Celtics

Why Ainge was 'very frustrated' after Celtics' loss to Heat

Celtics

The morning after his Boston Celtics dropped Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Miami Heat, team president of basketball operations Danny Ainge kept coming back to one word: "frustrated."

That's a fitting adjective to describe yet another close defeat for the C's, who now have lost four of their six postseason games by one possession.

Why can't Boston step up in crunch time? Ainge saw a clear culprit in Game 4.

Celtics' performance in crunch time is both brutal and concerning

"The turnovers -- there were so many of them that were just unforced turnovers," Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Toucher & Rich." "And so that is frustrating. I’ve always been a person that has taken blame as a player."

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers Wednesday night, more than double that of the Heat, who turned the ball over eight times and just twice in the second half.

Tyler Herro also dropped a career-high 37 points, which could be seen as an indictment on C's head coach Brad Stevens for failing to make an adjustment to stop the Heat rookie.

Ainge was hesitant to assign blame, though, instead returning to Boston's carelessness with the basketball as cause for Thursday's loss.

"I don’t question my coach. I don’t question my players,” Ainge said. “I just look at what they’re doing, and last night was one of those games where I was very frustrated in that I didn’t think anything Miami was doing was causing us to make the plays that we made. They were unforced errors."

 

Here's another stat Ainge may have noticed: All but five of Boston's turnovers Thursday came from the trio of Jaylen Brown (six), Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart (four each), all of whom are 26 or younger.

Turning the tide

Boston's turnover percentage in ECF
16.5%
Miami's turnover percentage in ECF
11.6%

"I don’t know if our guys are at the stage of their career where they can continue to play with the same force defensively and focus when things aren’t going their way. A lot of that is just maturity," Ainge said. 

"A lot of that is we just have 22 and 23 [year-old players], and I’m not making excuses for age, because our young guys have been through a lot, and had some shining, brilliant moments."

The Celtics will need their young players to be brilliant (and hold onto the ball) in Game 5 on Friday night if they want to extend their stay in Orlando.