"Just the nature of the playoffs": Joe Mazzulla downplays Celtics' shocking loss in Game 2

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks
Joe Mazzulla took the Boston Celtics' 111-101 loss to the Miami Heat in Game 2 in stride.

Boston Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla was certain the Miami Heat would roll out adjustments after Game 1. Behind the Cs’ spectacular shooting from deep, the home team demolished the crippled visitors 114-94 in the season opener. On cue, the Heat did tweak a few things and went on to even the series with an impressive 111-101 victory in Game 2.

3-point shooting has been the common theme in the series between the Celtics and Heat so far. In Game 1, Boston made 22-of-49 attempts from long range, a figure that dropped to 12-for-32 in the rematch. Miami flipped the script following a horrendous 12-for-37 clip in Game 1 to turn it into a 23-for-43 display in the next encounter.

When asked about the Boston Celtics’ mentality leading into Games 3 and 4 in South Beach, Joe Mazzulla responded:

"It's unfortunate that losing a game is adversity. It's just the nature of the playoffs. To think that you’re not going to have ups and downs throughout a run, you’re not being realistic.

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"We just have to go back and look at what we did well and what we didn’t and figure out the areas that we can improve on.”

Joe Mazzulla had reason to be positive despite the loss. Miami had to hit a franchise record 23 3-pointers to emerge with the win. In the regular season, the Heat averaged 12.5 3PMs, which is 19th in the NBA. Boston laps the field in that category with 16.5 3PMs, nearly two more makes than the second-placed Golden State Warriors with 14.8 3PMs. If the series becomes a battle from behind the arc, the Celtics will readily take that.

Erik Spoelstra explained after Game 2 that he didn’t want the Heat to be “annihilated” from that range. So, he ordered them to shoot, shoot and shoot more. Although that wasn’t their identity in the regular season, that might be one of their calling cards now to try and win the series.

Joe Mazzulla has been here before

Joe Mazzulla’s seeming matter-of-fact approach to the loss could come from experience. The Boston Celtics lost the first two games at home last year against the same opponents in the Eastern Conference Finals. After another defeat in Game 3, many thought they were done for the season.

But, Mazzulla held the team together, despite rumors that he lost the locker room, to rebound and tie the series. If not for Jayson Tatum’s injury in the first play of Game 7, the Celtics might have made it to back-to-back NBA Finals appearances.

Joe Mazzulla knows his team is still the overwhelming favorite although the series is tied after two games. He will have to make adjustments as well, considering the tweaks Miami introduced in the rematch. The Celtics could still get some payback in Games 3 and 4 in South Beach.

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