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The Celtics certainly looked like a team that has quit Sunday night. They were never competitive in an embarrassing 128-102 loss to the Heat that dropped them into a seemingly insurmountable 0-3 hole in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Charles Barkley ripped the Celtics to shreds at halftime. After the game, former Celtic and current NBC Sports Boston analyst Eddie House did the same. And when it comes to quitting, House thinks the Celtics have quit in particular on coach Joe Mazzulla.
“I feel like the Celtics have quit on their coach,” House said. “Let’s call it what we really see. I feel that those guys out there don’t believe in what their coach is doing. ... I don’t believe that they really believe in Joe Mazzulla. I just feel that. Because if you believe in whoever’s the leader of your team, whether that’s a coach – their message is passed down through the superstars.
“Lackluster efforts. Not getting out in transition. Not getting back in transition defense. To me, it looks like a team that’s already defeated. Aw man, I hate to say it like this, but at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised if we go in and lay another egg [in Game 4], because we’ve been laying them this whole series.”
The Celtics have indeed been laying eggs, and it’s certainly an indictment of Mazzulla that it’s happening. It’s obviously not all on him, because the players on the court need to be better and play with some pride regardless of what their coach is or isn’t doing.
But there is also a clear disconnect on this team right now, something Mazzulla admitted after the game.
Whether they’ve quit on their coach specifically or just plain old quit in general, Sunday night was an ugly sight, and it’s hard to imagine the Celtics getting things turned around in less than 48 hours before Game 4 Tuesday night.