"“I think – it’s a series of discipline and a mindset,” Mazzulla said following the loss. “So, yeah, it’s mental from the standpoint of who can make the right plays at the right times, who can make the simple plays, who can win those details and those margins. So, yeah, it’s definitely mental.”"
The most frustrating part of the first two games of this series is that when the Celtics lock in and put their foot on the metal, they show who is the best team on the court. The problem is they keep making mental mistakes to give the Heat ways to get back in the game. That is where that mental mindset is giving Butler and his cast of role players the advantage…at least through Game 2.
Boston Celtics are simply in their own way
So, whether the quick reaction is to put it all on Mazzulla or even Jayson Tatum who has shown his playmaking ability through most of the game, it is the makeup of the team that continues to make things harder on themselves and put themselves in situations where their backs are against the wall.
Yes, Butler is a bulldog, but there is no way one player should be dominating this basketball team. It’s mental and this is where the growth of both Tatum and Jaylen Brown must take another step. The careless mistakes to allow a team like Miami back in the game, the sloppiness that continues to shine in close games down the stretch are the roadblocks in the way of Banner 18.
"“…It comes down to the details and the margins,” Mazzulla continued. “So, we have to when we get a stop, when we force them into a difficult shot, we have to get the rebound. When we have open shots, we have to take them. When we draw two, we have to pass it. So, this is a series of discipline and mindset, and there were times throughout the game where we weren’t the more disciplined team.”"
Other than making the necessary adjustments to get a win in Game 3, the Boston Celtics have to find that mindset to translate their talent on the court into a team that can put it together for 48 minutes. Althoughinserting Grant Williams into the rotation was one that worked in Game 2, the Celtics have to continue to find ways to exploit the Heat and counter to their adjustments.
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When Kevin Love or Cody Zeller are in the game, the Celtics have found ways to take advantage, which is something they must continue to do. They also need to get Brown rolling and players like Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon need to turn back into the players who stepped into the roles as the third quarter at times.
But the key is the mindset. The Boston Celtics have to become the more desperate team, take on the role of the underdog and learn how to put away teams down the stretch. As a Celtics fanatic or critic, you know this is not something new. With this current core led by Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart, it has become consistent. Now is the time to get over that mental hump.
If being down 0-2 can’t fuel the fire, perhaps that core will need to be tinkered, especially if they lay down and let the Butler and the Heat continue to blow them off the court as far as mental toughness. If that happens, it will be a very interesting offseason.