UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Celtics crushing defeat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals

The journey is now over for the  Boston Celtics. After sweeping the Philadelphia 76ers and knocking the Toronto Raptors out in seven games, the Celtics have been defeated in the Eastern Conference Finals by a Miami Heat team that was widely underrated by many. Sunday, Sept. 27 was the last official day of the Celtics season as they lost a six-point lead early in the fourth quarter, ultimately losing 125113.

One of the biggest problems was the energy that the Celtics played with. Often, the Heat looked like they wanted the win more than the Celtics. There were so many moments where you can literally see how badly the Heat wanted to win, whether it was Tyler Herro in game two grabbing virtually every rebound, Bam Adebayo being dominant in the paint, or Jimmy Butler closing out games with crucial shots and steals in the fourth quarter. There were games the Celtics were playing well but couldn’t close, like game one, where they lost a 14 point lead in the fourth quarter, and game two, where they lost a 17 point lead at half time.

The Celtics were about as consistent as a coin toss with each quarter, leaving only one question, every time: Which Celtics are we going to get? Tatum had two games this series where he struggled in the first half and turned it on in the second; in total he shot only 30 percent from three and 41 percent from the field. While he did play amazingly in those second halves, if he had played like that throughout the game, the Celtics would probably still be playing. As for Kemba Walker, he had a similar problem to Tatum in terms of his consistency. During this series he averaged 19 points a game, only a point down from his regular season, where he only shot 42 percent from the field and 34 percent from three, both below league average. This is Walker’s first time going deep into the playoffs, but regardless, the Celtics expect more from him.

Another tragedy of these playoffs is the story of Gordon Hayward. It seems he could not catch a break. Year after year, he is either missing  games due to an injury, or not playing well because he is coming off an injury. In the first round of these playoffs, lightning struck again. In game one of the 76ers series, he went down with an ankle injury. This declared him unplayable until game three of the Heat series, where he only scored six points despite winning that game. This is especially unfortunate when you take into account that Gordon Hayward had to make the big decision of missing the birth of his child to remain in the bubble and play in this series. Robyn Hayward gave birth to a healthy son on Sept. 23, while Gordon sacrificed both this moment and his body to play the rest of this series. When asked about the possible benefits from this playoff run after losing in game six, Brad Stevens said: “I just think the experience of playing, the experience of adding new things to the group … we are going to lean on a couple of those guys that were making plays for a long time.”

Despite losing, however, this season wasn’t a complete waste of time. The Celtics have seen serious growth from their young core. Tatum has stepped from last year to claim his title as the best player on the team, bumping his scoring from 15 points to 23 points per game, and earning his first all-star appearance of his career. He has also stepped up on the defensive side of the ball, utilizing his strength and athleticism well to guard bigger threats on the floor. Another player to see growth is Jaylen Brown improving from 13 points per game to 20 points. He has remained a great defensive player alongside Marcus Smart, who made the all-defensive first team in back-to-back years. And while not part of the young core nor playing much in the playoffs, we got to see glimpses of all-star Gordon Hayward as he averaged 17 points this season. He has one year of his contract left on the books where he will be making about 31 million dollars, and the Celtics will have to decide if they want to keep him or use that money to fill the hole at center.

About the Contributor
Josemanuel Cruz, Sports Writer