The Boston Celtics have no choice left but to empty the tank with the Golden State Warriors only one win away from winning an NBA title.
The only issue for the Celtics when it comes to that, is they might already be out of gas.
Boston wilted during the fourth quarter of Game 5 on Monday night, as the Warriors surged ahead in the final frame to take a 3-2 series lead. The Celtics not only lost their composure in the stanza, but also looked like a tired bunch, especially Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, at the end of a grueling playoff run.
Tatum and Brown played all but 1:19 of the second half — they each ended up logging 44 minutes — and didn’t have much left to offer a Boston offense that needs them to carry it at times. The Celtics stars combined to go 2-for-9 from the field in the fourth quarter, which led to a stagnate and unproductive offense that couldn’t keep pace with the Warriors.
“We ran them obviously a longer stretch to get back in the game in the third,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said following his team’s 104-94 defeat. “Looked like our decision-making waned a little bit in the fourth, and it could have been from that. We weren’t getting a whole lot of production off the bench, went with them a little bit longer being that they got us back in it and tried to use the timeouts for their rest. But we got away from a little bit of what got us back in the game in the third, and decision-making and fatigue could be the reason why.”
Out of the two, Tatum looked more worn out than Brown over the latter stages of the second half. After a strong third-quarter performance from Tatum helped the Celtics overcome a 12-point halftime deficit, the 6-foot-8 forward started to fade with his shots nowhere close to hitting. Here’s what happened on Tatum’s final eight shots of the game:
Missed driving floater
Missed 25-foot 3-pointer (Airball)
Missed fadeaway jumper (Airball)
Missed driving layup
Missed step-back jumper (Airball)
Missed fadeaway jumper
Made 24-foot 3-pointer
Missed 26-foot 3-pointer (Airball)
Tatum connected on just one of his final eight shots, with half of his attempts not touching anything. Tatum’s fatigue, whether physical, mental or both, also played a part in him going 2-for-6 from the free-throw line.
“I had couple shots that were short,” Tatum said. “I just got to not fade as much, use my legs. You’re going to be a little more tired in the fourth than you are in the first quarter. But you got to get your legs a little more under you on a couple of those shots. Give yourself a chance.”
Brown certainly wasn’t much better, recording a team-high five turnovers, including giving the ball up twice in the fourth quarter. He finished the game 5-for-18 shooting, including missing all five of his attempts from beyond the arc.
“I want to be on the floor, and Ime trusted me to be out there,” Brown said. “Over the course of the game we made some good plays. We were in it. It felt like we couldn’t get over the hump.”
Tatum, Brown and the Celtics better hope they have some fuel hidden in reserve or they will have to watch the Warriors celebrate winning an NBA title on the parquet at TD Garden on Thursday.