Celtics

Reporter's Notebook: Celtics' reactions to locker room blowup are telling

Celtics

*Editor's Note: The Boston Celtics are down 0-2 in the Eastern Conference finals after blowing another double-digit lead to the Miami Heat on Thursday night in Game 2. NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin shares her observations from Boston's ugly 106-101.

Different Viewpoints   

The biggest story coming out of the Celtics' Game 2 loss to the Heat are reports of yelling and objects being thrown inside the Celtics locker room post-game.

Multiple reporters, including Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe and ESPN’s Malika Andrews, who are inside the NBA bubble, reported hearing at least Marcus Smart yelling and continuing to yell as he left the locker room to go to the bathroom.

What I find interesting is the different ways the Celtics players handled questions about the scene afterwards. I asked both Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker about it (at the same time, actually, thanks to Zoom).

Jaylen told me: “It really just, a lot of emotions just flying around. Obviously we feel like we could have won, we should have won, but we didn’t.”

“I think everything is understood … In families there’s ups and downs, there’s fights and emotions, but that’s exactly what we are: A family. We’re going to hold each other accountable, and we’ve got to do what it takes to come out and execute next game.”

Meanwhile, Walker denied any sort of friction, telling me: ‘It was nothing. It was nothing.”

 

Pressed again, he said, “Nothing happened in the locker room. I don’t know what you’re talking about, to be honest. We’ll be fine.”

Forsberg: Celtics need to save their fight for the court

Jayson Tatum had a similar denial, then said, “What happened in the locker room gotta stay in the locker room. We’re not supposed to come out here and talk about what we talked about as a team after a win or a loss. That’s why we go into the locker room and talk to each other, win or lose. So, that’s that.”

That’s what they said. Take it for what you will.

To me, the different responses give you a little insight into who these guys are and how they deal with adversity. I, for one, loved Brown’s attitude and demeanor. It reminded me a lot of the way he spoke after the Celtics double-overtime loss to the Raptors in the last round.

Brown backed up his enthusiasm in Boston's Game 7 win, and I believe him when he says, “We feel confident about our abilities, we feel confident about our game plan. We just haven’t executed it to the extent that we know we can.

"Two games, we came up short towards the end of the game, and we’re looking forward to Game 3. We’ve got to find a way to win.”

Virtual fan experience

My colleagues Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine got the chance to be virtual fans for the first time Thursday night.

I can’t tell you how excited those two were to see themselves up on the big screen during the game. It was a little ridiculous considering they’re on TV every day. I think it just goes to show you how much we all are missing the real fan experience.

There is nothing like the feeling of being inside TD Garden during the post season. I can’t help but imagine how different these first two games of the series may have gone if they were actually played in Boston.

Also, I don’t know how to get you in as a virtual fan. I’m sorry. Those things are way above my pay grade. I couldn’t even get myself in.

Romeo Sighting

Romeo Langford got his first minutes of the Eastern Conference finals Thursday night. Head coach Brad Stevens calling on the rookie midway through the first quarter was pretty surprising.

Romeo was solid, though, kicking it out to Kemba Walker for a 3-pointer and holding his own on defense. Unfortunately, he only lasted 81 seconds on the floor before suffering a right adductor strain.

Langford has been playing with a wrist injury that Stevens said would require surgery at some point. It’s unfortunate. Injuries have plagued Langford’s first year in the league.

Hayward could be close

Speaking of injuries, the Celtics upgraded Gordon Hayward’s status to “doubtful” on Thursday morning as he works his way back from a Grade 3 ankle sprain.

 

Hayward’s status changed back to “out” before the game, but you’ve got to think the versatile forward is getting close to a return.

Celtics Talk Podcast: Celtics blow 17-point lead to Heat in Game 2; locker room gets heated following the loss | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

When I asked Stevens about Hayward pregame he told me, “He seems to be doing all right. We’ll have another update, I’m sure, tomorrow."

The hopes of a Hayward return sooner rather than later get even better when you consider the schedule. The NBA announced Game 4 of the ECF won’t tip off until Wednesday. That gives Hayward and the Celtics’ trainers six days of ‘round-the-clock treatment to get him ready to make an impact on the series

On the other side

The Heat have come back from double-digit deficits in both games, making the Celtics look like a team that can’t close.

Bam Adebayo’s explanation of why his team can never be counted out says it all: “We got grit, man. That’s all I can tell you. I’m happy to be on this team with these guys because everybody in here has a different story.

"We all came from nothing. That’s what’s beautiful about this team: guys that came from nothing together and we have a vision. And, we’re just trying to foresee that vision.”

Adebayo’s story is amazing: growing up with a single mother, living in a trailer. Duncan Robinson worked his way up from a Division III school. Jimmy Butler -- if you don’t know his story, I encourage you to look it up. The list goes on.

The point is, the Celtics are going to need a lot more grit than they’ve been playing with to win this series. That’s all I know.