The Boston Celtics often forget the same lesson they have taught numerous teams over the years. The game is never over till its final buzzer and you have to play for 48 minutes.
The Celtics lead by as many as 18 points over the Philadelphia 76′ers in Game 4 before collapsing Miami Heat style in the second half, minus the disrespecting of their coach, in a 92-83 loss.
Philly outscored the Celtics 61-37 in the final 24 minutes and have evened the series at 2-2.
Andre Iguodala (16 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists) essentially closed Boston out in the final 90 seconds with a personal 5-0 run that sealed the Celtics fate.
Iguodala hit a step back jumper that gave the 76′ers an 85-83 lead with 1:22 left to play. He would then hit a three with 36.9 seconds remaining pushing the Philly lead to 5 and that was all she wrote for Boston.
The Celtics “lost their composure” according to Doc Rivers when Philly became physical with Boston in the third quarter. Turnovers and fouls ensued for the Celtics which allowed the 76′ers free throw attempts and easy fast break points. A deadly combination that Rivers warned his team about at the beginning of the series, especially the turnovers.
Boston turned the ball over 17 times and committed 28 fouls. As a result the 76′ers enjoyed a series high 27 fast break points and they connected on 25-36 free throw attempts. Boston was just 16-19 from the line in comparison.
Kevin Garnett cooled off dramatically making just 2-13 from the field for 9 points, 11 rebounds and 7 turnovers. If he has just an average game the Celtics win going away.
Paul Pierce lead the C’s with 24 points and 6 rebounds. As Boston lost their composure they forgot what had been working for them in this game and that was Pierce. The Celtics captain was 8-13 from the floor in the game but just 1-2 in the final quarter. Why he didn’t get more shot attempts is a question the Celtics will have to address in Game 5.
Rajon Rondo seemingly hands out assists in his sleep which is what he did tonight. His final line of 15 points and 15 assists are lofty but they didn’t pack the punch one would hope from such a line.
Rondo quipped after the game, “I should have slowed the team down and gotten guys into the right spots when they (Philadelphia) were making their run.”
Um, yes. That is exactly what should have happened but sadly it did not for Boston.
The 76′ers continue to be just a group of guys playing for their coach and each other. The contributions they are getting from their bench comes from names the average NBA fan would Kanye shrug their shoulders at. Lavoy Allen (8 points and 10 rebounds), Thaddeus Young (12 points and 9 rebounds), and Jodie Meeks (9 points) all made huge contributions to the 76′ers, comeback in Game 4.
Philly’s bench dwarfed Boston’s by a 44-12 margin and the Celtics still have no answers on how to stop that type of bleeding going forward.
The Celtics again got bit by their Achilles heel of rebounding giving up an inexcusable 17 offensive rebounds to the 76′ers. Boston was out-rebounded 52-38 overall.
Despite all of that, Boston still had an opportunity to take this game and series by the throat if they would have done one simple thing.
The Celtics gave up on their penetration and going to the basket strategy settling for jumpers as the 76′ers got physical. Something else Rivers will need to address.
Now the Celtics have given this team Philadelphia team another boost of confidence. The 76′ers have the edge in late game execution in this series now, despite the Celtics wealth of experience.
Boston has shown the 76′ers how they can be beaten and the 76′ers have been paying attention.
When the Celtics get up big they start to feel good about themselves. When they start to feel good about themselves they get lazy and feel self entitled. When the Celtics feel self entitled they lose.
This was the anatomy of a Celtics loss. More self entitled efforts like this one will soon lead to an autopsy of a failed season.
About the Author
Written by Warren Shaw
I am an avid Basketball fan who has worked for the New York Knicks, Alonzo Mourning Charities and various other sports organizations. Having covered many NBA and various professional sporting events has given me the opportunity to provide insight with an unbiased but flavor driven view. I look forward to providing NBA content and interacting with knowledgeable fans and readers. Follow me on Twitter @shawsports or Email your questions to me at Warrenshaw@prosportsblogging.com