These clutch time stats for Celtics are concerning as Game 3 vs. Heat nears

These clutch time stats for Celtics are concerning entering Game 3 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The road to the NBA championship is full of close, hard fought games that are decided in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.

We often call these moments "winning time" or "crunch time" or "clutch situations." These periods help separate the true championship-caliber teams from the good-but-not-ready-to-win teams.

If the Boston Celtics are going to make a historic comeback in their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Miami Heat and then go on to win the 2023 NBA Finals, they must show significant improvement in these moments late in close games.

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Their struggles in this area have cost them dearly over the first two matchups of the conference finals, including Friday night's 111-105 loss in Game 2 at TD Garden.

The Celtics had a chance to tie the series if they executed well in the fourth quarter. They even had a 96-87 lead with 6:37 remaining. Boston also led 100-96 with 3:52 left on the clock. But from that point, the Heat outscored the Celtics 15-5 to steal both games in Boston.

How bad has the Celtics' crunch-time play been in this series so far? Our Celtics Insider Chris Forsberg shared the stats in the tweet below:

The Celtics could struggle late in games and still beat inferior teams during the regular season. It's tough to get away with that in the playoffs, especially against a Heat squad that is so well-coached, so well-prepared and is almost never intimidated by the moment. Miami also benefits from its best player, Jimmy Butler, absolutely relishing these clutch situations and often rising to the challenge.

There are many areas where the Celtics need to improve before Sunday night's pivotal Game 3 in Miami. Executing well under pressure in crunch time is probably at the top of that list.