Getting angry worked wonders for the Boston Celtics. It’s now Miami’s turn to find a happy place — though an unhappy place would seem more appropriate.
Their first win in these Eastern Conference finals just happened to come two nights after Marcus Smart sparked a loud and emotional series of shouting matches inside the Celtics’ locker room, all of that starting only a few seconds after the Miami Heat won to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
That lead is down to 2-1 now, the Celtics playing brilliantly in Game 3 and leading wire-to-wire to take a bunch of newfound momentum into Game 4 of the series on Wednesday night.
“I’ve always been saying that before you see the rainbow, it has to storm,” Smart said Monday, speaking about the post-Game 2 dustup for the first time publicly. “For us, that was a storm that we had to go through. We found our happy place.”
The Heat never led in Game 3, got themselves into a double-digit hole for the third consecutive game in this series and fourth straight overall, and because of a scheduling quirk now get to sit around and stew for three full off days before getting a chance to atone for what went wrong Saturday.
“Look, there’s two teams competing against each other,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “So as much as you want to say, ‘Hey, it’s just about us and we just have to do X, Y and Z,’ the Boston Celtics have something to say about that. Likewise, when they’re doing whatever they’re trying to do, we have something to say about that.”
The Celtics’ anger was no secret and was displayed at least somewhat publicly; reporters near their locker room heard the commotion after Game 2, with Smart being the one who lit the fuse.
The Celtics have yet to trail by more than eight, have led by as much as 20 and have been in front for 75% of the first 149 minutes played in this matchup.
But it’s Miami still leading the series, which is why the Celtics are seeking to show up for Game 4 with the same aggression that carried them in Game 3.
“I think each game is its own entity, so it is what it is. We’re all on the same schedule,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “We know we’re going to have to play the best game that we’ve played in Game 4 of this series to have a chance to win. That’s just the way series work. That’s the way the playoffs work. You have to get better every game.”