Brown States ECF Still ‘Far From Over’ as C’s Look to Dig Out of 2-0 Hole
Facing a 2-0 deficit in a best-of-seven playoff series can be a daunting position to be in, but that only depends on the perspective of the disadvantaged team. Some teams would be just about ready to throw in the towel at that point, overwhelmed by the necessity of winning four of their next five games. Others, however, are inclined to fight one game at a time until there’s no fight left.
After falling in a 2-0 hole to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals Thursday night, it’s clear that the Celtics fall into the latter category, as Jaylen Brown resolutely declared, “I think this series is far from over.”
Both of Boston’s losses have been frustrating, to say the least, as it has now allowed Miami to overcome consecutive double-digit second-half leads. On Tuesday night, the C’s blew a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter before eventually losing 117-114 in overtime. Then, on Thursday night, they surrendered a 17-point third-quarter lead en route to a 106-101 defeat.
The theme behind the collapses is easy to comprehend and the answer to the problem is just as simple.
“We just haven’t played a full 48 minutes of being locked in and executing the game plan,” said Brown. “I feel like maybe about 75 percent, we played really well. It’s always one quarter or one sequence of events where we have lapses, and against this team, we can’t have those. If we take that away, we’ll win.”
Thursday night’s lapses were a combination of not being physical enough on the boards and making too many errors down the stretch.
“They do a great job at flying in,” Kemba Walker said in regard to the Celtics allowing eight offensive rebounds during the second half of Game 2. “We just have to do a better job of getting on their bodies, preventing those guys from getting in the lane when the ball goes in the air. We’ve got to hit some bodies.”
And in regard to Boston’s 20 turnovers: “We gotta clean that up in order to beat these guys,” Walker stated.
Cleaning up those areas, as Brown said, will require 48 minutes of the Celtics being totally locked in. And being this far into the postseason, he believes they have no excuse not to be.
“We’re in the conference finals. That’s all we need to hear to be locked in,” said Brown. “That’s all it takes. Both games we had moments where we had lapses, and that team over there is together for 48 minutes. And we’ve got to be together for 48 minutes and we gotta be together for 48 minutes to match that. I think we have yet to do that. I think we’re capable. I think we need every piece, everybody to be all in, and to continue to bring that energy is what we’re going to need.”
Every piece needs to be collectively confident, as well, because the mental aspect of getting over a 2-0 hurdle is the hardest part. And that part shouldn’t be too much an issue for Boston, Brown believes.
“We feel confident about our abilities, we feel confident about our game plan,” said the veteran wing. “We just haven’t executed it to the extent that we know we can. Two games, we came up short towards the end of the game, and we’re looking forward to Game 3.”
Jayson Tatum also emphasized how important it is to only focus on this Game 3, rather than dwell on the past or get too overwhelmed by what lies ahead.
“Just be prepared to win that next one,” he said. “Not looking at it like we’ve got to win four out of five ... Just win the next one. Just take it one game at a time.”
It won’t be easy digging out of a 2-0 hole, but it’s also far from impossible. For what it’s worth, the last two Eastern Conference champions – Toronto in 2019 and Cleveland in 2018 – both overcame 2-0 deficits in the Eastern Conference Finals in order to reach the NBA Finals.
Thus, as Brown said, “This series is far from over.”