Former Boston Celtics' champion suggests Miami Heat orchestrated dirty foul

Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Winslow Townson/GettyImages

The Boston Celtics -- all of us, really -- are way too familiar with "Heat Culture."

The moniker has appeared in endless soundbites, tee shirts, and even Miami's latest city-edition jersey. It exudes a lineage of toughness passed down by the franchise's longstanding architect, Pat Riley, and his protege, Erik Spoelstra.

Everyone who plays for the franchise must buy into the team-first mentality. Hard-nosed defense and physicality are staples of every Heat team—it's why Udanis Haslem had a roster spot for way too long. I'm confident the coaching staff could pluck five guys playing soccer on South Beach and get them running matchup zone in no time.

They make teams play how they least want to, and Boston has crumpled at the challenge. The talent disparity between the squads has always been apparent, but the Heats' mental edge has been the most glaring advantage. Without Jimmy Butler and with the injection of Kristaps Porzingis and Jrue Holiday, it feels like this prior edge is almost rendered useless.

Miami isn't going to roll over. Even though they were down 30 points in the fourth quarter of Game 1, they were still throwing haymakers, trying to claw themselves back to within striking distance. A fighting spirit is admirable, but sometimes it can go too far. 

With under a minute to go, Jayson Tatum went up to corral a rebound and got bodychecked by Caleb Martin. Tatum crashed to the floor in a heap and avoided serious injury, but the play drew heavy scrutiny.

"Heat Culture" might've gone too far, and as former Celtic Brian Scalabrine expressed after the game, it seemed intentionally dirty. 

"I'm not trying to start anything here, but Erik Spoelstra called a timeout with 1:30 down 16," Scalabrine said. "30 seconds later, the Martin undercutting Tatum on the rebound play happens. Why is he calling a timeout in that spot, and why is that play happening right after? That looked shady to me. I think Martin should get suspended for that."

Boston Celtics need to play their game regardless of what Heat do

It's hard to fathom that Spoelstra ordered Martin to rough up the Celtics superstar. He's not that kind of coach. His style revolves around relationships, and no matter how much animosity is in the air, most players in 2024 would not be okay with intentionally injuring one of their opponents.

Was the play utterly careless? Yes. Caleb Martin wasn't remotely close to getting to the ball. But that's playoff hoops. Incidents like this happen because guys are so amped up and are just trying to swing momentum.

At the same time, this is what the Heat want. Even though Jayson Tatum swiftly got up and walked to the free-throw line after the altercation, this is making headlines. Anything that can cloud Boston's judgment is a win for Miami.

The Celtics have to stay focused. This is their year. Everything is breaking in their favor. They can't prolong this series and let any frustrations creep in. It has to be different this time. Nothing would send a louder statement than a definitive sweep.

That's Celtic culture.