Celtics head coach Ime Udoka and his players continue to stress the importance of solving their turnover troubles, but playoff game after playoff game Boston has put itself in the same bind.
It was the case during the Celtics’ run through the Eastern Conference, especially in games against the Miami Heat, and it now has transitioned to the NBA Finals stage. Boston turned the ball over 19 times against the Golden State on Sunday, and it helped the Warriors tie the series with a Game 2 victory.
It’s prompted one question throughout the city: Why can’t the Celtics stop those issues?
Udoka on Tuesday acknowledged the underlying reasons why Boston continues to turn the ball over. He also noted how the Celtics are 13-2 this postseason when they have 15 or fewer turnovers and 0-5 when they have 16 or more.
“(The) majority is over-penetrating, playing in the crowd, as I talk about quite often. Just not keeping it simple,” Udoka told reporters ahead of Game 3 in Boston, as transcribed by ASAP Sports. “You look at Game 1 where we had 33 assists on 43 baskets, crisp and sharp with our ball movements, not in the crowd. Led to a lot of wide-open threes against a team that packs the paint.
“To have 19 (turnovers) for 33 (points) and 11 in the first half last game, 15 of those 19 were steals. That’s directly playing in the crowd,” Udoka continued. “Unforced at times, but also over-penetrating. Have to have carryover and consistency in that area.”
Celtics stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been two of the biggest culprits of those miscues.
Brown’s ballhandling has, at least at times, proven to be a liability on the offensive end. And he added to Udoka’s point Tuesday with another contributing factor.
“Yeah, for the most part it’s usually the same things: spacing,” Brown told reporters, per ASAP Sports. “We get on top of each other, or we don’t move with purposeful actions all the time, don’t set screens the way we need to, get jumbled up together, which allows them to guard us a lot better or a lot easier than they should be. We just got to emphasize our spacing and be ready for what they do best and do what we do best.”
Tatum, similar to Brown, has given the ball away at a noteworthy clip. Boston’s Game 2 loss to Golden State was the 11th time this postseason he coughed it up four of more times. The First Team All-NBA selection is on pace to set an NBA record for most turnovers in postseason history, averaging 4.15 per game with a potential five contests left.
“Yeah, I mean, turnovers are a big part of the game, especially when you see how many times we turned it over and how many points they scored off that,” Tatum said. “You just think if you could limit those turnovers, you could limit a lot of those points. I mean, basically we don’t turn the ball over, we give ourselves a better chance to win. That’s not rocket science. It’s just a matter of doing that more often than not.”
The Celtics, a 3.5-point favorite entering Game 3 at TD Garden, will need to start addressing those issues on the floor rather than in the media room. Their next chance to do so will be Wednesday night with tipoff set for 9 p.m. ET.