On a second night of a back-to-back and missing three starters, the Celtics had every excuse to drop a game in Brooklyn. However, they fought tooth and nail to the end in a 109-104 loss to the Nets with a chance to win against the #2 team in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, the turnover bug bit them again.
For the season, the Celtics are middle of the pack when it comes to giveaways at 14.3 per game. Since the trade deadline, they’re averaging 15.2 TO’s a game during their 11-5 stretch.
They’ve been able to win big games posting ugly numbers like against a depleted Lakers team and Friday night against the Suns, but there have been games like last night against the Nets and two and half weeks ago hosting the 76ers where they couldn’t overcome their mistakes.
Brad Stevens discussing the turnover issue the Celtics have had this season pic.twitter.com/yRzQXHYLj0— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) April 24, 2021
When asked about the 32-to-3 difference in fast break points, Brad Stevens said, “turnovers are a big part of that from a defensive perspective. We have to play with better pace up the floor. There’s no question about it. When you turn the ball over nineteen times and that’s become an issue for our team regardless of who’s on the floor, it’s hard to come back.”
Without Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Robert Williams, Boston’s young depth was tested and players were put in positions that they haven’t mastered yet.
This is a play that Grant Williams has made a few times this year. Above the break, he’s looking to hand off to a wing or shooter--Evan Fournier in this case--but if he sees a crack in the defense, he’s got a green light to turn the corner and attack the basket. Right now, he doesn’t have that left handed dribble locked down yet and he fumbles it off his leg.
Here’s a back breaker at the end of the third quarter. After the Celtics had whittled down the Nets’ lead from double digits to six, a couple of turnovers and transition threes hemorrhaged into a 16-point deficit. After not playing basketball for nearly eight months, Romeo Langford is still getting his legs underneath him and tightening up his handle. In the past, he’s been effective as a slasher, catching the ball in motion and using his big frame to get to the rim, but breaking down defenders off the dribble isn’t a strength yet. Kyrie Irving isn’t exactly a hawk on the ball, but he’s got quick hands.
With fewer creators and shooters on the floor, Stevens used Tatum in the post to invert the offense and give guys like Williams and Langford attack angles cutting to the rim. Unfortunately, so many of those passes were anticipated and intercepted by Brooklyn.
As bad as Boston played, NBC Sports Boston’s Kendrick Perkins did make a great observations on one of the final plays of the game. It’s seemingly a silly turnover from Smart to the Celtics bench that in effect ended their comeback. Fournier should be camped out there for the corner 3. We’ll credit COVID brain for that one. But as Perk points out, it illustrates the trust and chemistry that the team has built over the last sixty games.
It’s possible these high turnover blemishes are just the product of the Celtics’ renewed commitment to ball movement. For what it’s worth, here’s a fun fact: when the Celtics turn the ball over 13 or fewer times in a game, they’re 8-11; they’re 5-1 in games where they’ve given up 20+ TO’s. So as frustrating as a couple of errant passes can be, they might just be a case of taking the good with the bad.