The Boston Celtics squandered their first opportunity to come out on top of a stake-raising battle in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament, falling short to the Indiana Pacers in the quarterfinal round.

That made for an obvious blow, especially coming off a thrilling tournament victory over the Chicago Bulls in which the Celtics were in a backs-against-the-wall situation, threatened by failing to make it out of Group C. So the commitment was there, but the execution, much like in last season’s playoffs, was far from good enough to get the job done.

Being that the tournament is merely a spectacle that holds no meaning, Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla isn’t mourning over Boston’s elimination too much and is instead reflecting on its learning lessons.

“Anytime you have a chance to win at something and you don’t do it, you’re pissed off and you’re disappointed, and so there’s that,” Mazzulla shared Friday on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Zolak & Bertrand” program. “But there’s also the beacon point of like, it’s a really good perspective of trying to win at something. … The more important thing is every day we gotta remind ourselves about what our goals are and understand those little things that go into winning. And so it was a good opportunity for us to learn that.”

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Granted, there were plenty of lessons to take away, but none the Celtics shouldn’t already be aware of.

The two biggest killers that dragged Boston right to elimination, and will do so in the playoffs if not addressed, are simple: Turnovers and third-quarter scoring. Those two deficiencies caused the Celtics to give the Pacers an advantage throughout Monday night’s loss.

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However, the inability to score in the second-to-final quarter of play isn’t new.

The Celtics aren’t just mediocre or bad, they’re in fact, the NBA’s worst-performing offense in the third quarter, averaging a league-fewest 25.3 points on 42.2% shooting from the field — — also a league-worst.

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There’s a plethora of factors that play into those results such as subpar bench depth. Boston still doesn’t have an established, reliable second unit to maintain or build upon leads in late games while Mazzulla seeks rest for the starters, making closeouts a much more difficult task.

“It obviously starts with our turnovers,” Mazzulla admitted. “And turnovers are never as simple as, like, we came down and threw it away. I think they’re a byproduct of other things. Are we screening right? Are we spaced right? Are we organized in offense? … We gotta clean up our execution and our spacing so that the reads are easier to make and we don’t turn it over.”

Boston gets its first chance to effectively put its tournament disappointment in the rear-view mirror, hosting the New York Knicks on Friday night at TD Garden.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images