Celtics Hit Another Dead End, With No Clear Path Forward This Time
A team with N.B.A. championship aspirations fell short against Miami. Tough calls and new contracts await.
The curtains closed on Monday night for the Boston Celticss Jekyll and Hyde routine.
One hundred and fifty N.B.A. teams had tried and failed to overcome a 3-0 playoff series deficit. The Celtics made it 151 with their loss against the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals. The final game of a series of swings in momentum was not competitive: Miami led by double digits for most of the night and won comfortably, 103-84. It was Bostons third home loss of the series, and a bitter disappointment for a team that had reached the N.B.A. finals last season and had been expecting to return.
We failed, I failed, a despondent Jaylen Brown told reporters after the game. We let the whole city down.
For much of the regular season and this playoff run, the Celtics had alternated between looking like an unstoppable offensive juggernaut (Games 4 and 5 against Miami) and appearing listless and uninspired (Games 3 and 7). Very few teams considered to be leading contenders for a championship have vacillated as wildly from night to night, from dominant to dominated, as the Celticshad this season. But entering the playoffs, the Celtics still harbored championship hopes, confident that their franchise centerpieces, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and a versatile roster ready to supplement them would find a way to win.