Charles Barkley and other NBA legends tear Celtics apart after Game 3 loss
“I feel like the Celtics left their coach. Let’s call it what we really see.”
NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal posed a simple question before TNT’s ‘Inside the NBA’ team began breaking down the ‘highlights’ of Boston’s searing loss to the Heat in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“Since the Celtics quit, can we quit?” O’Neal asked.
O’Neal trailing the Celtics was a sign of things to come, as several former NBA players voiced their opinions on Boston’s terrible performance in a critical playoff game on Sunday night.
Whether it’s C’s star players Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown failing to deliver (26 points overall) or their defensive strength eroding against a Heat team that shot 54.5% from the field , the TNT team spent a day in the field separating Joe Mazzulla’s team.
“It was humiliating,” noted Hall of Famer Charles Barkley.
“We welcome you to ‘Inside the NBA,’ presented by Kia,” said host Ernie Johnson. “Although it looks a lot more like an episode of ‘Forensic Files’ after watching that.”
“Wait, we gotta show the highlights of this thing,” Barkley joked.
Barkley, who predicted the Celtics would win Game 3 before the tip, blasted Boston at halftime for a lack of effort. The Celtics trailed Miami, 61-46, at the break.
“I’m embarrassed for the Celtics,” Barkley said during TNT’s halftime report. “This display of basketball – no mental toughness. Complain on every call. They’ve driven the umpires crazy because they complain on every call.
“The lack of mental toughness is embarrassing. I was blessed and blessed to play against the Lakers and Celtics, the two best organizations in NBA history. It was awkward for the Celtics. Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Larry Bird, ML Carr, Kevin McHale, best player I’ve played against. It was embarrassing as a Celtics fan.
An NBA legend who fought against Bird, McHale and some of the great Celtics of yesteryear agreed with Barkley.
In my 44 years of association with the NBA, I never expected to see a Boston Celtics team, a franchise with 17 championships, resign,” Magic Johnson tweeted. “I know Celtics fans everywhere must be disgusted and devastated. The Miami Heat knocked them out 128-102 in Game 3.”
Isaiah Thomas, who has wanted the Celtics to come back in the fourth quarter several times during his time in Boston, agreed the team called him long before the final seconds were thankfully down at Kaseya Center.
“Damn, they were really tapping! Smh,” Thomas tweeted.
On NBC Sports Boston’s post-game show, former Celtic Eddie House wondered if the players on the field had started to disconnect from Mazzulla.
“The biggest takeaway is that the Miami Heat are just better prepared,” House said. “Damn, let me say this: I feel like the Celtics left their coach. Let’s call it what we really see. I feel like these guys don’t believe in what they’re doing. their coach.
Even though Mazzulla took most of the blame during his postgame presser, Barkley and O’Neal stressed that Boston’s roster players must also be held accountable.
“First of all, Coach, stop saying ‘me’. Let’s say ‘we – we weren’t ready to play’. I know he’s trying to do the right thing, take a ball for the team,” Barkley said of Mazzulla. “But he can’t say ‘me’. … It was embarrassing for the Boston Celtics, one of the greatest franchises in sports history. But he took all the bullets. … He can’t take all the blame for what these Celtics are doing.
“I respect Joe Mazzulla for taking all the blame. But I don’t want to hear that,” O’Neal added. “As a superstar, I can’t go 6 for 17. Chuck, like my other superstar, he can’t make 6 for 18. Let’s get real – the Celtics are way too cool for me. They are too cool. …Jimmy [Butler] and them, they go out, they play good clean basketball. … The Celtics walked out without any sense of urgency. The Heat knew what they had to do. And they are determined to do it. They’ve been doing this all year.
Despite the 0-3 hole the Celtics find themselves in, Heat guard Gabe Vincent added on TNT that Boston has too much talent to turn around in Game 4.
“They have stars. They’re not going to give up,” Vincent said.
“Obviously you didn’t watch the game tonight,” Barkley replied.
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