The Boston Celtics had a chance to make history. They had a chance to become the first team to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the NBA Playoffs. But they fell short, losing to the Miami Heat in Game 7, 103-84. There were several reasons for the Celtics' loss. But four people, in particular, stand out as being most to blame.

In a tumultuous turn of events, the Celtics initially showed great promise as they took an early five-point lead. However, their momentum was swiftly thwarted by an overwhelming 14-4 run by their opponents, marking the end of the first quarter. To exacerbate matters, they struggled to regain their footing in the second quarter. They even allowed the Heat to secure 16 of the first 22 points. As the third quarter drew to a close, Miami boasted a commanding 76-66 lead. The Celtics' hopes of mounting a comeback were further dashed when star player Jayson Tatum missed a crucial layup to open the fourth quarter, followed by consecutive turnovers from Jaylen Brown. To add salt to the wound, Miami's Caleb Martin capitalized on the opportunity. He sank a huge three-pointer, while Jimmy Butler delivered a pair of baskets. Those extended Miami's lead to 83-66.

From that point onwards, the Celtics were unable to narrow the gap. This left the TD Garden crowd stunned and frustrated. Not surprisingly, some boos could be heard as the fans trickled out of the arena, their spirits deflated.

Here we will look at the four Celtics most to blame for their embarrassing Game 7 home loss.

Jayson Tatum

Known for his incredible scoring ability, Tatum had an unexpected off night in Game 7. Despite being the Celtics' standout performer throughout the playoffs, Tatum struggled to find his rhythm against a relentless Miami defense. His shooting woes were evident as he could only muster 14 points, a far cry from his usual scoring output. Tatum's shooting accuracy was abysmal, making only 5 of his 13 attempts from the field, leaving the Celtics desperate for points. To compound his struggles, Tatum recorded a plus-minus of -12 for the night. As the Celtics' leading scorer and go-to player, Tatum's inability to get going played a significant role in the team's downfall and his off night will be remembered as a missed opportunity for the Celtics.

Jaylen Brown

Brown is an important contributor to the Celtics. However, he also faltered in the critical Game 7. Throughout the series, Brown's offense had been oscillating from good to terrible. Still, he was a key offensive weapon for his team. However, in this decisive game, his shooting efficiency plummeted. He struggled to convert on just 8 of his 23 attempts from the field. Brown's inability to find his groove severely impacted the Celtics' offensive flow and left them searching for alternative sources of scoring. Additionally, Brown's ball security was a major concern as he committed eight turnovers. These gave the opposing team too many extra possessions and squandered opportunities for the Celtics to mount a comeback. Given his inconsistent performance throughout the series, Brown's struggles left a significant void that the Celtics desperately needed to fill. Ultimately, this contributed to their defeat.

Marcus Smart

Smart, known for his tenacious defense and ability to make hustle plays, played a crucial role in the Celtics' stirring victory in Game 6. His relentless energy and defensive intensity disrupted the Heat's offensive flow and contributed to the Celtics' defensive success. However, in Game 7, Smart encountered difficulties finding his rhythm on the offensive end. Recall that he had averaged 18.3 points over their last three wins. Despite that kind of momentum, he struggled to convert his shot attempts in Game 7. He shot just 4-of-10 from the field, including 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. Additionally, Smart could not contain either Caleb Martin or Jimmy Butler. Both combined for 56 points. The team needed Smart to be more efficient and play stingier defense. That just did not happen in Game 7.

Joe Mazzulla

In the aftermath of the Celtics' defeat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, Mazzulla's words pierced the air, capturing the essence of disappointment in just 10 profound syllables.

“I just didn't have them ready to play.”

Mazzulla's coaching style had been a study in contrasts throughout the season. Embracing speed and precision, Mazzulla favored smaller lineups and unleashed a barrage of three-pointers. This catapulted the Celtics to the second spot in the league in that category. Defensive prowess was also recognized, with White earning a place on the NBA All-Defensive Team. Brogdon also received the Sixth Man of the Year accolade.

The regular season painted a rosy picture for Boston, boasting the best net rating while securing second place in offensive and defensive rating. However, the playoffs revealed their vulnerability. Defensive struggles plagued them, as they plummeted to 10th in efficiency among playoff teams. Their home record suffered too, with 11 losses in two years.

Late-game execution haunted them, though Game 7 offered no opportunity for redemption, as the Heat swiftly extinguished any hope. Boston's aspirations shattered, leaving them to confront the bitter taste of an untimely demise.

In this crucial series against their opponents, the Celtics heavily relied on the contributions of four key individuals. However, despite their consistent performance throughout the series, they all encountered significant struggles when it mattered most in Game 7. These unexpected difficulties on the part of these players ultimately played a pivotal role in the Celtics' unfortunate loss.

It is important to emphasize that the Celtics' defeat was a collective team effort. It would be unfair to assign blame solely to one player. Nevertheless, the aforementioned players had ample opportunities to make a significant impact during Game 7 but were unable to seize them.

Moving forward, the Celtics must critically analyze this defeat and extract valuable lessons from it. With their immensely talented roster, they possess the potential to become strong championship contenders for many years to come. However, to fully unlock their potential, they must decipher the key to triumphing in high-stakes games.