In a season that can’t end fast enough, the Boston Celtics suffered another unbelievable loss, this time at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers by a score of 102-94. This game adds to the laundry list of ugly games from this Celtics team, who seem like they just can’t wait for the season to come to a close. With Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart joining Jaylen Brown and Rob Williams on the injury report, Jayson Tatum was left to do the heavy lifting, and he led the way for Boston with 29 points. The Cavs meanwhile got a vintage performance from Kevin Love, who poured in 30 points, while Colin Sexton dropped 28 to go along with it.
The first half of this game was one of the ugliest halves of basketball in the NBA this season. Neither team seemed they had any desire to score the basketball, and it led to some long stretches without any scoring from both sides. The Celtics only managed a paltry 17 points in the first quarter, which is just disgraceful against a Cavaliers team that has one of the worst defenses in the league. The game limped into halftime with the score being set at 42-39, with Cleveland holding the lead.
It finally seemed like the Celtics had taken the lid off the basket, as they immediately came out took the lead in the third, before going back and forth with Cleveland for most of the quarter. Jayson Tatum led the way with nine points in the frame, and the Celtics finally started knocking down some of their threes. By the end of the third, the Celtics had a two point lead, and seemed set to lock the game down heading into the fourth quarter.
And then the fourth quarter actually happened, and the Celtics showed absolutely no desire to pull out a win. They left the Cavs shooters wide open and had no offense, leading to a 20-4 run for Cleveland that basically handed them the game. Typically when you ignore players and let them shoot, they get hot, and that’s exactly what happened here. The Cavs snapped their 11 game losing streak in the process, as the Celtics waltzed towards another embarrassing defeat at the hands of a vastly inferior opponent.
For all the lows that the Celtics have gone through this season, this feels like the worst of them all. The Cavs are openly tanking at this point, and have been getting demolished by teams for most of the second half of the season. And yet once they run into the Celtics, all those woes go away because Boston somehow finds a way to play worse then them.
Defensively, this has to be the laziest defensive team coached by Brad Stevens. Cleveland’s incompetency led to them shooting 1/14 from behind the arc in the first half, but the Celtics got lazy, left them open, and guys like Kevin Love caught fire and ended up killing the Celtics. They don’t contest shooters with enough regularity to prevent them from getting hot, and once they realize they have found their shot, it’s too late. It’s ultimately very disappointing for a team that was supposed to be a contender just throw away games with such regularity.
Offensively, it’s the same old thing. Too many ridiculous jumpshots, too few drives to the hoop. The lack of ball movement on this team is just ridiculous, and it’s no wonder their offense stalls for long periods of time. If they passed and drove more often, they could easily dismantle the Cavs. But instead they just run isolation plays that result in clanks off the rim, which unfortunately doesn’t win you any games. As a result, the laziness on defense gets transferred to offense, and we find a team that has no fight in them.
The Celtics are almost guaranteed the 7 seed at this point, and it wouldn’t really be a surprise to see them lose out in the play-in tournament if they keep up their recent play. They have a couple of days now to rest up before a season-ending back-to-back set, with the first game coming against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Minnesota, like Cleveland, is one of the worst teams in the league, a team the Celtics should comfortably beat. But, as this Celtics team has shown us time and again this season, we should expect the worst when it comes to this team.
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