Monday, May 22, 2023

Heat 128, Celtics 102: Gabe Vincent forces Boston to brink of elimination in Game 3 [MIA leads series, 3-0]

The Celtics for the second straight series find themselves on the brink of elimination, following a 128-102 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 3 Sunday night.

Gabe Vincent led all scorers with 29 points on 6-of-9 from 3-point territory, while Duncan Robinson had 22 points on 5-of-7 from deep. Caleb Martin added 18 points off the bench and Jimmy Butler chipped in 16 points, eight rebounds, six assists for the Heat, who have a commanding 3-0 Eastern Conference Finals lead and are 6-0 at home so far this postseason.

Jayson Tatum netted 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown recorded 12 points, six rebounds. Both All-NBA forwards combined for 12-of-35 shooting, including 1-of-14 from behind the arc and six turnovers in the C's third consecutive loss.
"To their credit, they're playing well above their means," Brown said in his postgame comments. "They're ballin' right now and I've got to give them respect. Gabe Vincent, Martin, Strus, Duncan Robinson, guys that we should be able to keep under control are playing their ass off."
Payton Pritchard (five assists), Grant Williams each contributed with 12 points each and Luke Kornet had 11 points mostly in garbage time off the bench.

The Celtics had a 12-9 lead in the first quarter -- their largest margin, before Vincent hit his second 3-pointer of the night to put Miami ahead for good with 5:04 remaining in the opening quarter.

Boston trailed 61-46 at the break and a three-point play by Marcus Smart (nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists), sparked a 28-7 run by the Heat to really blow the game wide open at the start of the second half -- giving the home team a 33-point advantage and 4:44 left in the period.

With the C's behind 93-63 to start the final frame and another disaster of a third quarter (reminiscent of Game 1), head coach Joe Mazzulla emptied his bench.
"I just didn't have them ready to play" said Mazzulla after the his team was outscored 32-17 in the third quarter. "Whatever it was, whether it was the starting lineup or an adjustment, I have to get them in a better place, ready to play. That's on me."
The Celtics coming off back-to-back six point losses in both Game 1 and Game 2 at home, let another Miami run do them in, despite already being down double-digits -- but this time on the road.
"I don't even know where to start," Brown said. "It's an obvious letdown. I feel like we let our fan base, organization down. We let ourselves down. And it was collective. We can point fingers, but in reality, it was just embarrassing."
Boston will look to stave off being swept by the Heat Tuesday night, as Game 4 is scheduled for an 8:30 ET tip-off on TNT.

Game Notes:

The Celtics were 39.8% from the field, including 11-of-42 (26.2%) from 3-point range, while Miami hit 56.8% of their attempts and 19-of-35 (54.3%) from long distance. Boston won the rebound battle 57-35 and outscored the home team in the paint 52-42. The C's dished out 25 assists (15 turnovers) on 39 baskets and the Heat also dished out 25 dimes (10 turnovers) on 46 made shots.

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of USA Today

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