Boston Celtics let lead slip away, suffer tough loss to the Sacramento Kings

In what has started to become a common theme as of late for the Boston Celtics, they found themselves trailing late in the game with either a chance to tie or win the game. The Celtics were down by 3 with Grant Williams at the line for the Celtics. After missing the first shot, Williams purposely missed the second, but was able to come away with the rebound himself. The ball found it’s way back out to Jayson Tatum, who had a chance to hit a difficult corner three to tie the game, but wasn’t able to convert.

The Celtics continue to come up just short in their recent losses, as they’ve had a shot to tie or win in their last three losses, but have missed all three. This one may be the most frustrating of them all, as the Celtics led throughout the majority of the contest, only to watch De’Aaron Fox and Harrison Barnes get hot in the fourth and change the tide of the game. The Celtics allowed the Kings to stick around way too long last night, and it came back to bite them.

Despite leading for a majority of the contest, the Celtics labored through much of the night. Tatum and Jaylen Brown both had over 20 points, but struggled with their efficiency throughout the game. Tatum in particular struggled mightily from behind the arc, hitting only two of his ten three point attempts. For much of the game, Tatum seemed to be settling for the 3 point shot, despite having success getting to the rim. Brown on the other hand struggled to consistently find the bottom of the bucket from all over the court.

The defensive play of the Celtics continues to be a concern. The effort just doesn’t seem like it’s there all the time, and that gives other teams way too many easy points. Defensive integrity has always been a key to coach Brad Stevens teams, but this team just can’t seem to figure it out. Stevens has even experimented with zone defensive schemes to try to get something going on defense, but it hasn’t produced much results.

One positive on the night was the play of the Celtics bigs. After getting setback by the COVID outbreak among the team, the unit finally appears to be settling into their respective roles. Tristan Thompson in particular tormented the Kings last night, as he had a quiet double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Daniel Theis chipped in 11 points himself, and Rob Williams hit all four of his shots off the bench. The Kings may not have the most threatening bigs, but this was a good performance from the Celtics bigs, and hopefully they can keep it up.

Unfortunately, not much else went right for the Celtics. With Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, and Payton Pritchard all out, the Celtics were severely shorthanded at the guard position. This meant more minutes for Jeff Teague and Tremont Waters, and they didn’t do much to ease the concerns about the Celtics guard depth. Both logged 23 minutes on the night, and combined to hit only 2 shots between them. While Waters struggles are understandable, Teague’s struggles are concerning. He was brought in to be a steadying presence off the bench, but he was easily outperformed by Payton Pritchard when he was healthy.

Fortunately for the C’s, it seems like Pritchard is nearing a return, and his return would be a welcome sight for a struggling Celtics team heading into a tough matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday night. The Celtics will have a day off after a grueling back-to-back on the West Coast, and they will look to regroup before this big matchup. The Celtics will have Kemba Walker back in this one, and Pritchard’s return could certainly be another big addition for the Celtics.

The Clippers have the second best record in the league at 17-6, and the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have seemingly overcome their struggles they faced in the bubble last season. However, Tatum and Brown matchup well with these two, and Tatum has put up some memorable performances in recent memory against the Clippers. As usual, the question isn’t whether Tatum and Brown will show up, but whether their supporting cast will. This would be a great time for Kemba Walker to have a big game, as the Celtics will almost certainly need someone else to step up if they want to come out of this game with a victory.

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