Celtics

Celtics' fourth-quarter stats paint troubling picture ahead of NBA playoffs

Celtics' fourth-quarter stats paint troubling picture ahead of NBA playoffs

The Boston Celtics had an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's matchup against the Charlotte Hornets, and yet they still lost after giving up a 30-5 run to end the game.

The 124-117 defeat was among the most painful for the Celtics this season. They played really well offensively for most of the night, highlighted by five Celtics players scoring in double-figures, including Jaylen Brown's 29 points off the bench.

The game got away from Boston in the fourth quarter, and it was another example of the team's inability to close out games this month.

Here are some troubling fourth-quarter stats for the Celtics in March.

Saturday night's numbers were similarly disappointing.

One of the major issues with the Celtics is not getting to the free throw line. They rank 29th of 30 NBA teams in free throw attempts per game. They also attempt just 6.6 free throws per game in fourth quarters. Brown took two free throws Saturday night at the 10:21 mark of the fourth quarter with the C's up 102-93, and it was the last time Boston went to the free throw line. 

The Celtics simply stopped attacking, and the shot chart provides the evidence.

The C's cannot let their foot off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter, especially against teams with a dominant scorer like Hornets guard Kemba Walker. Not only did the C's stop attacking the basket, their defense made no adjustments to slow down Walker and force other Charlotte players to step up. Taking 3-pointers and trying to go for the kill allows the opponent to get stops, excel in transition and build the confidence needed to complete a comeback.

The Celtics must fix their fourth-quarter issues or their playoff run likely will be short lived. 

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Enes Kanter lays out saddening circumstance he has with Turkish government

Enes Kanter lays out saddening circumstance he has with Turkish government

Enes Kanter is a known critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his feud with his home country's government has yielded several hardships for the Celtics' new big man. 

Most recently, Kanter was confronted by two Turkish-speaking men outside a local mosque while he was with teammate Tacko Fall. Kanter called it a "crazy and scary" situation and later contacted the FBI and other law enforcement officials to ensure his safety moving forward. 

On Monday night, Kanter tweeted an overview of everything he and his family have had to endure at the hands of the Turkish government. 

Kanter has the support of Massachusetts State Senator Ed MarkeyCongressman Joe Kennedy III and gave a speech about freedom and human rights and in front of the Massachusetts State Senate. 

So while Kanter claims his home country suppresses free speech, he is free to speak however much he wants while in the United States. 

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ESPN ranks the Celtics 15th in their annual NBA League Pass Rankings

ESPN ranks the Celtics 15th in their annual NBA League Pass Rankings

Most basketball junkies have already mapped out which teams they'll try to watch outside of their own on NBA League Pass this season, and ESPN's annual League Pass rankings give us a good reference to make our decisions off of. 

Last season, the Celtics had sky-high expectations after making it to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. Zach Lowe had them ranked No. 2 behind just the Sixers.

Philly remains at the top spot this year after stealing Al Horford from the Celtics and is a serious contender for the NBA title. The Celtics, after losing Horford, Irving, Terry Rozier, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris, are considered a tier below their division rival and suffered a steep drop to 15th in this year's League Pass Rankings. 

An excerpt from Lowe's take on this year's Celtics:

Boston drops 13 spots despite replacing a frowny-faced philosopher-point guard (Kyrie Irving) with a rough stylistic equivalent in Kemba Walker -- owner of the league's nastiest in-and-out dribble. The combined departures -- Al Horford's subtle brilliance, Marcus Morris' toughness, Terry Rozier's long 2s, Guerschon Yabusele's ass -- cannot inflict this much damage on Boston's watchability.
...
There is hope Boston can settle into a watchability zone between this ranking and last season's. The chemistry presumably isn't toxic now. Gordon Hayward should be closer to Utah form. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are hungry. One or both could make All-Star pushes; Tatum looks to be attacking the rim more already. His reclining, willowy midrangers are basketball grace notes, analytics be damned.

The Celtics were nearly unwatchable last season as inconsistent play and off-court drama defined the undoing of a masterclass rebuild by Danny Ainge. With a fresh start and a brand new point guard in Kemba Walker, the Celtics should be one of the more fun teams to watch when it's all said and done. 

The main concern for this year's team is on the defensive end of the floor without ample replacements for Horford and Baynes. However, Boston has been the league's top defensive unit in the preseason and earned some praise from Larry Nance Jr

Obviously, it's just preseason and there's only so much you can take from it. If the Celtics can prove to be a top-10 defense to couple with what should be an excellent offensive attack led by Walker and three incredibly talented wings, they'll move up more than just some League Pass Rankings. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.