The Boston Celtics pulled out a big-time win over the surging Cleveland Cavaliers last night. Boston held multiple 20-point leads throughout the night, but also consistently allowed the Cavs to go on runs. That’s become quite a theme for the C’s this season.
Boston shot the ball well on the night (46.7 percent from the field, 36.7 percent from deep), but went on multiple offensive lulls throughout the game. At the same time, they allowed the Cavs to out-hustle them at times, and it let Cleveland hang around in the game.
Head coach Ime Udoka commented on their lackluster third quarter and how they need to adjust moving forward after the game.
“Solid overall, start to finish, other than that lull in the third. It’s reflected on our offense, really. I felt we were still playing pretty good defensively, they only scored 25, but we only scored 22. The message to the guys was, ‘how are we going to take that next step in our growth and keep our foot on the gas when we have a team down?’”
There have been a ton of games this season where the Celtics have blown a lead in the final quarter. The meltdown against the Chicago Bulls is a prime example, as is the loss to Cleveland earlier in the season. Playing a full four quarters of basketball is crucial, and the C’s have struggled with that.
Udoka credited big man Robert Williams for helping keep the Celtics in this one. While he made a few mistakes early on, his overall presence played a major part in maintaining their lead.
“He made probably three or four plays in the fourth quarter that saved the lead from declining even more… He was huge, obviously, the numbers show it, but his impact in other ways as well.”
Williams ended the night with 21 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists while shooting 10-12 from the field. He also nabbed two steals and two blocks, with one of his takeaways leading to an electric two-hand slam on the other end.
The best message Udoka gave to the team, though, was one that should stick with Celtics fans moving forward.
“Staying consistent with what got us the lead. I told them, ‘don’t get bored with what made us successful.’”
Consistency is key, as they say. Too many times has this Celtics team got caught slipping back into bad habits on the offensive end. They get a big lead and they start playing isolation-heavy basketball again. Udoka sees it, and based on his statements, he’s urging his team to correct that issue.