The Boston Celtics missed out.
In a winnable game against the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics’ old habits resurfaced, and not even Jayson Tatum’s 25 first-half points against a James Harden and Kevin Durant-less Nets team would save them.
Nor the fact that All-Star Kyrie Irving (15 points), who turned in his worst shooting performance of the regular season (4-of-19), was ice cold from the floor. That didn’t matter either.
Instead, Boston reverted back to its traditional pattern of lazy passing leading to turnovers and poor transition defense leading to easy fast-break points for the Nets in its 109-104 loss, Friday night. Brooklyn outscored the Celtics in transition by a mile.
Celtics Commit 19 Turnovers In Loss Vs. Nets
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was asked about the glaring discrepancy — 32-3 — in fast-break points; where Brooklyn finished the night +29 while the Nets coerced the Celtics into 19 turnovers.
“We’d have to go back and calculate it the way that we do but we got killed in it,” Stevens said after Friday’s loss. “Turnovers are a big part of that from our defensive perspective, and we have to play with better pace up the floor. There’s no question about it.”
While Boston’s 14-point comeback fell short in the final frame, they managed to pull to within four (103-99) with only 30.6 seconds left, however, the Celtics couldn’t string together defensive stops.
“When you’re coming back, you got to be nearly perfect,” Stevens said. “We were there for a few minutes but just generally we have to be tougher with the ball. That’s not a couple of possessions here, a couple of possessions there thing. That’s a thing, and it’s got to improve.”
Tatum (10 rebounds) finished with a game-high 38 points on 14-of-27, including 6-of-12 from deep but was only one of three Celtics players who scored in double figures. Marcus Smart scored 19 points in place of Kemba Walker’s (rest) production while Romeo Langford, who got the nod in place of Kemba, finished scoreless in 19 minutes.
Semi Ojeleye, who started in place of Jaylen Brown (left shoulder bursitis) scored three points in 17 minutes. The Celtics’ offense was insufficient and even on Kyrie’s worst day, and when he isn’t playing alongside two future Hall of Fame players, the C’s failed to capitalize.
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum On Loss Vs. Nets: ‘It’s Very Tough’
“It’s very tough,” Tatum said after the loss. “They made some plays, made some shots, but it obviously feels like, at times, myself included, that we kind of, like, shot ourselves in the foot. Twenty or so turnovers in a game where their best players (didn’t) shoot well, we’re coming back at the end of the game to give ourselves a chance. I know it’s a lot of plays and possessions we wish we had back.”
Nets’ Joe Harris (20) and the Celtics’ old friend Jeff Green combined for 39 points while Bruce Brown (15) and Blake Griffin supplied 28 points off the bench. Boston’s shorthanded version of itself pales in comparison to Brooklyn’s while the fully healthy revamped Celtics remains to be seen.
‘Battle In BK’ is a four-part series chronicling the Celtics and Nets ahead of their matchup on Friday, April 23