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BOSTON (AP) — Armed with a raucous crowd and seemingly all the momentum after battling their way out of a 3-0 hole in the Eastern Conference Finals, the celtics entered their game of Game 7 with the Heat considering a chance to make nba history.
It may have evaporated in the first game.
Jayson Tatum curled his left ankle on a layup attempt on Boston's first possession of the game, and he and the Celtics were never the same afterwards, stumbling to a 103- 84 Monday night.
“I fell on my ankle. And it's tough because it affected me a bit the rest of the night,” said Tatum, who finished 5th of 13 from the field with 14 points. “Swelling up. It was frustrating being a shell of myself, not being able to move.
Instead, for the second year in a row, the Celtics' season ended with a team receiving a trophy at home.
Jaylen Brown led Boston with 19 points but struggled to find a rhythm going just 8 for 23 from the field and 1 for 9 from the 3-point line.
“Just a terrible game when my team needed me the most,” Brown said. “JT injured his ankle on the first game of the game. You could see it swell. He couldn't move there. … I failed. It's hard. I give credit to Miami. But just terrible work.
The Celtics reduced what had been a 17-point deficit in the third quarter to 10 entering the fourth. But Miami started the final period with a 7-0 surge in the first 70 seconds with Boston never recovering.
Boston's 84 points on the night were a low for this postseason.
As well as Tatum's injury, Malcolm Brogdon also played through what he later confirmed was a partially torn tendon in his right forearm. And Game 6 savior Derrick White kept his team in contention with 18 points but left late after suffering a knee injury.
“That's how the game is. Sometimes the ball doesn't roll in your direction,” Brogdon said.
Boston ended its playoff run 5-6 at home.
“I thought the first quarter and a half or so we kept fighting defensively, even though our shots weren't falling,” coach Joe Mazzulla said. “Then we just couldn't score.”
It was a microcosm of a season that began with a coaching change the day before training camp after Ime Udoka received a one-year suspension for having an inappropriate relationship with a woman in the organization.
Mazzulla took over and led Boston to a 57-win regular season and its fifth Conference Finals appearance in seven seasons.
Now, Boston is entering an offseason that could change the immediate future of the franchise with a decision to be made regarding Brown, who is eligible to receive a five-year contract extension worth up to $295 million.
But Brown said it wasn't something he even began to ponder as he approached the end of a playoff series he thought would last much longer.
“I expected to win today and move on. That's what I focused on. That's what I focused on. We failed. I failed. That's all I can think of right now. We will cross this bridge when we get there.