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“Turnovers” was the only word in the Celtics’ Game 3 dictionary

The Celtics turned the ball over an unfathomable 24 times.

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

The Boston Celtics gave away Game 3 against the Miami Heat. Literally.

Their 24 turnovers tied the most in a playoff game this season by any team. The only other squad to record that number of giveaways in a game was the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 1 against the Toronto Raptors. The big difference is, the Sixers won their game.

Boston recorded at least five turnovers in every single quarter of the contest. They had five in the first, six in the second, seven in the third, and five in the fourth. It was a truly incredible feat that prevented them from mounting one of the most improbable comeback victories in postseason franchise history.

Head coach Ime Udoka spoke about the turnovers and said that while the Celtics were able to climb all the way back, they dug themselves in too big of a hole to overcome.

You turn the ball over 24 times and gift them 33 points out of that, you dig yourself a hole. Credit, we fought back and got into a one-point game, they made some mistakes and some more turnovers, but you dig yourself in that big of a hole due to playing in the crowd.

While the Heat managed to produce 33 points off of Boston’s turnovers, the Celtics only scrounged up nine points on nine Miami turnovers. That’s a 24-point difference in a game that was decided by just six points. Big man Al Horford commented on this as well, stating that “it seemed like every time we put ourselves in a position, we turned it over.”

The Celtics’ carelessness also helped the Heat set a new franchise record. Their 19 steals were the most ever in a playoff game for Miami. It was a team effort, too, as three different players had four steals (Kyle Lowry, Bam Adebayo, and Victory Oladipo), and four others had at least one.

Notching 24 turnovers took a team effort, but Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the way. The star duo combined for 13 giveaways, as Brown had seven and Tatum six. Brown owned up to his ball-handling issues and explaining what he needs to do better.

Did a s*** job today of taking care of the basketball. But, just being stronger, you know. Driving, I’m gonna keep being aggressive, I’m gonna keep getting to the basket, I’m gonna keep doing what I do, but be stronger when I get in there.

Brown has had issues dribbling in traffic for most of the postseason, and those problems caught up with him again on Saturday night. Of his seven turnovers, six of them came while he was trying to make a move toward the hoop. The other was an errant pass where he attempted to get the ball to Grant Williams down low.

This play is emblematic of Brown’s struggles. His handle is extremely loose, and even when he gets past an initial defender, he loses control and gives up possession, allowing Miami to get an easy bucket on the other end.

Tatum also talked about the turnovers during his post-game interview. He said that his performance was “unacceptable” and that he left the team hanging with how poorly he played.

Obviously, they played well from the beginning. But you know, six turnovers and no field goals in the second half, that is unacceptable. I gotta play better. I feel like I left the guys hanging tonight. That’s on me. I acknowledge that.

While Brown mainly struggled with his handle, Tatum’s turnovers usually occur in a wider variety of ways. However, they can be boiled down to three problems: bad passes, losing the ball in traffic at the rim, and offensive fouls. Below is an example of each one.

The poor passing decisions were a carry-over from Game 1 when Tatum recorded six turnovers by himself in the third quarter. He’s improved as a playmaker a lot this season, but his lazy passes have killed the Celtics in this series.

During his drives into traffic, Tatum just has to make decisions quicker. Miami’s defense is tough, and once he gets too far into the trees, he’s trapped. And as far as his offensive fouls go, Tatum just has to stop extending his arm. He gets called for that constantly, and defenders are able to look for it now, especially smart defenders like P.J. Tucker.

After a rocky start, Boston turned things around in a big way, but the turnovers persisted. As Horford stated, they just gave the ball away whenever they got close. They’ll have an opportunity to bounce back in Game 4, as they have all season, and taking care of the basketball will undoubtedly be the top priority.

Game 4 is set to tip off on Monday night at 8:30 p.m. EST.

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