Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reportedly met with team leaders Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker on Thursday night to discuss the emotions that led to a shouting match in the locker room after their Game 2 loss to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals.
ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported the news Friday and noted the altercation after the 106-101 defeat involved "a lot of yelling" but didn't lead to a physical confrontation between the Celtics players.
Brown and Smart engaged in a "heated confrontation" after Thursday's loss and "needed to be separated by teammates," sources told Shams Charania of The Athletic, while ESPN's Malika Andrews witnessed Smart storm out of the locker room saying, "Y'all on some bulls--t."
Members of the Celtics were quick to downplay the situation in postgame interviews.
"It was nothing," Walker told reporters. "It was nothing."
Stevens added: "Guys were emotional after a hard game. Hard loss."
After an overtime loss in Game 1, Boston suffered from a series of self-inflicted mistakes Thursday. It turned the ball over 20 times in the contest and got completely outplayed in the third quarter, which allowed Miami to erase a 13-point halftime deficit with a lopsided 37-17 quarter.
Even though both games were close, hard-fought battles the result is the same. The Heat own a 2-0 lead and 93.6 percent of the teams in their position throughout NBA history have gone on to win the series, per Land of Basketball.
It creates a virtual must-win situation for the Celtics in Game 3, so there's no room for internal conflict as they attempt to spark a comeback. In that regard, it's no surprise Stevens called an emergency meeting of his leadership group to get everyone back on the same page.
Game 3 is scheduled for an 8:30 p.m. ET tipoff Saturday night on ESPN.