The Boston Celtics traveled to Miami with their backs against the wall. On Sunday, the Heat forced the Celtics into an even more uncomfortable position while obliterating Boston fans’ championship dreams with a 128-102 victory. After leading 61-46 at halftime, the Heat started the third quarter on a 28-10 run to expand their lead to 33 points, effectively putting a quick end to Game 3.
Photo Cred: CNN
The Celtics appeared extremely disorganized on the offensive end and started showing major frustration as early as the second quarter. Gabe Vincent scored a career-high 29 points for the victors, shooting 11-for-14 from the field. The Heat put on a clinic from behind the arc all night, finishing 19-for-35 on 3-point attempts, good for 54.3%. On the other hand, the Celtics shot 11-for-42 from long range.
Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin came off the bench for the Heat and added offensive firepower. Robinson went 5-for-7 from distance, finishing with 22 points in 23 minutes. After scoring 25 points in Game 2, Martin had 18 more on Sunday. The Heat now stand one win away from reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since 2020 when they defeated the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. According to Basketball Reference, teams leading a playoff series 3-0 have advanced 110 out of 110 times since 1984. The 8-seeded Heat could also become the second 8-seed to reach the NBA Finals if they win one of the next four games against Boston.
Photo Cred: AZ Central
After the game, Celtics Head Coach Joe Mazzula told reporters, “I just didn’t have them (The Celtics) ready to play.” Mazzula has been under a lot of fire this postseason for his decision-making, and Game 3 will not help him in that regard. After the Heat went on a run to extend their lead to 20 in the second quarter, the Celtics looked unenthusiastic and done. The offense resorted to hoisting up three-pointers without any ball movement, and the whole team seemed more focused on complaining to the officials.
Jaylen Brown struggled again in Game 3, scoring 12 points while recording a +/- of -25 in just 28 minutes. Brown is now shooting 2-for-20 from 3-point range in the series while attempting just four free throws. He has yet to tally a steal or block and has more turnovers than assists. Despite history saying that the series is over, it is not.
Photo Cred: Boston.com
The Celtics still must show up in Game 4 to avoid future embarrassment and give themselves a chance to make a series out of this. The question is, will they be able to respond positively after a blowout? Game four is tonight, Tuesday, at 8:30 EST in Miami. Either the Heat will advance to the NBA Finals, or the Celtics will extend the series to a fifth game, sending the two sides back to Boston, where anything can happen.