Sunday, October 1 2023

Smart gives candid take on C’s third-quarter woes vs. Heat originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

One nightmare quarter was all it took for the Boston Celtics to drop Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Miami Heat.

After taking a nine-point lead into the half, the C’s watched Miami quickly cut into the deficit in the third quarter. Before they knew it, the Heat had tallied a whopping 46 points in the frame. It was the only quarter Boston lost, but it was enough to propel Miami to a 123-116 win at TD Garden.

Celtics-Heat takeaways: Dismal third quarter costs C’s in Game 1

As great as the Celtics have been all season, they have been prone to lapses like the one they had on Wednesday night. Marcus Smart didn’t mince words about the team’s inconsistency.

“We get tired of doing the little things sometimes,” the C’s guard said after the Game 1 loss. “I think that showed at times in our spacing. We have a lot of great players, but when we’re all on top of each other, nobody can be great.

“You’ve got a good defensive team like Miami, they’ll make you pay for that. So we’ve got to make sure we do those little things and we can’t get bored with those. And we’ve got to realize what has got us the lead or what was working for us.”

Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla didn’t call a timeout during Miami’s third-quarter eruption. Given his history of holding onto timeouts, he’ll likely face a fair amount of criticism for his inaction. Especially since the Heat squashed the Celtics’ 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter after Erik Spoelstra’s timeout.

But if you ask Smart, this one was on the players. Not Mazzulla.

“Joe’s real big on not bailing us out when we’re playing like (expletive),” Smart said. “We’ve got to look at ourselves in the mirror. Joe can call a timeout and then what? We come out and do the same thing? So it’s on us.

“Joe and this coaching staff, they put in a lot of work to come up with a gameplan and put us in the right spots to succeed. But they’re not out there playing. So we’ve got to come together and we’ve got to start helping each other out on both ends.”

Smart was a bright spot in the 123-116 defeat, dishing 10 assists in the first half to tie Rajon Rondo’s franchise record for assists in one half of a playoff game. He finished with 13 points, 11 assists, and two steals.

But he and the Celtics will need to play a more complete Game 2 to avoid going down 2-0 in the series. Tip-off is set for 8:30 p.m. ET Friday at TD Garden.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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