The Boston Celtics are in trouble, and they are falling back into the bad habits from last season.
Boston employed terrible defense and poor late-game execution in a 120-117 overtime loss to the Knicks on Thursday night. The Celtics are now in the midst of their second three-game losing streak of the season, but they remain number one in the Eastern Conference.
The Cs started the game with a solid first quarter that featured excellent ball movement and superb play from Jayson Tatum, who was named an All-Star starter for the second year in a row. Tatum did not miss a shot in the first quarter, and the Celtics held a 15-point lead.
Following the first quarter, the Celtics reverted to old habits of playing poor defense and having mental lapses. The Boston Celtics gave up 32 points in the second quarter and 33 points in the third quarter, which is way too high for them. They also had 13 turnovers that led to 22 Knicks points.
The Boston Celtics All-Star duo was outdueled
After a strong first quarter, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were outdueled by Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. The Knicks duo combined for 66 points as Randle had an impressive 37 and Brunson added 29. The duo took over the game and created opportunities for their teammates. Meanwhile, the Jays had poor shooting nights and were downright terrible in the clutch. Although Tatum finished with 35 points, he shot an abysmal 2/7 from the 3-point line, and he missed the potential game-winning shot in the fourth quarter.
The poor clutch plays from Tatum have been a problem this season, and it should be a concern for Cs fans moving forward. On the other hand, Brown was just as bad because even though he added 22 points, he missed two key free throws that would have given Boston the lead in the final seconds of overtime. The poor plays of the Jays need to change if the Celtics are going to seriously challenge for Banner 18.
The Boston Celtics need to get their act together
The Celtics are falling asleep the last couple of weeks, and teams are taking full advantage of it. Turnover problems and the poor play in the clutch are coming at a bad time for Boston. The lead for the number one seed is shrinking for the Celtics, as they now only have a 2.5-game lead over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Boston also a bad team in overtime this season — this loss drops them to 2-4 in games that go to overtime. If the Celtics want to make a deep run this postseason, they have to keep their mental focus for a full 48 minutes or 53 if needed.
The Celtics will look to get back on track when they host Lebron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday night primetime.