlobeChadFinn. Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her @nicolecyang. Khari Thompson can be reached at email@example.com. Conor Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Katie McInerney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her @k8tmac.