Argue all you want about cause and effect, but the Celtics have been either one step forward and one step back or vice versa all season.
It’s hard to say at times, but the fact remains that even if they lost momentum again in their Game 4 loss to Golden State on Friday night, they remain two wins away from a record 18th NBA title.
But now they’ll have to take to the streets once again to save themselves in a Game 5 at the Chase Center Monday night.
“Just be who we are. That’s all we can do,” said Marcus Smart. “Control what we can control. Tonight is over. We need to turn around and get back to it right away on Monday. That’s how it was for us all year. We take a loss and recover. This is us. We will continue to be. It’s a very important game on Monday.”
But first, the Celtics need to settle their turnover issue once and for all. Jayson Tatum had another tough night on offense, requiring 23 shots to have 23 points while also going 1-5 in the fourth quarter. He led the turnover charge with six of the Celtics’ 19 giveaways that converted the Warriors to 19 points.
The Celtics are now 13-2 in the postseason when the opponent scores 18 points or less from their errors and 1-6 when the other team scores 19 or more points.
And Game 4 was one of those nights, in part because they returned to their worst iso-heavy tendencies, particularly in a 33.3% fourth quarter where they shot 2-for-9 in the final 7:31. Golden State, backed by the power of Steph Curry and a huge 3-pointer from Klay Thompson, finished the game on a 21-6 run.
In times like these, the Celtics have one word in common with the US economy – stagnation.
“Everyone just stood around and watched who had the ball, no player movement, no ball movement,” said Derrick White. “We just have to do a better job going down the track. I mean, that’s exactly the difference in the game.”
With that, Smart attempted the most 3-points (nine) of any Celtics — a good sign the ball wasn’t moving — fulfilling the Warriors’ greatest wish. Smart’s prolific photography was fueled by coverage from Golden State.
Contrast this with Tatum’s inability to find a consistent groove in the finale. Despite all the encouragement from his teammates, the Celtics star has yet to uncork a great Finals performance.
“We all are,” Smart said of the ongoing dialogue. “We just keep letting him know keep going. This isn’t the first time you’ve faced a crisis. Won’t be the last time. You have to find out. We trust you, we believe in you.
“This is what you were made for,” said the point guard. “Jayson has to find out. We must help him well. But you know, he’s the player he is, those are the moments where he needs to come alive and figure it out. He will. We don’t know when that will be, but we are sure it will happen soon, we are prepared for it and we are here to support it.”