Rapid Recap: Celtics collapse late, surrender season to the Heat in Game 6

Rapid Recap: Celtics collapse late, surrender season to the Heat in Game 6

Celtics

Rapid Recap: Celtics collapse late, surrender season to the Heat in Game 6

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Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.

So after my sterling run of recapping playoff wins, I’ve become snakebit, and am now forced to put a postmortem on the Boston Celtics’ final game of 2020. While it doesn’t change that this season in total was successful, Game 6’s loss was agonizing: The Cs started slow, began building momentum and correcting mistakes, and made it all the way to a 6-point lead in Q4 before the defense and effort collapsed in hideous fashion, ending in a 113-125 rout.

Until that meltdown, they went out swinging, with four players scoring 20 or more: Jaylen Brown (26-8-4 and 3 steals), Jayson Tatum (24-7-11-2-1!), Kemba Walker (20-2-5) and Marcus Smart (20-8-2 and 2 steals). But a mediocre shooting night from Hayward (12 points on 41%, with some agonizing misses) and minimal offensive contributions from the rest of the roster, plus a failure to maintain defensive intensity team-wide, meant the Cs were heading home earlier than they’d like.

Neither team looked offensively spry to start. But the Heat got a quick early lead almost entirely on free throws.

After the Celtics built some small momentum, Miami got hot from deep. Things weren’t helped by Jaylen (and other Boston defenders) making uncharacteristic mistakes:

Yet for all that Miami’s lead wasn’t much at the end of Q1:

The Celtics and heat stayed apart by about that margin for the first third of Q2. Boston’s offense warmed up somewhat, but Tatum having another mostly cold start didn’t help; nor did a handful of absurd defensive lapses.

It appears they heard us:

Boston came out energetically to start the second half, but stayed a few points behind Miami due to some dumb fouls, the aforementioned difficulty with getting stops and a few smoked bunnies:

Hayward missing almost every shot he took, an uptick in turnovers and Boston failing to guard Miami’s three-pointer shooters both took a significant toll.

(Don’t care that it was Andre Iguodala shooting those threes; you guard him if he’s on a streak, which he was.)

Lucking out due to Heat misses (and screwups) and some much-needed intensity on both ends from Brown and Smart, the Cs were down just a pair when the Q3 buzzer sounded.

Despite the Cs retaking the game to start Q4, things were far from great:

Fortunately he wasn’t hurt, but all Celtics fans know how often Brown has been undercut on drives in these playoffs. It’s pretty goddamn annoying.

The teams traded leads back and forth throughout the first half of Q4, but Miami always appeared to be just a step ahead. And Daniel Theis fouling out with over five minutes to go was seriously detrimental to the Boston defense.

Time was running out on the game, and potentially the season. And shit like this—resulting from Butler deliberately flailing to generate contact—just made it all seem poisonous.

Things like this, but mostly the Heat’s overall relentlessness, eventually collapsed the Celtics. What had been close for the game’s entirety suddenly turned into a double-digit Miami lead, and that was that.

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