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The Day After… the Boston Celtics didn’t pull any punches.
On themselves, that is.
Less than 24 hours after being humiliated by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena, 116-86, the Celtics emerged from a film session that was less than enjoyable.
“I thought it was embarrassing,” Celtics guard Jaylen Brown said. “I thought we came out, the way I played, the way I performed, how not aggressive I was in the first half, I look at that as fuel to come out in Game 4 and be excited about it and be ready to play and ready to fight.”
Brown, plagued by two quick fouls, was never a factor, scoring only 10 points, 13 less than he averaged in Boston’s wins in Games 1 and 2.
Game 4 will be played Monday night in Cleveland (8:30, ESPN).
“They were the tougher team, and the more organized and focused team,” 20-year-old rookie Jayson Tatum, who led the Celtics with 18 points Saturday night, said.
The beating Saturday continued a trend for Boston in these playoffs, where it is a perfect 9-0 at home at TD Garden but just 1-5 on the road.
Al Horford, who torched the Cavaliers in Game 1 with 20 points and six assists on 9-of-10 shooting, was limited to seven points, seven boards and four assists in Game 3, taking only four shots.
“It’s very different,” he said. “I think that at home, you have your home crowd behind you. You have a comfort level about you. And on the road, literally it’s just you against everybody else. It takes a while for you to get used to and understand how well you have to play on the road. You have to be able to do all the little things in order to have a chance.
“Last night, we had a lot of breakdowns, so we didn’t even give ourselves a chance to win.”
Incredibly, Horford did not take a single shot for the first 13 minutes in the game. By that time, the Celtics were in a huge hole from which they could never emerge.
“Offensively, we didn’t execute our game plan. We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be,” he said. “I just think that we need to run our offense with more pace.
“I think, a lot of the times, we got caught up in being in a lot of isolation positions.”
Marcus Morris said Boston will be a different team coming Game 4 on Monday night.
“That [Celtics] team we saw [in Game 3], I’m 100 percent sure it won’t be the same team on Monday,” Morris said. “After watching film, we did a lot of things that caused us to be in the position that we’re in. I said before, control the controllables, and we didn’t do that.”
With Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue putting Tristan Thompson on Horford the last two games, Thompson’s play, along with his backup, Larry Nance Jr., may force Boston coach Brad Stevens to make a counter move.
Stevens could turn to Aron Baynes to start at center, perhaps forcing Lue to decide to put either Kevin Love or LeBron James on Horford. Or, Lue could opt to have Love try to guard the bigger, stronger Baynes.
Stevens could also opt to starter perhaps starting Semi Ojeleye or Greg Monroe in an effort to free up Horford.
“Right now, with the way they they’re playing, we’re going to need some other guys to be ready to go come Monday,” Stevens said after the blowout loss.
Horford knows the Celtics, the second seed in the East, had better bring their A game Monday night against the fourth-seeded Cavaliers.
“It just shows when you don’t bring it as a team, these things can happen. Give Cleveland credit, they were the better team (in Game 3).
“I can tell you right off the top of my head there was a lot of breakdown defensively — it’s something we have to address, and be better at on Monday if we want to have any chance of winning.”