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A spring of Boston’s discontent

They were supposed to make history.

In a way, they did.

The Boston Celtics, after falling down three games to none in the Eastern Conference Finals, rattled off three-straight victories to force a deciding Game 7. In the process, Boston became the first team in NBA history to not only force a deciding Game 7 after losing the first three games of the series, but the first team to have Game 7 in their building.

However, the thing about history is that it is written by the victors.

Unfortunately for the Celtics, as well as the Boston Bruins, the history that will be told about their respective 2022-2023 seasons will be crafted by authors from South Beach.

Weeks after the eighth-seeded Florida Panthers bounced the Bruins — the best team in NHL regular-season history — out of the opening round of the NHL playoffs by winning a Game 7 in Boston, the Miami Heat wrote a little history of their own. The 8-seeded Heat never faltered and went into a raucous TD Garden to pen the final chapter of Boston’s story.

A story that Boston fans will likely see titled “A Spring of Boston’s Discontent.” A story that saw both the Bruins and the Celtics lose at home, in Game 7, to an 8 seed:

So, history was indeed made. Now the Celtics will join the Bruins on the couch, watching the rest of their respective playoffs.

Just like the rest of us.

Both Game 7s began ominously for the Boston teams. In Game 7 between the Bruins and the Panthers, Florida scored first to take a 1-0 lead in the first period.

In Monday night’s Game 7 between the Celtics and Heat, Boston star Jayson Tatum rolled his left ankle on the first shot of the game and was grimacing the rest of the way.

Tatum finished with 14 points on 5-for-13 shooting in Boston’s 103-84 loss to the Heat Monday night.

“It was just frustrating that I was … a shell of myself,” Tatum said after the loss. “It was tough to move. Just frustrating, it happening on the first play.”

Miami weathered the crowd and an early Boston scoring spurt at the start, as the Celtics built the quick five-point lead midway through the first quarter. But then Boston’s shots stopped falling, and the Heat kept converting their chances, and by the time the first quarter ended, the visitors had a seven-point lead.

That lead was 11 by halftime, and throughout the third quarter Boston kept chipping away, coming as close as seven after Game 6 hero Derrick White converted one of two free throws with just over three minutes left in the third. Boston won the quarter 25-24 and trailed by ten heading into the fourth.

But in the final frame, Miami pulled away. As ominous as the start of the game was for Boston, with Tatum’s injury, the start of the fourth was perhaps the sequence that spelled doom. Tatum missed a layup on the first possession of the fourth, and Miami answered with a three from Caleb Martin, who was masterful the entire series. A pair of Jaylen Brown turnovers turned into four more points for the Heat, and within minutes thoughts of a historic Boston comeback were relegated to the trash bin of history.

“We got punked,” Celtics forward Grant Williams told ESPN after the loss. “We didn’t play our game from start to finish. Defensively, we just lost it all, and then offensively we were scrambled and trying to do everything ourselves and just didn’t go our way.

“You hate to have that be the end of your season, especially with the fight that we’ve shown. But shots didn’t fall either, so that didn’t help … it’s just tough.”

It has been a tough spring for Boston sports fans, with the Celtics now joining the Bruins as the vanquished foes of South Beach teams. A winter that ended with such promise, as both the Bruins and the Celtics seemed primed for deep playoff runs, ended at the hands of teams from Florida.

Similar to the Bruins, who face questions about whether the championship window has closed and whether players like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are headed into retirement, the Celtics face some questions of their own. Brown has just one year left on his contract and is now eligible for a supermax deal after being named second-team All-NBA this season. How do the Celtics handle his contract moving forward? And what of coach Joe Mazzulla, who was thrust into his role just as training camp opened when former coach Ime Udoka was dismissed for having an affair with a team staff member? Mazzulla stepped into a difficult situation and guided Boston to the two seed in the Eastern Conference, but has faced criticism dating back to the regular season for his strategic decisions, and when Boston lost the first three games of the Eastern Conference Finals, many wondered if he would be long for the job.

Now, both the Bruins and the Celtics are left to pick up the pieces, and try to write new chapters this offseason.

Boston fans are hoping that those in South Beach do not get to wield the pen anymore.

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