Celtics’ winning streak is over – and the way it ended is enough to cast doubt on their going forward

CLEVELAND – It’s hard to say whether boston celtics It’s because of a poor performance in a big game or old demons that haven’t been exorcised yet.

Maybe they’re looking forward to a showdown with the champions and a possible preview of the finals denver nuggetsor maybe they relax a little when faced with annoying things cleveland cavalierswho doesn’t Donovan Mitchell Then, Evan Mobley.

The Celtics still have the best record in the league and still look as strong as many expected when the playoffs begin next month. The Celtics’ duality was on full display, blowing a 22-point lead in the playoffs. A 105-104 fourth quarter loss to the Cavaliers came after a baffling final possession on Tuesday night. Ended Boston’s 11-game winning streak.

Dean Wade Not only did he single-handedly beat the Celtics (20-17) in the fourth quarter, but he also hit the game-clinching basket, followed by a dunk. Darius Garland The turnover came with 19 seconds left, and the crowd at RocketMortgage Fieldhouse was unexpectedly excited.

On the Celtics’ final possession, Jayson TatumAs he often does in late situations, he got the transition he wanted against Garland, and instead of giving his team multiple chances to take the lead early, he went for a fadeaway jumper, but Missed. He almost got foul bailed out. Garland was called, but officials reviewed and said Tatum’s leg extended unnaturally and made contact with Garland, twisting Garland’s free throw line with 0.7 seconds left, effectively ending the game.

This is a bit of unfamiliar territory for the Celtics, who Beat Golden State Warriors by 52 points On Sunday, they outscored their opponents by 22 points in a streak that began on February 4th.

March 5, 2024; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Boston Celtics center Kristaps Porzingis (8) and forward Jayson Tatum (0) at Rockets Mortgage Arena Reacting after the second half against the Cleveland Cavaliers.Mandatory Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics head coach Joe Mazzula said he doesn’t mind if Tatum beats Garland with his height advantage and makes him look the way he does.but Jarrett Allen Coming in at the last second to help Garland change Tatum’s shot, it didn’t look easy even if Tatum got the look he wanted.

“I think we were very calm in this situation. Calmness is one thing, execution is another,” Mazzula said. “Execution isn’t about results, half of our shots looked really nice. The other ones, we had to get better shots.”

If the situation with a player like Wade or Tatum not leaving sooner is enough for the Celtics to get a one-time “get out of jail free” card, then the Celtics All-Star Jaylen Brown But there was nothing.

He may have looked at the statistics. Cleveland shot 73% in the fourth quarter, while the Celtics shot 31%.

“Today is important,” said Brown, who scored 21 points. “Whether everybody wants to throw it away or not, we have to look at the film and address some issues because it’s important. Your habits are everything, your mindset It’s all about it. You can do it.” Don’t waste property or time on the floor. “

Brown is a more serious type, so he’ll have a harder time accepting such a loss than someone who thinks one game in 82. He’s been with this team long enough to know the scrutiny ahead.

Especially when Mitchell missed the game with a left knee injury and Mobley left the game with a sprained right ankle, the Celtics were almost in a winless situation. With their winning streak and the upcoming showdown in Denver, victory was expected. .

Boston has Finals expectations and enough postseason heartbreak that this loss doesn’t sit well with a no-nonsense team that treats its opponents with a healthy dose of fear. But the fact that the Celtics still have the league’s best defense and most explosive three-point shooting shouldn’t be overshadowed by this serious loss.

In today’s NBA, shooting three-pointers and defense can be said to be the two main principles for winning. During the winning streak, the Celtics shot 42% from three-pointers, while their opponents shot only 32%.

They’re sixth in free throw percentage, they’re one of the best rebounding teams in the league, and their defenders all look malleable, switchable and rarely out of position.

The sky isn’t falling, and they’re still on track to easily surpass 60 wins if they don’t let their guard down once they’re inevitably locked into home games throughout the playoffs.

The Cavaliers’ comeback from a fourth-quarter deficit seemed fitting for a team that looked better when key pieces were missing and bench players were thrust into primary roles, but the Celtics just can’t seem to afford the absence of their standout players. Case.

Tatum made 1 of 9 shots in the fourth quarter, and the Celtics missed all eight three-pointers, while Wade had a perfect overall performance and hit five three-pointers – deployed as a small-ball center. The stretch and rhythm of the course is maintained to some extent. Crazy, unprecedented anomalies.

“It’s not in our players’ nature to give up,” Cavaliers head coach JB Bickerstaff said. “We’ve been shorthanded, we’ve been slumping. It seems like every time that happens, someone finds a way to step up and help us.” .”victory. Momentum started to build, the crowd started to boil and the shots started to fall. “

At that point, the Celtics’ veteran leadership is expected to step in and calm things down. The lessons learned from breakdowns and disappointments should be the scar tissue that prevents things from tipping over.

“For the most part, we have some good [looks]… We can get some better ones,” Mazzula said. “Seventeen points in the fourth quarter, you know they’re going to make a play.

If Tatum’s call had gone the other way, he likely would have missed the free throw and the Celtics could have gotten away without having to learn from the loss. But the weaknesses that everyone could point to had been revealed, and it was enough to cast a little doubt going forward.

“We played well enough for a good portion of it. In the second half, the fourth quarter, they got hot and we didn’t and they found a rhythm,” Tatum said. “The result was unfortunate. I think I got fouled and it was tough because we probably had a tip-in. It’s a strange way to end a game but they always say games are not won or won in the last play. Lose. A lot of things went wrong in Season 4.”

A lot of things are going well for this team so far this season. We just don’t know if Tuesday is a harbinger of things to come or just a blip on the road to June.

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