BOSTON – The youthful energy of the Boston Celtics has been a constant this season and is one of the main reasons why the Celtics are still among the teams still with games to play.
But being too excited has its downside, something we have seen more of in Boston’s last two games against Cleveland – both losses.
That exuberance on the part of some of the Celtics’ young players manifested itself into missed dunks, blown lay-ups and some bad defensive sequences that have factored heavily into this series being tied at two games apiece after Boston jumped out to a 2-0 series lead.
Boston is hoping the comforts of home will settle down the young troops in tonight’s Game 5 matchup.
Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 25 points in Game 4, but his point tally could have been even higher if not for missed dunks and lay-up attempts driving towards the basket.
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“Just … going too fast, too excited,” said Brown, in his second NBA season. “I just need to slow down; missed a bunch of easy opportunities. Made some bad turnovers, things like that.”
In the first quarter of Game 4, Brown had two points but missed six of his seven shot attempts and played all but 20 seconds in the first. And rookie Jayson Tatum, the team’s leading scorer (18.0 points per game) in the playoffs, was scoreless after missing all three of his field goal attempts in the first quarter of Game 4 before finishing with 17 points. Their struggles were a reflection of the Celtics as a team which shot a collective 26.9 percent (7-for-26) from the field in the first quarter. But the point made by Brown about being in a rush, is what you come to expect from a team that’s strength lies heavily in something as unstable as youth.
It hasn’t been an issue this season, but with what’s at stake and most of these guys having never been in this deep in the postseason, it’s understandable how their anxiousness to do well might at times get the best of them.
That said, don’t think for a minute that the struggles they had at times in Game 3 or 4 will do anything to dent their confidence coming into tonight's game.
“Sometimes you just miss shots,” said Tatum who was named to the NBA’s all-rookie first team on Tuesday. “Some of the dunks, the lay-ups we missed, more than likely will go in next time.”
And as far as being sped up by the Cavs, Tatum believes that had a lot to do with the Celtics being in catch-up mode.
“We been through that sometimes,” he said. “On the road, once you get down it gets loud. You get in a hurry, trying to get the lead back. We have to understand that we can’t get it back in one play."
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Or with one player.
Because for Boston to get regain a series edge with a Game 5 win tonight, it won’t be one or two players to get it done.
Boston will have to do it the way they’ve been doing it all season, and that’s with a collection of players chipping in with whatever it is they do best.
Many of those contributions will most likely come from their youthful core as they continue to help pave the way for more success for the Celtics and with that, sustain the youth movement that has been instrumental in Boston's unexpectedly deep playoff journey.