Celtics' Ime Udoka Opens Up On Pivotal Third Quarter

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Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics
Head Coach Ime Udoka of the Boston Celtics reacts against the Miami Heat during the second quarter in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida.

The Boston Celtics were seemingly poised to steal Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals away from the Miami Heat after a strong first-half performance, but they ultimately came out empty-handed when the final buzzer sounded.

Head coach Ime Udoka elaborated on what went wrong during the pivotal third quarter in his postgame appearance with the media.

“We got [outplayed physically]. They look like they came out in the second half and wanted to up their physicality and aggression on both ends and they did that. I don’t think we responded well on either end of the floor,” he said to open up his statement.

“We just lost our composure. We won three quarters other than that, but obviously, that one’s going to stand out. We semi-bounced back in the fourth and started to play well again and match their physicality. But [being outscored] 39 to 14 [in the third quarter] was tough to overcome.”

Seeing the Celtics repeatedly punch through the vaunted Heat defense was certainly amazing to watch as they went into halftime with an eight-point lead thanks to the efforts of Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams III and Payton Pritchard who combined for 43 of the Celtics’ 62 points.

However, Miami turned up the heat defensively to start the third quarter and snuffed out their momentum thanks to Jimmy Butler’s 17-point performance which allowed them to take a massive lead into the final frame.

The Celtics would try to bounce back and retake the reins, but the entire Heat team played their roles to perfection.

Butler would end the game with a 41-point outburst with Tyler Herro and Gabe Vincent adding in 18 and 17 points respectively to win Game 1 118-107 plus the 1-0 series lead.

Tatum and Jaylen Brown paced the Celtics with 29 and 24 points each plus 18 points coming from both Williams and Pritchard.

Despite the loss, Udoka remains positive that his squad will be able to right their wrongs ahead of Game 2 on Thursday, May 19.

“We won three quarters, the [points off] transitions battle, second chance [opportunities] battle, won points in the paint, and really had that one quarter that really hurt us. It was strictly from a physicality standpoint,” he noted.

“They just came out and imposed their will. At least we bounced back in the fourth and got it to a nine, eight-point game, started to match their physicality. But it’s disappointing that we came out as flat as we did [in the second half].”

Udoka and his staff have their work cut out for them as they look to take homefield advantage away from a feisty Miami team.

Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics celebrates a basket against the Miami Heat during the fourth quarter in Game One of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Finals at FTX Arena on May 17, 2022 in Miami, Florida.
Photo: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

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