Al Horford mentioned the quiet half out loud.
With Joel Embiid sidelined, the Boston Celtics fell into the identical lure they at all times have – they misplaced to a short-handed workforce as a result of they performed right down to their competitors. And Horford admitted that it affected their vitality.
“As a lot as you need to say that it wasn’t an element, I feel it was,” Horford mentioned. “And we’ve got to be higher. We’ve got to grasp that we’ve got to have the ability to play with no matter occurs, no matter variables.”
In November, it’s no matter. In January, it’s an annoying one-off. In April, it’s a regarding incidence.
In Could, it’s unacceptable.
After dropping two gut-punching video games to the Atlanta Hawks within the first spherical, the Celtics closed the collection with an emphatic 5 minutes. As Jaylen Brown would say, “the vitality shifted,” and it felt like issues had been trending up.
However on Monday evening, the Celtics took one big leap backward. With Embiid sidelined, James Harden dropped 45 factors on their heads, embarrassing them on their very own dwelling flooring and choosing up an enormous win for his Philadelphia 76ers.
“I don’t assume our stress and depth was essentially as excessive because it most likely ought to have been to start out,” mentioned Jayson Tatum. “All through the course of the sport, they hit pictures, they usually had been in a superb rhythm.”
Harden’s 45 factors had been supported by 26 from Tyrese Maxey, 18 from Tobias Harris, and a monster 17 from De’Anthony Melton off the bench, which included 5 three-pointers.
A extreme lack of vitality was on full show as Boston floundered on the defensive finish, failing to seek out any reply for a fast-paced, assured Philadelphia offense–that was lacking the soon-to-bee MVP.
“Actually, we didn’t get stops all evening lengthy,” mentioned Malcolm Brogdon. “I imply, that’s actually the reply. We didn’t get the stops we would have liked. We performed good preliminary protection after which would have some sort of breakdown for a layup or an open three.”
Boston’s defensive fiasco was matched by a whole catastrophe on the offensive finish.
One take a look at the field rating will let you know that the Celtics shot 58.7% from the sector and 38.5% from three-point vary – top-tier numbers, however a more in-depth look unveils a harsh actuality.
Within the second half, the Celtics–a workforce that averaged 42.6 threes per recreation–shot simply 12. Their lack of threes wasn’t a results of a rise in paint touches however relatively a harrowing end result of their slow-paced, bleed-the-clock late-game mindset.
Relatively than maintain their up-tempo, pass-heavy offensive model that works to perfection, the Celtics constantly select to gradual issues down and utterly probability their offensive model.
Even Brown was annoyed with the workforce’s selections post-game.
“No. I needed to push the tempo, but when we’re not working, you bought to ensure you care for the basketball,” Brown mentioned when requested if he selected to gradual issues down in transition late within the recreation. “I might have made a play the transition there, but when I don’t have any retailers and no one’s working, it’s a foul possession. So, you at all times need to be sure that your guys are working with you. And proper there, I simply felt like I used to be working on my own.”
The Celtics have made the identical errors over and over. From Sport 5 in opposition to the Hawks this 12 months, to their three-game dropping streak in the beginning of March during which they blew three-straight double-digit leads, to Sport 6 (and seven) in opposition to the Miami Warmth within the Jap Convention Finals final season.
Nothing has modified, and regardless of what number of occasions Boston shines shiny with their lockdown protection and high-powered offense, they at all times fall again into dangerous habits.
“I suppose,” Tatum mentioned when requested if the Celtics missed an enormous alternative in Sport 1. “S***, you simply need to win each recreation you play, whatever the circumstances. You simply need to win. And we didn’t do sufficient to win. Each recreation you lose is a missed alternative to get a win.”
It’s at all times the identical. The identical “we’ll be higher” and “we didn’t do sufficient” feedback after each loss during which the Celtics crumble to the best diploma.
In equity to the gamers, there’s nothing else for them to say. There’s nothing they’ll say after a defeat resembling this one as a result of they’ve already mentioned all of it earlier than.
All that’s left for them is to develop from their errors and never retreat again into them each probability they get.