Celtics

C's clutch performance against NBA elite both brutal and concerning

Celtics

Wednesday night's Game 4 loss to the Heat was an all-too-familiar story for the Celtics in their 2020 playoff run: a close game that went down to the wire where the C's couldn't make enough plays, only to lose by a couple of points.

The 112-109 loss was the C's fourth one-possession loss of the postseason -- and all six of their playoff losses this year have come by single digits. 

In fact, the Celtics' six defeats have come by a total of 22 points or an average of 3.7 points per game. Compare that to their nine playoff victories, which have come by an average of 11.8 points per game, including several blowouts: a 27-point win in Game 2 against the 76ers, an 18-point win in Game 1 against the Raptors and a 22-point win in Game 5 against the Raptors.

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Boston's struggles in close games aren't limited to the playoffs, either. Just check out how the Celtics have fared in games decided by seven points or fewer against the other seven teams that reached the second round of the NBA Playoffs:

vs. Milwaukee: 128-123 loss, 119-112 loss

vs. Toronto: 112-106 win, 102-99 win, 104-103 loss, 100-93 loss, 125-122 loss, 92-87 win

vs. Miami: 112-106 loss, 117-114 loss, 106-101 loss, 112-109 loss

vs. L.A. Lakers: 114-112 loss

vs. Denver: 96-92 loss

vs. L.A. Clippers: 107-104 loss

vs. Houston: 111-110 loss

That all adds up to a 3-13 record -- a shockingly brutal winning percentage of just .188, and much worse than Miami's record of 6-4 in similar games this season. It's the same story in overtime games, with the Celtics going just 2-5 in overtime this season while the Heat's nine overtime wins are the most in the NBA, and their 9-2 OT record includes a Game 1 victory over Boston.

 

While this doesn't mean the series is over -- after all, the Celtics have rallied from 3-1 deficits twice before en route to NBA titles and the Nuggets have rallied from a 3-1 deficit twice this season -- the C's will need to execute a lot better down the stretch in close games if they are going to make it past Miami and into the NBA Finals.