The Celtics Just Went Into Miami And Dropped The Hammer On The Heat To Win Game 3 In Dominant Fashion

Megan Briggs. Getty Images.


Now that was the response I've spent the last 3 days praying for. Ever since the clock hit 0.0 on the Celtics shameful Game 2 loss, life has been pretty brutal. I haven't slept for shit given the fact that I kept staring at my ceiling trying to understand how the hell that performance was possible. Then you mix in the anticipation for Game 3 and it's been a hell of a few days.

So for the Celts to come out and from the opening tip completely control this game and ultimately win in dominant fashion just like they did in Game 1, was big time. It did wonders for my mental health I'll tell you that much. This was their opportunity to respond and regain control of this series, and what we got was a completely locked-in on both ends of the floor performance for a full 48 minutes. The energy was great, the defense was a billion times better, they took care of the basketball and most importantly they played winning basketball.

If anything, it made what happened in Game 2 even more annoying. This is how we know the Celtics can play, because this is how they've played virtually every single night since October. It's not as if they did anything crazy to pull out this road win, they were just much better in terms of their execution. Better ball pressure, better execution of schemes, and back to being balanced offensively, when the Celts check all these boxes they are extremely tough to beat.

What you love about a game like this is they spend exactly zero minutes fucking around. There was no playing with their food at any point really, which is exactly what you're looking for as a fan heading into Game 3. We knew that as long as this team didn't play like complete dickheads, a result like this was entirely possible. We just saw it in Game 1, so there's no reason it couldn't happen in Game 3. Much like that 14-0 start in Game 1, the Celts got off to a 12-3 start tonight, and from there they simply became too overwhelming.

Once Mazzulla took away the Heat's 3PA and they couldn't make a franchise record 23, their offense cratered. When you take away the one way the Heat could keep it close on one end, and then on the other end you have the Jays doing their thing


and you get a great bounce back performance from Kristaps Porzingis who told us he would be better

and then delivered a dominant two way 18 point performance

not to mention the backcourt was tremendous. This really was a complete team effort, which is exactly how you win on the road in the playoffs.

Aside from the basketball stuff, this was also big from a mentality standpoint. Listen, through their own play the Celts certainly gave people a reason to drag them. How they would respond to that was very important. As a team that barely lost two in a row all season, today was a game that had to be a reminder of just how good this team is. The Heat with all the momentum in the world, could the Celts go in their building and completely eliminate it?

Yes. Yes they could. 

But here's the thing. That's only Step 1. While securing at least a split was very important, the purpose of this trip was not to win 1 game. It's to win both. And then once you win both, you don't come back to Miami until the 2024-25 season. As great as winning Game 3 is, you cannot immediately give it back and drop Game 4. This presents the Celts with another challenge of seeing if they can step on throats and deliver knockout blows. They failed that test in Game 2, so here you go. Win Game 4, go up 3-1, and really put the pressure on as you return to the Garden for Game 5 with a chance to end the series. That shouldn't just be the goal, that should be the expectation.

In the same way it was unlikely that the Heat would shoot 50% from deep as a team again, it's also unlikely that they shoot as poorly (32%) as they did today in Game 4. The good news is, chances are the Celtics will shoot a whole lot better than their 29% from deep as well. Finding a way to blowout a team without making any 3s? That feels pretty important.

We'll dive in more tomorrow, but for now we exhale. The resilient team we watched all season did what they did best and punched back. Now it's time to build on it and keep moving forward.

2 down, 14 to go.