Through twenty-two games of the postseason, it seems like the Celtics have been the Celtics’ biggest opponent. With all due respect to Brooklyn, Milwaukee, Miami, and now Golden State, the league’s best team in the new year has so soften beat themselves. Whether it’s an avalanche of turnovers or poor third quarters, Boston has been their worst enemy.
With the Warriors up 1 to start the final frame of Game 4, the Celtics were seemingly their own worst enemy again, even more so than an electric Steph Curry. Much of Curry’s 43-point damage had been done earlier in the game — a game that teammate Klay Thompson called the best of his playoff career — but a dagger 3 with 1:42 left in the 4th that pushed the lead to six seemed to punctuate all of Boston’s earlier mistakes.
“We had our opportunities tonight, especially when we did have a 5-6 point lead. It felt like we didn’t have our best possessions and kinda let them back in the game whether it was turnovers or poor offense,” Ime Udoka said after the game.
“It’s been our whole season, especially this postseason. We’ve gad to do it the difficult way. We’ve been battle tested throughout some series (with) Milwaukee and Miami and have to do it again. It could have been an easier road obviously if he got the win tonight, but it is what it is. We’re 2-2 now, we know we can do it, keep your head up, and let’s get one on the road.”
“It’s kind of been us this whole playoff run,” Horford said laughingly. “We feel like we’ve kinda put it together, and now, our backs are against the wall. This team, we’ve shown that when our backs are against the wall, we have to come out and respond. Obviously, it’s a big challenge ahead.”
The Celtics mistakes are no laughing matter. Boston has been crushing Golden State with their half court defense, but the Warriors have capitalized on the random. With a chance to take a strangle hold on The Finals, Boston gave up sixteen offensive rebounds for nineteen second chance points to the Warriors. Fifteen turnovers turned into another nineteen.
“We don’t do this s#%& on purpose. I promise you we don’t. We trying as hard as we can. There are certain things we gotta clean up (like) turnovers, movement on the offensive end,” Jayson Tatum said after making just two of his nine shots and giving up two turnovers after halftime.
“Would we have liked to have won today and be up 3-1? That would have been best case scenario, but it’s The Finals and in the art of competition, they came here feeling like they had to win. It wasn’t easy. That’s kind of the beauty of it. It’s not going to be easy and it shouldn’t be. We both want it and we gotta take it.”
The team still feels confident that they can win the series. These Celtics have now famously not lost back-to-back games during this playoff run and since January 21st with a healthy team in the regular season. Can they make it eight in a row and how will they prove resilient yet again?
“Just be who we are. It’s all we can do. Control what you can control. Tonight is over. We gotta turn around and get right back to it Monday. That’s how we’ve been all year. We take a loss and we bounce back. It’s who we are and who we’re going to continue to be,” Marcus Smart said.
“It’s a very important game on Monday.”