Celtics showing fatigue late in NBA Finals – ProBasketballTalk

BOSTON- Warriors forward Draymond Green is playing in his sixth NBA Finals. Green coined the term “82-player vs. 16-player player”. He certainly understands what it takes to make the arduous journey to this point.

“You don’t allow yourself to think about tiredness or to feel tired,” Green said. “You kind of feel that after the show is over. When you’re in the thick of it, you don’t have time to think about it. There is enough to think about within a series.”

Celtics coach Ime Udoka used the word “fatigue” seven times in his press conference after losing Game 5. Six times in response to questions not directly related to the topic!

It was a startling admission. Coaches rarely talk about fatigue at this point of the year. Especially not a coach who is as intolerant of excuses as Udoka.

But Boston looked tired on Monday.

None more so than Jayson Tatum, who played 45 of 47 minutes before garbage time but went 8-1 in the last 18 minutes. However, don’t expect he’ll be resting much more tonight in Game 6 when he’s eliminated.

“That’s what downtime is for,” Tatum said. “…I can rest all summer.

“It’s just mental. You have to fight your way through it. I’m not the only person who’s tired or dealing with injuries or whatever. The last two teams are standing.

But no one has borne a burden like Tatum to get this far.

By leading the Celtics to seven second-round wins over the Bucks and Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, Tatum has played 3,677 minutes between the regular season and the playoffs — significantly more than anyone this season:

Indeed, Tatum – who also played for Team USA at the Tokyo Olympics last summer – is carrying a burden almost unmatched in years.

At the 2014 Finals, the Spurs – well ahead of the corner at rest – beat the worn-out Heat and ushered in this current era of load management. Since then, only LeBron James 2017-18 (when he had to work so hard to carry the Cavaliers) and Draymond Green 2015-16 (when the Warriors were chasing and notched a record 73 wins) have played more than Tatum in a single season. And Tatum should be getting past Green tonight.

Here are the players with the most minutes, regular season and playoffs, in a season since 2014-15;

As Boston appears to be slowing down, Golden State’s most-used player – Andrew Wiggins – sprints to the finish.

“I feel great,” Wiggins said.

By primarily defending Tatum, Wiggins has helped bolster the warriors’ steadfast defenses. Wiggins isn’t doing this alone, of course. Under Green’s leadership, Golden State has excelled in aid and rotation.

The obvious solution for the Celtics: play faster and encounter set defenses less often. But that’s easier said than done, especially when you’re already exhausted.

Boston can’t catch his breath at the other end either. The Warriors’ attacking movement requires defense to keep up, and nobody pressures defenders like Stephen Curry. Seemingly tireless, Curry runs around screens and everywhere in between (allowing him to help out even with bad shots).

At their best, the Celtics looked taller and more athletic than Golden State. Fatigue neutralizes these benefits. Now older warriors actually look sprightly.

To extend that streak, let alone win, Boston will need to muster energy not shown late in Game 5. Unfortunately for the Celtics, this is the type of problem that usually gets worse throughout the game.

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