Celtics

Celtics let Sixers steal game that was all but theirs

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Celtics let Sixers steal game that was all but theirs

PHILADELPHIA It all seemed so easy - too easy, actually.

Boston raced out to a double digit lead, saw its control of the game max out at 18 points in the third quarter and then nothing.

As dominate as the C's were in the first half, they were equal parts dormant and dumbfounded in the second which led to a hard-to-stomach 92-83 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

At least the C's continue their season-long trend of making things much harder than they need to be.

Had they won on Friday night, the Celtics would have had a vice-like grip on the series, and an extra day off to prepare for what should have been a close-out game, at home, on Monday.

Instead, the series is now knotted at 2-2, and once again the Celtics did just enough things wrong to give the Sixers another boost of confidence.

For Philadelphia, they now have hope - legit hope - that they can do more than just make this series interesting they can win it.

"Once they picked up their intensity, I don't think we played with a sense of urgency," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "When you have a team on its back, you're up 15, you can take their confidence and we didn't do that. When you give a team life, they're going to run and it carried into the third and fourth quarter."

At this point in the season, regardless of how the game was being officiated - Boston was whistled for 28 personal fouls compared to 18 for Philadelphia - there's no excuse for not having a heightened sense of urgency.

And when you consider all that the C's had to gain with a win and how they played in the first half, it becomes yet another one of those inexplicable head-scratching games that the Celtics have provided at various points this season.

"Now we've got a chance for Game 5 with an even series, now 2-2, and we'll see where we can go from here," said Sixers coach Doug Collins.

For Boston, there's only one place to go from here - back home and get a victory.

The C's spoke in measured, level-headed tones following Friday night's loss, but just below the surface is an angry team that's well aware that they let a perfectly good opportunity to take a commanding lead in the series get away from them.

But their anger wasn't directed at the Sixers, or their fans, or officials Bill Kennedy, Scott Foster and Bill Spooner.

They were upset with themselves.

Because this loss, like most of their losses, had more to do with them not doing what they do consistently, than it had to do with the other team playing a great game.

"It's frustrating," Kevin Garnett acknowledged. "We had a team down and we didn't finish them off. That's pretty disappointing. So we gotta go back home .. and get ready for the next game."

Part of that preparation involves moving past Game 4, a game that the Celtics know was one in which they let the Sixers off the hook.

"We're a strong-minded team," said C's guard Rajon Rondo. "We're a veteran team, and we know we kind of let this one slip away. They felt like they let a couple slip away early. Regardless of how each team feels, you still have to go out there and play the game. So, we'll be ready come Game 5."

Too much rest for the weary?

Too much rest for the weary?

BOSTON -- You won’t find any of the Celtics griping about having more days off this month than they've had all season.
 
But is there such a thing as too much rest?
 
It certainly looked that way Tuesday during Boston’s 116-113 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which was Boston’s first game after having played once in the previous 10 days.
 
When asked about the long layoff being a factor, Al Horford said he wasn’t sure what, if any, impact that had on the game’s outcome.

“I thought we were just sloppy on the offensive end and couldn’t capitalize on a lot of opportunities and transitions and I think that hurt us,” Horford said.
 
Just as surprising was how the game, on so many levels, looked identical to previous games in which the Celtics trailed by double digits only to rally in the second half for the win.
 
“We can’t come back every game,” said Kyrie Irving. “It’s as simple as that. Sometimes another team is going to hold the lead and they’re going to play well.”
 
Here are five other takeaways from the loss,  which snapped Boston’s seven game winning streak.  

CELTICS DEFENSE

A strength all season, there were just too many breakdowns for Boston to emerge victorious. At no point did it feel like the NBA’s top-rated defense put its imprint on the game. And on nightswhen that happens -- which have been few and far between this season -- success for the Celtics is extremely hard to come by.

JAYSON TATUM

This was one of the more bizarre games we’ve seen from Tatum this season. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, but he never had one of those Tatum-like stretches of domination. While some may wonder if the 19-year-old is finally hitting that rookie wall, you have to remember this isn’t his first subpar game of the season. To his credit, he has bounced back quite well on the heels of rough outings. Don’t expect that to change now.

DANIEL THEIS

One of the reasons for Tatum playing less than 30 minutes (it was the second straight game he played less than 30 after logging 30-plus in his previous nine), was the play of Theis. He provided some much-needed energy for a Celtics team that looked and played somewhat lethargic for long stretches most of the night. He had seven points, which included a huge 3-pointer in the second half with the shot clock winding down, in addition to playing solid defense that factored into DeMarcus Cousins shooting just 7-for-20 from the field.

ANTHONY DAVIS

Celtics Nation’s bromance with The Brow will only intensify after he dropped 45 points on the Celtics last night, to go with 16 rebounds. What really made his performance stand out beyond it being the most points scored by a Celtics opponent this season, was the ease in which he got them. It really felt like Boston put up little to no resistance  most of the game. He shot jumpers with great confidence. He finished around the rim. Davis did anything and everything he wanted, all game. It was the kind of performance that Celtics fans would love to see at the TD Garden more often . . . in a Celtics uni, of course.

3-POINTERS

We know the 3-point shot is a weapon of choice for Boston. But launching a season-high 50 last night was not part of the plan. More than anything else, it was a function of the Pelicans playing arguably their best defensive game of the season. They kept Boston’s guards in front of them most of the night. And by not allowing much dribble penetration, it made life easier of sorts for their interior defenders. When there was penetration on Boston’s part, far too often Davis or Cousins would alter the shot attempt or help create a turnover. That often led to Boston having little choice but to take a 3-pointer, many of which were contested. It’s an important part of the Celtics offense, obviously. But when the number of 2-pointers (51) is basically the same as the number of 3s taken, the result will usually be a Celtics loss.
 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

 

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to break down the Celtics loss to the Pelicans in overtime, which snapped Boston's 7-game winning streak, and talks about the dysfunction with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

4:24 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Phil Perry, and Tom Giles discuss Gregg Doyel's article where he expressed concern over the expected hiring of Josh McDaniels by the Colts because of his tenure in Denver.

10:13 - Celtics legend Jo Jo White passed away at the age of 71. Michael Holley and Tom Curran talk about the impact he had on the franchise.

13:49 - Phil Perry gives us his report card for each position from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.