Shaquille O’Neal has candid criticism of Celtics after rough Game 3 loss

Shaq has candid criticism of Celtics after rough Game 3 loss vs. Heat originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics are on the brink of elimination in the Eastern Conference Finals earlier than anyone could have anticipated.

It would not have been a super bold prediction to say before the series that the Heat would advance to the 2023 NBA Finals. Sure, the Heat are technically a No. 8 seed, but they have loads of experience, a championship-caliber head coach, and a proven playoff performer in Jimmy Butler, among other strengths.

But the fact that the Heat are up 3-0 in the series after a dominant 128-102 win in Game 3 in Miami on Sunday night is pretty stunning.

POSTGAME POD: Celtics pushed to the brink after blowout loss in Game 3 | Listen & Subscribe

Criticism was thrown at the Celtics from pretty much every direction beginning at halftime, and that discussion was even more intense after the game.

Hall of Fame center and TNT analyst Shaquille O’Neal had a candid take on the Celtics during the network’s “Inside the NBA” postgame show. Without specifically mentioning their names, he called out Celtics stars Jayson Tatum (6-for-18 shooting) and Jaylen Brown (6-for-17).

“I respect Joe Mazzulla for taking all the blame, but I don’t want to hear that,” O’Neal said. “As a superstar, I cannot go 6-for-17. If Chuck is my other superstar, he can’t go 6-for-18. Let’s just keep it real: Celtics are way too cool for me. They’re too cool.”

“Jimmy and them, they came out and played good, clean basketball. They don’t have a shot — take your time, swing it to the open man. The Celtics came out with no sense of urgency. The Heat knew what they had to do and they’re committed to doing it. They’ve been doing it all year.

“Again, there’s no pressure on the Heat because they’ve never been in that situation before. Game 1, we’re gonna play hard. We won Game 1. Game 2, we’re going to go for it, we won. Game 3 is not going to be different. They know what they have to do, they stick with their game plan and their focus. No coach has to tell me, when I’m a superstar, what to do. Pat Riley and Phil Jackson would come in and say ‘let’s go,’ and that’s all I need.”

No team in NBA history has ever recovered from an 0-3 deficit and won a series. The Celtics have fallen behind 0-3 six times in their long playoff history and were swept on four of those occasions.

But if they win Game 4 down in Miami, two of the final three games of the series would be at home in TD Garden. It’s a monumental task, but the Celtics do have the talent required to make it a little interesting.

And for any comeback to even get off the ground, the Celtics need their two-best players — Tatum and Brown — to lead the charge. They are shooting a combined 7-for-40 from 3-point range in this series, and that’s simply not good enough for a team that relies so much on outside shooting.

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