Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 21: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics helps up Jayson Tatum #0 during the first quarter against the Miami Heat in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals at Kaseya Center on May 21, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown both struggled mightily and the Boston Celtics unraveled in ugly fashion against the Miami Heat on Sunday night, falling in Game 3 by a 128-102 final. The Heat took a 93-63 lead into the fourth quarter, and both teams emptied their benches. Miami now leads the series 3-0.

Tatum and Brown combined for just 26 points on 12-for-35 shooting (34.3 percent). That included an abysmal 1-for-14 rate on three-pointers, underscoring a hugely disappointing effort for the Celtics’ two stars, especially considering the stakes. There’s never been a comeback from a 3-0 series deficit in NBA Playoffs history, and the Celtics certainly haven’t shown many signs that they’re capable of pulling it off.

  • MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 21: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat knocks the ball away from Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics during the first quarter in game three of the Eastern Conference Finals at Kaseya Center on May 21, 2023 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images)

    Megan Briggs/Getty Images

  • Boston kept Jimmy Butler in check in the early going, but Miami responded well with a hot start by their other starters and bench. Miami shot 57.9 percent as a team in the first, led by Caleb Martin’s eight-point spark off the bench.

    Heat starters Kevin Love, Gabe Vincent, and Max Strus pitched in five points each on a combined 6-for-8 shooting, picking up the slack for Butler’s two first-quarter points. The Celtics, meanwhile, got 13 combined points from Tatum and Brown and nine from everyone else, while shooting just 41.7 percent as a team. And that would essentially be the high point of the game for Tatum and Brown.

  • The Heat continued to extend their lead into the early part of the second quarter. An explosive Bam Adebayo alley-0op dunk off a feed from Duncan Robinson highlighted a quick 6-2 run that made it 45-32 Heat and prompted a Boston timeout.

    Miami would lead by as many as 22 points during the second quarter. Boston was able to close the second quarter on a 9-2 run, but still ended up down 15 at halftime, their biggest such deficit of the playoffs so far. Miami shot 57.5 percent as a team in the first half. Tatum and Brown combined for 19 points on just 9-for-24 shooting.

  • The Miami onslaught continued in the third, with a 32-17 dismantling that ballooned the lead out of reach. Heat guard Gabe Vincent especially caught fire in the second half, and finished with a game-high 29 points while shooting 11-for-14 (78.6 percent).

    Boston has one more opportunity to extend its season in Tuesday’s Game 4 at the Kaseya Center. They will certainly need a better effort overall, but especially from Tatum and Brown, if they want to have any hope of a miracle.

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    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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