Prior to Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston Celtics guard Malcolm Brogdon declared that they weren’t going to be “out-toughed” by anyone. Yet, through two games the Miami Heat have been the tougher team, and even the Celtics admit it.
Following a brutal Game 2 defeat in which the C’s squandered a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, Celtics star Jaylen Brown stated they had been outworked, via Jay King of The Athletic.
“They outplayed us, they outtoughed us tonight,” he said. “They found a way to make plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
On Friday night the Heat had ten more rebounds and four more second-chance points than the Celtics. Plus, when it was crunch time in the final 12 minutes of the game, Miami’s stars took over. Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo combined for 17 points in the fourth quarter while Brown and Jayson Tatum had just eight points for the Green Team.
Malcolm Brogdon on May 16 before playing against the Heat:
"They're a well-rounded group that out-toughs most teams they play. But that's not gonna happen with us." 😳
Jaylen Brown on May 19:
"They outplayed us. They out-toughed us tonight." 😬pic.twitter.com/wgjNckBXvw
— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) May 20, 2023
Brown in particular had a rough performance, as he scored 16 points on 30.4% [percent shooting from the field and posted the worst plus-minus rating of any player on either squad (-24). The C’s will need him to respond in a big way in Game 3 on Sunday night if they want to keep their season alive.
The Heat have embraced a culture of hard work and gritty basketball, and so far that approach has got them far. Even though they’re without the talented Tyler Herro, they shocked the world by upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks and then blew past the New York Knicks.
To avoid being another victim of “Heat Culture,” the Celtics will have to bring the intensity on the road and put together a complete game. It sounds simple, yet they haven’t been able to do it in this series, and they are running out of time to figure things out.