Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics walks off the court after the 104-94 loss against the Golden State Warriors in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 13, 2022 in San Francisco, California. Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images


  • The Boston Celtics just could not solve the Miami Heat puzzle
  • Their loss in Game 3 proved to be indicative of problems hounding the Celtics
  • History is not on the side of the Celtics entering Game 4

The Boston Celtics entered the 2023 NBA playoffs with the hope of returning to the NBA Finals after they were bested by the Golden State Warriors in six games last season.

However, the Miami Heat have exposed a lot more problems bubbling underneath the surface of the Celtics' vaunted core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart.

Entering the playoffs as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and following the shocking ouster of the Milwaukee Bucks at the hands of the Heat in the first round, their most ardent supporters saw the Philadelphia 76ers as the only thing standing in their way of making it out of the East.

After tying up the series at three games apiece, Tatum dropped a 51-point masterpiece in Game 7 to set up a matchup with the Heat.

The Celtics were viewed as minus-500 favorites compared to the Heat's plus-375 underdog status according to BetMGM.

It was proving to be that the oddsmakers were correct in the first two games of the series as the Celtics had a nine-point lead in the halftime of Game 1 and the same number of points against the Heat in the fourth quarter of Game 2.

Those leads would be squandered in spectacular fashion thanks to the efforts anchored by Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry to turn into a 2-0 series lead for Miami.

But at the conclusion of Game 3, the Celtics' lack of urgency saw them be forced into a 3-0 hole.

There were few criticisms of Boston's game entering the playoffs, though the Heat had answers and more to everything that they were throwing at the reigning kings of the Eastern Conference.

Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The team's mentality as a whole was shot early on as they lacked any semblance of effort for the better part of the first half which allowed the Heat to build a lead that went as high as 33 points.

Tatum's dismal showings in the final quarters of Games 1 and 2 reared its head by the end of the second quarter as he only had nine points to his name in a crucial must-win situation for his squad.

For context, Brown led the team in scoring at that point with 10.

Especially in such situations, the reason why front offices and team owners shell out the big bucks to big stars is that they are expected to show up when it matters most.

Though if this year's postseason is anything to go by, it is that having the right type of role players can spell the difference between success and failure.

Tatum, Brown and Smart appear to not have the same type of effort to go all out like Butler, Adebayo and Lowry have done since the start of the series.

Curiously enough, the only time the Celtics outscored the Heat was in the final frame when guys like Payton Pritchard and Mike Muscala were on the floor against Lowry, Duncan Robinson, Nikola Jovic and Haywood Highsmith.

Boston head coach Joe Mazzulla said in the postgame press conference that he did not put his team in a position to succeed by not preparing them.

Now, the Celtics will need to pull off an all-time great performance in Game 4 in the hopes of extending the series to Game 5 and beyond.

History shows that no team has ever come back when down 3-0 in a series, and if the past three games are an indication, the Celtics have no shot at being the first ones to do so.

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
#22 Jimmy Butler of the Miami Heat. Heat Nation/Twitter