With the Eastern Conference Finals all tied up at one game apiece, the Boston Celtics came out flat at TD Garden, opening the door for the Miami Heat to take control of Game 3 and gain revenge for their mauling just 48 hours earlier.
On the latest episode of CelticsPod, hosts Adam Taylor and Greg Maneikis discussed the Celtics' loss, Tatum’s struggles, and how Miami made a point of attacking the corners in Robert Williams’ absence.
“You can’t do that when you have Robert Williams in that free-safety role. Even if Bam (Adebayo) decides to attack some space or somebody cuts, you still have one of the league’s best rim protectors just waiting for you, just roaming around. I like to think of it like English soccer, with Rob being the goalkeeper, protecting the rim, protecting the net. So, yeah, you might blow past Al Horford, but you’re going to meet Rob somewhere close to that rim, and the shot isn’t going to be there,” Adam Taylor noted during the episode.
The loss against Miami also hurt due to the number of turnovers Tatum and Jaylen Brown generated. Tatum struggled to make an impact, finishing the contest with 10 points on 21.4% shooting from the field and 14.3% shooting from deep, making the second straight Game 3 that the star wing has struggled in.
“He had a horrible game, and the gap between Tatum’s ceiling and his floor right now is not ok. His ceiling is on par with the best players in the world, but his floor, and I do not mean to be hyperbolic here, is like an Andrew Wiggins floor. I’m not saying Andrew Wiggins playing an average game; I’m saying when Andrew Wiggins has a horrible game, and that’s where Tatum’s floor is right now,” Maneikis said.
Boston will want to address Tatum’s performance before Game 4 on Monday night if they want to tie the series up before heading down to South Beach.
The Celtics will start today with a worrying injury report that includes both Marcus Smart and Robert Williams being listed as questionable, but with the Celtics' current lack of depth outside their top 8 or 9 man rotation, the team will be hoping at least one of their starting five is cleared to play - because another loss would immediately crank up the pressure before heading back to Miami for Game 5.