A couple days off might help. After another meltdown, the Celtics reportedly had an animated and loud locker room spirited by Marcus Smart after Game 2. They’ll need to reverse course quickly with Game 3 looming on Saturday and reportedly won’t practice today. If they can avoid a 3-0 hole and make this a series, there’s even more respite ahead.
With the Eastern Conference Finals already two games ahead of the impending Lakers-Nuggets series out west, Boston and Miami will get three days off between Games 3 and 4. Here’s the rest of the schedule:
Updated NBA Eastern Conference schedules pic.twitter.com/kTfJuBZQHS— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpears) September 18, 2020
The break between games is significant. After disposing the Bucks in five games, the Heat enjoyed a week off before Game 1 of the ECF. the Celtics, on the other hand, went the full seven games against the Raptors and had half the break that Miami did.
There’s also the long awaited return of Gordon Hayward. It’s hard not to think that Hayward could have tipped the scales in Boston’s favor in both losses and he seems close to coming back. He’s shuttled between “doubtful” and “out” statuses over the last couple of days and Brad Stevens has said that their ramping up activity in his workouts. It’s been thirty-one days since he went down with a Grade 3 sprain that had a 4-6 week prognosis. Even if he’s on the front end of the estimated recovery time, he’s also scheduled to leave the bubble sometime in late September for the birth of his first son.
Game 3 is tomorrow night at 8:30 pm EST.