MIAMI — Boston Celticsare a group of long-distance runners.
Former Celtics President Danny Ainge used a consultant to identify draft picks as well as free agents for years.brain types“based on the belief that certain personality types made better players. Ainge and this system are gone. However, the Celtics, whether they use meticulous scouting or good fortune, have a common personality type.
They proved it again Thursday night, when they bounced back to a 127-102 Game 2 victoryThe Miami HeatSquare the Eastern Conference Finals at 1-1
This was the fourth time this postseason — third on the road — that the Celtics responded to a loss with a win, defeating teams by an average of 17.3 points in those games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
It's the fifth-highest margin after a loss in one postseason. This was among teams who have played at least three such games. All four teams that finished ahead of the Celtics won the title. (The Miami team is sixth in the list this season.
Since late January, when this team found its strideBoston now stands at 10-1 after a loss. The loss comes with an asterisk because it occurred on a night that the Celtics had their starters.
This particular group appears predisposed to this kind of resilience. It is part of its nature. The Celtics collectively are like a great runner, whose mental acuity or guile often equals, or exceeds, their physical gifts.
Ime Udoka is their coach and has an easy-going demeanor. However, he has tried to instill confidence in the team throughout the season. Although he doesn't hesitate to challenge his players or call them out, he does so without resorting to emotion. Udoka remained unassuming even though the Celtics appeared to be in serious danger in Milwaukee when they lost 3-2 to the Bucks, the defending champions. The Bucks had won eight consecutive closeout games.
He believed that the Celtics trailing him were in a good position. He relayed this to his team who responded with a huge Game 6 win to even the series. Before Game 2, he did the same thing again, but this time he focused on the positives he had identified from Game 1. This included that Boston won three quarters.
They won all four quarters on Thursday thanks to historic shooting. 1987 was the last playoff game in which the Celtics shot better than 50% from the field, 50% at 3-point range, and 90% from behind the line. Six 3-pointers were made that night by the Larry Bird/Kevin McHale-led team. In Game 2, the 2022 version took 40. While great shooting makes everyone appear good, Boston didn't have all the good fortune.
Udoka stated that “we didn't play as badly as the last game showed.” “We saw many positives and areas that we could attack.”
Jayson Tatum Jaylen BrownThe team's two top stars are both extremely confident. While most NBA players are confident, Boston's two stars have the advantage of being more even-keeled.
Tatum was, for instance, in the exact same position after his 4 of 19 shooting game against the Bucks, as he was when he scored 46 points to win Game 6. Tatum began Game 2 with a 20-point performance after a disappointing second half against the Heat. Tatum had six turnovers during the third quarter.
Tatum, who finished with 27 points, said that “I think the sign a team is how they respond after losses,” Tatum added. It reflects the group's character.
Brown played one of his worst playoff games in the series opener against Bucks, but he followed it up with 25 points in Game 2. From that point on, Brown has been a steady producer. He started a routine where he gets on the court to do extra work three hours before each tip.
Marcus SmartHe is a fierce competitor. He's more emotional than his calm teammates and coach. He has been able to play through injuries throughout the playoffs. In Game 2, he scored 24 points with 12 assists and one turnover after missing Game 1. The reigning Defensive player of the year also harassed Jimmy Butler, holding him to just five shot attempts on 37 plays, per ESPN Stats & Information.
Smart started the game with just one of his 10 shots. This is a great example of Smart's operation. Then he made seven of his 10 last shots.
Smart said, “I am the youngest of four boys.” Smart said, “All my life, I have to fight…you ain't got any choice but to be tough.”
This rings true across the entire roster. Veteran big man Al HorfordBoston's most steady presence. Reserves Grant Williams Payton PritchardBoth undersized and over-looked in different ways during their early careers, young professionals bring energy and perseverance. Williams was unable to score in Game 1 and had only 19 points from the bench in Game 2. Pritchard was attacked by the Heat's offense in Game 1 and scored 10 points. He then competed hard for defense, leading him to a best-in-class plus-39 performance.
The Celtics may not be the best team. They have flaws and have shown that they are capable of driving to the brink. The Heat must win the series with four of seven wins, and that will require them to take the Heat's home-court advantage.
This group almost seems to embrace loss because of the way it is wired. When you get to know them, this logic begins to shine.
Tatum stated that Tatum believed they had a greater presence than themselves. “They kicked our butt last [game]”