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Celtics fail to come back from down 26 in Game 3, lose 109-103

Boston did literally everything wrong in the first half and ran out of time to dig out of the hole.

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics - Game Three Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics went down by 26 in the first half, and through multiple injuries, they were unable to overcome a balanced offensive effort from the Heat going to lose Game 3 109-103. Jaylen Brown led the way with his 40 points, and for Miami, Bam Adebayo was stellar, finishing the game with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Brown also led the way with 7 turnovers.

Pretty much everything went Miami’s way for most of the first half, winning the first quarter by 21 points. Bam Adebayo outscored both his Game 1 and 2 performance combined and was an offensive hub, scoring in both face-up and post-up situations. Jimmy Butler finally cooled off, but he was still a steadying presence that contributed run-stopping buckets at unfortunate times for the Celtics. Kyle Lowry (11 points, 4 steals) returned, and although he was limited from a minutes perspective, he was an absolute pest on both ends of the ball.

For a while in the second quarter, the Celtics looked like they were about to get it going only for some self-inflicted wounds to rear their ugly heads at ill-timed moments. Boston committed 11 first-half turnovers, with all of those turnovers coming from the starters (including two from Daniel Theis in just 7 minutes of play and three apiece for Al Horford and Jayson Tatum). That combined with poor 3-point shooting really harmed all comeback efforts. Just wen Boston was able to make a dent, Miami ballooned the lead back to 25.

With 1:45 left in the half, Al Horford (20 points, 14 rebounds) took matters into his own hands, spurring a quick 10-0 run to take the Celtics into the locker room. This cut a 26-point deficit to just 15 with half of the game left.

Jimmy Butler was ruled out of the second half with knee inflammation. Early in the second half, Marcus Smart went for an offensive rebound only for Kyle Lowry to land awkwardly on his right ankle. All of Lowry’s weight landed on him.

Boston came roaring back after Smart’s injury, getting the crowd back in the game. In a moment that will likely go down in Celtics history, Smart came back out of the locker room to deafening cheers from the Boston crowd. In his first touch back on the floor, Marcus Smart pump faked, got his defender in the air, and hit a massive 3-pointer with a BANG call from Mike Breen that led to me levitating in my living room. Surreal moment; you just had to be there. Smart finished with 16 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds.

Boston had all the momentum and could have cut into the deficit a bit more, but three turnovers from Jaylen Brown and two from Smart killed a lot of the momentum for Boston. Really loose handling of the ball, and in a quarter where the Heat played without the best player and Boston cut the deficit to just 9, Miami still went into the fourth quarter up by 15 points.

After a shaky start to the fourth, Smart drew a charge on Caleb Martin, which led to an aggressive stretch of offense from Boston (an 8-0 run). 10 minutes of stoppages later, another Jaylen Brown turnover got the lead back up to 11 by Miami. A loose ball sequence after a turnover and a massive chase-down block led to Tatum writhing on the floor in pain.

With Tatum off the floor, Jaylen Brown went into full star mode, driving relentlessly to the basket to close the gap to four just in time for Tatum to return to the game (once again to a raucous Garden crowd).

Down the stretch, the Celtics lost their composure with a few careless turnovers from Jayson Tatum. Brown gave Boston some hope toward the end as he reached 40 points, but turnovers and bad fouls really doomed Boston as they ended up with 23 turnovers, a playoff-high for the team. That’s impossible to overcome when you literally gift the ball that much. Miami scored 33 points off of those 23 TOs. Miami earned a franchise-best 19 steals as Boston was careless all night long.

A flagrant-1 from Grant Williams sealed it, and the Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead and homecourt advantage. Game 4 is Monday night at 8:30 p.m. EST.

For more postgame coverage of the failed comeback, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss Smart’s ankle injury and Jimmy Butler’s absence.

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