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A stinging loss: 10 Takeaways from Boston Celtics-Miami Heat

A stinging loss: 10 Takeaways from Boston Celtics-Miami Heat

1. The Boston Celtics were down three starters and their sixth man at the Miami Heat on Tuesday night. No Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Smart or Malcolm Brogdon. The remaining 11 players were on a back-to-back. This one had the makings of a loss, and possibly a blowout loss, written all over it.

It many ways, a blowout loss might have been preferrable. Then, it wouldn’t have stung so much.

The shorthanded Celtics battled valiantly and were in position to win in the fourth quarter. With 8:47 to play, Boston took an 87-77 lead when Rob Williams finished off a highlight lob from Derrick White.

The Celtics next score came when Jayson Tatum hit an and-1 floater with 2:19 to play.

For 6:28 of gametime, Boston went scoreless, while Miami went on a 15-0 run. 0-for-10 shooting over that stretch with one turnover mixed in.

The process was good. The Celtics generated good looks; they just didn’t fall. Three-pointers, midrange jumpers, shots in the paint. Nothing would fall.

Yet, they still had a chance at the very end.

2. This space, along with lots and lots of louder spaces, have criticized Joe Mazzulla’s timeout usage this season. Or, better put, lack of timeout usage.

This wasn’t that…until it was.

Mazzulla used a couple of timeouts in this game to try and quell Miami runs. It’s fair to suggest that in the middle of the fourth quarter mess, he should have called one earlier, but that’s getting a little nitpicky.

What isn’t nitpicky is the end of the game. Here’s what happened:

Let’s break it down some.

Bam Adebayo hit a jumper with 20.4 seconds remaining to give Miami a 97-95 lead. Mazzulla, as do many coaches, elected to go no-timeout. He said postgame that he didn’t want to give Miami the chance to sub and get matched up. It’s also a strategy that many coaches prefer, as it gives their team a chance to go against a non-set defense.

That’s all well and good, right up until the point where it’s clear Miami is sending two defenders at Jayson Tatum and things have bogged down. At about the six-second mark, this play has gotten messy. Boston is sitting on two timeouts. They could, and should, have called one to reset and run something. The Celtics have done very well on ATO’s all season long, this was a spot for one.

Now, we aren’t going to put all the blame on Joe Mazzulla here. There are five other guys who can call timeout. When things bogged down, any one of the five players on the floor could have called a…

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