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Joe Mazzulla on Celtics loss to Cavaliers: ‘We let go of the rope’

Boston dropped to 4-3 with their overtime loss in Cleveland.

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

For the second time in the span of a week, the Boston Celtics lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime. This time around, it was a 113-114 loss in Cleveland, as the Celtics failed to overcome another impressive performance from the Cavaliers’ backcourt.

Darius Garland put up 29 points, while Donovan Mitchell chipped in with 25. Despite Jayson Tatum’s impressive efforts to send the game to overtime, Boston couldn’t keep up.

After the game, Joe Mazzulla said the team’s composure wasn’t the issue, but instead, it was a lack of execution.

“I mean, I thought we kept our composure. I thought we missed shots on the offensive end, and they gave up 16 transition points in the second half. And so, from a composure standpoint, it was fine, but we let go of the rope a little bit as far as making them have to play against our set defense in the second half, and they came up with a timely offensive rebound.”

The Celtics were up by six points at halftime. And while their three-point shooting numbers matched up well from half to half, they got beat up in the paint. Cleveland outscored them down low 30-18 in the second half.

With Mitchell leading the way, the Cavaliers shot 15-for-19 from the painted area, while Boston went just 9-for-19. The Celtics were able to get out in transition and generate looks down low, but they were either met by Jarrett Allen in the paint or simply missed an easy look, which led to their poor percentage.

Despite all that, they still had a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime, as Jaylen Brown got a turnaround look at the elbow. The shot didn’t fall, but Mazzulla expressed his confidence in the look.

“I thought there was great spacing, JB to his right hand. I thought it was going in.”

Brown started the game with a hot first quarter, scoring nine points on 3-of-6 shooting, but he struggled the rest of the way. From that point on, his shooting numbers trailed off, as he finished the game just 10-of-26 from the field and 3-of-10 from distance.

He led the team in scoring with 30 points, as Jayson Tatum dropped an inefficient 26 points, shooting 8-of-21 from the field and 2-of-9 from deep.

It was the first game this season where they shot under 30% from three-point range as a team, ending the night a disappointing 11-of-41. In all three of Boston’s losses this year, they’ve shot under 40% from deep, while in three of their four wins, they’ve surpassed that mark.

But while the slow start has some questioning the Celtics’ rebounding and shooting, Tatum remains confident. He’s not worried in the slightest.

“One thing I’ve realized about being in the Finals is like - you’re all the way playing in June. You realize that stressing about a game in - what’s today, November 2? Obviously, you want to win every game you play, but s***, we’ve got 74 more games. Take it one game at a time.”

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