Another down-to-the-wire finish, another loss for the Boston Celtics.
This has been a recurring theme for the Boston Celtics following Sunday’s 99-96 loss to Oklahoma City, a loss that has all involved – coaches and players – frustrated with the team’s struggles.
Celtics guard Marcus Smart was among the players to acknowledge that the team’s frustrations is growing.
- Highlights: Oklahoma City Thunder 99, Boston Celtics 96
- Crowder fouling out 'a big blow' to Celtics' ability to defend down stretch
- Westbrook, Thunder battle back in fourth to beat Celtics, 99-96
“I think any team in that situation would be frustrated,” Smart told reporters following the loss. “Just because you’re playing right, you’re in the game and you control the game, and late you lose it.”
Boston came up on the short end of a 15-6 run to close out the game which included a number of point-blank shots for the Thunder in the game’s closing minutes.
“Three uncontested dunks late is a killer,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens told reporters after the loss.
He added, “It’s a frustrating loss. We played really hard on the defensive end of the floor for most of the night. We screwed up a few coverages throughout the course of the night but not very many. And so, hats off to them.”
Stevens understands his player’s disappointment and frustration with how they have closed out games lately.
But within that disappointment lies the big picture which is that despite the recent setbacks, there’s a lot of games left to be played.
“If you get too down or too discouraged 24 games in,” Stevens said. “You’re probably not built for this.”
Said Al Horford: “It’s frustrating, but we need to look at this, watch film, have a good practice and get focused. No one is going to feel bad for us. We have to pull out of this and stay together, and we will.”
Here’s a look at the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game.
The front-runner for the league’s MVP award lived up to the hype on Sunday. Although his triple-double streak of seven straight is no more, that doesn’t take away from a truly dominant performance in which he finished with a double-double of 37 points and 12 rebounds to go with six assists.
It was mission impossible for Bradley in trying to defend Westbrook. He still did a lot of good things for Boston, tallying 18 points on 8-for-18 shooting to go with four rebounds and three steals.
The blocked shot of Al Horford’s hook shot in the fourth quarter was one of the many big plays made by Adams down the stretch. Besides that, he had 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting to go with eight rebounds and two assists.
This was one of the best games we’ve seen from Smart this season, showing signs – for one night at least – that he can play the point guard position and be effective. He finished with a near double-double of 11 points and nine assists with just two turnovers.
Most of Kanter’s best work came in the first half when he scored 10 of his 14 points off the bench. He also had six rebounds, two assists and two blocked shots for the night.
Tough night for Crowder who had the hot hand for Boston but couldn’t avoid being in serious foul trouble. He finished with 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
Celtics fourth quarter execution
The Celtics did not do themselves any favors with yet another fourth quarter meltdown. Usually one of the best in the NBA when it comes to limiting turnovers, Boston turned the ball over five times in the fourth that accounted for six points for the Thunder. Just to put that in perspective, Boston had committed nine turnovers through the first three quarters.