The Boston Celtics didn’t appear anything like the 64-win team that dominated the Eastern Conference when the chance to close out the Dallas Mavericks was at the table in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

“That was embarrassing by the Celtics,” Barkley said after Game 4 Friday night on NBA TV. “They actually thought the Mavs were gonna quit. They came out nonchalant, lackadaisical. … If you’re the Celtics, and obviously I still feel very good about them in the series, but that was so unprofessional the way they played that game tonight.”

Despite having a commanding 3-0 series advantage, urgency was at an all-time low for the Celtics. The offense was stagnant, lacked energy, and it was clear as daylight that Boston’s starting five was in no shape to compete with Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving and a desperate Mavericks team fighting for its life. This became especially evident when by halftime, the Celtics had only totaled 35 points on 29.7% shooting from the field with seven turnovers.

That divot was much too deep, accounting for Boston’s ugly 122-84 loss.

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who combined for 61 points in Game 3, laid an egg by pitching in 25 points together. Boston’s star tandem was shockingly stumped by Dallas and its defensive intensity, forcing impatient and undisciplined passes and shot attempts until it was time for head coach Joe Mazzulla to remove all the starters and unload the bench in garbage time.

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“If the Celtics come out just jackin’ up jumpers, going through the motions, Dallas has a chance,” Barkley added.

The pressure may be on the Mavericks, who are entering yet another win-or-go-home scenario in Game 5, however, the Celtics are neck and neck, too. Boston hasn’t lost twice consecutively throughout the postseason or more than twice consecutively in the regular season. To go 0-for-2 in close-out chances after taking a 3-0 series lead, booking a potential Game 6 in Dallas, would open the door for an even greater outpour of outside narratives — fair and unwarranted.

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That all can be avoided with a Larry O’Brien clincher on Monday night.

Featured image via Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports Images