Celtics Know What They’re Doing Wrong, So Why Can’t They Change It?

'When you're in the moment, it's tough sometimes'


March 25, 2021

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens rejected the idea that the way Boston lost Wednesday against the Milwaukee Bucks was a pattern.

“Yeah, I mean I don’t know if it’s a pattern. I’ve been answering questions the last few weeks, rightfully so, about our fourth quarters,” Stevens told reporters during his postgame video conference. “Maybe we have a few patterns? But that certainly doesn’t feel like a pattern over the last couple times. Obviously, the Cleveland game was like that, but certainly, the Memphis game wasn’t, the Orlando game wasn’t.”

Well, if it wasn’t part of a long-standing pattern it certainly resembled the tendencies to something that at least has come one or two times before it. The Celtics started off fine, but that was en route to allowing 70 first-half points before trialing by 14 points entering the final 12 minutes.

Boston made a run to get back in the game, starting late in the third quarter, but familiarly fell short in the comeback as a Daniel Theis 3-pointer clanked off the rim at the buzzer. The end result was a 121-119 loss.

The crazy thing is that the Celtics know what they have to do to stop having to fight their way out of 25-point holes, 90-65, with less than 19 minutes left in the game. They become lifeless. They stop playing with urgency. They practically stop playing, period.

Their defensive intensity completely disappears, which was perhaps best depicted as the Celtics gave up 20 points in the first 5:32 of the third quarter. (That’s practically a 160 points-per-game average.)

Then, that makes its way to the offense. The ball starts to stick, which ultimately turns into settling for terrible shots, such as a 28-footer step-back jumper by Jayson Tatum when trailing by 22 points.

If it is not a pattern, it’s commonplace. And the C’s don’t seem to have the answers on how to stop it.

“When you’re in the moment, it’s tough sometimes,” Kemba Walker said on a conference call when flat out asked what makes it so hard to implement what Boston knows it should be implementing. “It just, it just is what it is.

“When you’re in the moment you got to try to get yourself out of it. You depend on teammates to get you out of certain situations. It just is what it is. I know I have said it before. I would like to stop, obviously. But it happened,” Walker said.

Don’t be surprised when it happens again.

Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Images
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