On Monday, May 29, the Miami Heat took care of business by defeating the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
As a result, the Heat will now head into the NBA Finals, where they will square off against the Denver Nuggets.
While the Miami Heat's game plan was solid, they also enjoyed an uncharacteristically bad performance from the Celtics. Playing in front of a hometown crowd at the TD Garden, the 2022 Eastern Conference Champions succumbed to the pressure.
#1. Jayson Tatum's ankle injury
In the opening possession of the game, Jayson Tatum landed awkwardly after pulling up for a jump shot. On the replay, it was clear that the All-NBA forward had rolled his ankle and looked to be in legitimate pain.
For the rest of the night, Tatum grimaced as he ran up and down the court and was clearly struggling to make an impact on proceedings. Considering that Jayson Tatum is Boston's best player (and that he cooked Jimmy Butler in their individual Game 6 matchup), his injury was the worst possible outcome for Boston.
Tatum hurting his ankle also stung because it set the tone for the rest of the game, where the Boston Celtics were playing off the back foot.
#2. Jaylen Brown struggles under the pressure
With Jayson Tatum taking a step back in the Celtics' offensive hierarchy, all eyes were on Jaylen Brown stepping up to the plate. However, the Georgia native was unable to lead his team to victory, as he struggled with reading the game and making decisions at a quick pace.
Brown had eight turnovers in Game 7. His performance once again raised questions about his ability to initiate offensive actions and his ability to be a lead ball-handler.
Instead, Jaylen Brown opted to put his head down and continually run himself into traffic before making a bad pass or resetting the offense with time dwindling down on the shot clock.
Now, with contract extension talks expected to happen in the offseason, there are legitimate questions about Jaylen Brown's future with the Boston Celtics franchise.
#3. Shooting variance
All season long, the Boston Celtics have been a high-volume three-point shooting team, despite their fanbase calling for more variety in the offense. The problem of being such a perimeter-heavy offense is that shooting variance is a real thing, and at times, you can go cold from deeper for games at a time.
Joe Mazzulla has led the Celtics away from their defensive identity in the search for an offense that can attack the three-point line at pace.
The Boston Celtics ended up shooting 21.4% from the perimeter in Game 7, which was a primary reason for them being unable to close out the series in front of their own fans at the TD Garden.