Friday, May 19, 2023

Malcolm Brogdon calls Celtics loss in East Finals opener 'a mental game at this point'

The Celtics never quite recovered from a 46-25 Miami Heat run in the third quarter of their 123-116 Game 1 loss Wednesday night.

Boston never led again following the 6:28 mark in the third period, getting as close as four with less than five minutes left top play. In the end the C's were outscored 66-50 in the second half by the Heat and dropped to 4-4 at TD Garden this postseason.
"Not taking care of the ball, I think that's what's going to stick out to people," said Malcolm Brogdon after Wednesday's game. "But I think the third quarter we gave up 45 or 46 points, so...that hurts. It's hard to recover from that."
The Celtics turned the ball over 15 times which led to 26 fast break points for Miami, who also shot 54.1% overall from the field -- including 16-of-31 (51.6%) from deep.

Despite having a nine-point advantage at the break, Boston watched the Heat use a 19-9 run to start the second half as head coach Joe Mazzulla didn't call a single timeout during the whole third quarter. Brogdon, much like Marcus Smart did, defended Mazzulla by saying their coach shouldn't always have to bail them out.
 "I mean, he can call the timeout," said Brogdon in his coach's defense. "But that's on us to pay attention to the details and come out and really just be better all around."
Remaining focused and locked-in on a nightly basis has been an issue for the Celtics all season and even as far back as the prior two seasons with Ime Udoka and Brad Stevens at the helm respectively as head coaches of this core and roaster. Brogdon, meanwhile, believes his teammates lacked one thing during their loss in Game 1.
"They're tough, just mentally," said Brogdon of Miami. "This is a mental game at this point. We know their tendencies, they know ours, but extra possessions, offensive rebounds -- I think they played with more poise on their offensive end than we did on our offensive end tonight. They got every shot they wanted to, and really took their time. So I think we can do a better job of that next game."
The Celtics have lost four of their last six home games and while offense hasn't been an issue for the most part, the lack of defense keeps rearing it's ugly head at the worst possible moment when it comes to being in the Eastern Conference Finals.
"It definitely is human nature," said Brogdon on the C's leaning more on their offense at times. "But I think all year we've been good at coming out, having good starts, and for the most part playing 48 minutes. Tonight, we didn't, and we will next time."
Boston, who typically bounce back in the playoffs after a loss, will look to avoid a 2-0 series hole in the East Finals when they host the Heat in Game 2 tonight. TNT has the tip-off at 8:30 ET. 

Joel Pavón

Photo used courtesy of The Associated Press

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