Mazzulla concedes disconnect with Celtics after blowout Game 3 loss
Boston Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla admits there's a lack of synergy within his squad following its 128-102 loss to the Miami Heat to go down 0-3 in their series.
"Yeah, that's where I have to be better to figure out what this team needs to make sure that they're connected, they're physical, and they're together by the time we step on the floor," Mazzulla said, courtesy of CLNS.
When asked if he knew the source of the disconnect, Mazzulla said he's "not sure."
Needing a win on the road to avoid a historically insurmountable 0-3 hole, Boston appeared to have no answer for the Heat shortly after surrendering its final lead of the game, 16-14, with just over five minutes to play in the first quarter. From that point on in the frame, the Celtics failed to hit anything further than five feet as the Heat ended the quarter on a 16-6 run.
Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had uncharacteristically bad shooting performances in Game 3, going a combined 12-of-35 from the field and just 1-of-14 from behind the arc. The rest of the Celtics shot 27-of-63 (43%) and 10-of-28 (36%) from deep, but nobody on Mazzulla's side mustered more than 14 points (Tatum) as the Heat lead eventually ballooned to 33 points in the third.
Mazzulla then conceded defeat to start the fourth, emptying his bench in place of his starters with his team down 30 to begin the final frame.
"I don't even know where to start," Brown said postgame. "Obvious letdown. Feel like we let our fanbase (and) organization down. We let ourselves down. And it was collective; we can point fingers, but in reality, it's just embarrassing."
Mazzulla took the blame for the Celtics' poor showing, saying he failed to prepare his squad for the contest.
"I just didn't have them ready to play," he said. "Whatever it was, whether it was the starting lineup or whether it was an adjustment, just have to get them in a better place ready to play. That's on me."
No NBA team has ever come back from three games down in a seven-game series. The last team to be swept in the Eastern Conference finals was the 2015 Atlanta Hawks, who were no match for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers that postseason.
Only four other sweeps have ever happened in the East finals, though it has been a more frequent occurrence in the West. The Golden State Warriors did it twice in three years, first knocking out the San Antonio Spurs in four games in 2017 before doing the same to the Portland Trail Blazers two years later.