In a less-than-shocking twist of events, the Boston Celtics stumbled their way to a Game 6 loss against the Miami Heat. Over the course of the series, a pattern has emerged, and it’s cost the Celtics game after game after game.
Game 1: 19 turnovers led to 19 MIA points— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) May 28, 2022
Game 2: 10 turnovers led to 9 MIA points
Game 3: 24 turnovers led to 33 MIA points
Game 4: 7 turnovers led to 9 MIA points
Game 5: 15 turnovers led to 17 MIA points
Game 6: 17 turnovers led to 20 MIA points
3 Ls: 19, 33, 20 points off TO
After committing nine turnovers in the first half of Game 6, Boston followed it up with eight in the second. For the fourth time this series, the Heat scored 15 or more points off of Boston turnovers. In Game 6, that number was 17 in a game the Celtics lost by only eight.
With a hoarse voice exasperated by his team’s struggles, Ime Udoka ranted about the issue during his post-game press conference. He noted Boston’s lack of growth in adapting to Miami’s physical play-style.
“We were too loose with it. Them coming out physical and us being caught off guard, which we shouldn’t be at this point. It’s about understanding who they are. Like I said, it’s the same type of turnovers, getting poked away or playing in a crowd and us being surprised that they’re going to reach, hold or grab. We gotta be better.”
Jayson Tatum led the team with seven turnovers, and as Udoka mentioned, most of them came in the same way they have been all series. Dating back to Boston’s third quqrter collapse in Game 1, where Tatum notched six turnovers in a single period, the forward has been lazy with his passes. Despite turning himself into a top-notch playmaker this year, he consistently throws the ball away.
Of his seven turnovers, three were a direct result of a lazy pass. Whether it was Tatum throwing it to Miami or leaving it lofted in the air for too long, his passes just didn’t connect.
Jaylen Brown also chipped in with four turnovers of his own, and he too has been guilty of the same type of giveaways. The 25-year-old constantly finds himself stuck in traffic, losing the ball in the process.
For the most part, this occurs when a Heat defender pokes the ball out from behind (as Udoka mentioned) or when Brown attempts to pass out of a bad situation. Two of his four turnovers in Game 6 were of this nature (and the other two were offensive fouls).
The Celtics just can’t get out of their own way, allowing the Heat to get easy looks in transition. Outside of Jimmy Butler’s masterpiece of a performance, Miami has struggled to find consistent offense in the half-court. But with Boston feeding them transition opportunities left and right, they don’t have to be effective in the half-court.
Derrick White made a statement that was emblematic of Boston’s struggles in this series, effectively admitting that Boston has made life hard on themselves.
“I mean, we’re frustrated, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be us. So, we’re gonna get on this plane, we’re gonna go down to Miami, and we’re gonna try to get this big win in Game 7. We’ve been here before, and we’ve got a lot of confidence in this group.”
Miami deserves all the credit in the world, as they have pounced on every opportunity Boston has given them. But that’s the point. The Celtics have gifted the Heat an average of 15.7 transition opportunities this series. That number would have ranked second in the NBA in turnovers per game during the regular season.
Butler has been phenomenal, Kyle Lowry is a warrior, and the Heat roster is as resilient as they come. Boston has fought through adversity all season, but in the Eastern Conference Finals, they have put that adversity on themselves.
The Celtics have been great in games after a loss this season, and with their backs against the wall on Sunday, they will hope that trend continues. Game 7 will tip off at 8:30 p.m. EST on Sunday night in Miami.