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Must Cs: Dennis Schroder steal upends Celtics in Thunder comeback

The Celtics remained poised after four losses in five games, two of which featured monumental collapses in the final minutes.

Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

It mirrored the epic collapse on Tuesday, one poised to be the worst loss of the season with no close competitor. The Celtics only led the Nets by as many as 13 in that game. On Sunday, Boston cruised ahead by 18 in the second quarter only to squander it to 11 by halftime.

With the game in hand after a Jayson Tatum block and finish in transition, the Celtics only needed to in-bound the ball up by one point with eight seconds left. Steven Adams had just missed two free throws and Kemba Walker stopped Chris Paul in isolation.

A Boston win became its fourth loss in five games in a flash, as Dennis Schroder spotted Walker in a trap after the in-bounds and rushed him. As Walker dribbled backwards to escape two defenders, Schroder stripped him and scored to win the game. Oklahoma City now has eight more fourth-quarter comebacks than any other team, the highest net rating in the final frame and five wins after trailing by 18 or more. That’s the most by any team in 20 seasons.

Locker room reaction to the worst week is below, courtesy of CLNS Media. Check out The Garden Report too.

Kemba Walker: “I turned the ball over, so I’m a little upset about that.”

Walker lamented again about his need to be better considering his turnovers playing a role in late collapses to the Nets and now Thunder. “I tried to get out of the double, when I turned around (Schroder) came and made a great play on the ball.”

Brad Stevens: “Kemba did the exact right thing. He tried to dribble away from the obvious trap that was coming.”

Stevens thought Walker did the right things until Schroder took a successful risk to blitz him while he dribbled out of a trap. “I know he’s down about it, but they made a good defensive play on that.”

Gordon Hayward: “(The knee) is sore, but manageable.”

Hayward shot 9-for-19 with 24 points in his return from two games off with a sore right knee.

Jayson Tatum: “It’s a shot I can make, next time.”

Tatum battled Paul late in the game, who didn’t have the height, but got under Tatum on shots like last second fadeaway that fell short of the rim.

Oklahoma City Thunder —

Chris Paul: “(Jayson Tatum) probably got the shot he wanted, but I just made it tough on him. I love defense.”

The Celtics shot 3-for-5 over Chris Paul from three. He held his defenders outside the paint, including Jayson Tatum on a last-second attempt to win the game after Schroder scored the winning bucket. Paul discussed that play and the changing shape of what’s important on defense.

Abdel Nader: “It felt a little good (to win in Boston).”

Former Celtic Abdel Nader returned and blocked four shots. He stuffed Marcus Smart twice near the rim, a Tatum turnaround attempt and a Kemba Walker three around a screen. Nader played 48 games with the C’s in 2017-18 and developed extensively with the Red Claws before Boston traded him one summer after signing him.

Billy Donovan: “Our effort and our competitiveness is perfect.”

The Thunder entered without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Darius Bazley yet successfully extended their league-leading fourth quarter comeback total to 14. “I thought our guys did an incredible job closing the half and getting it to 11,” Donovan said, a stretch that overcame a 19-4 Celtics runner that preceded it.

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