Did Fatigue Contribute to Celtics’ Demise in NBA Finals? – NBC Boston

Did fatigue contribute to the Celtics’ downfall in the NBA Finals? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Was a grueling second half of the 2021-22 NBA season coming back to bite the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals?

You won’t hear any excuses from the C’s after their season came to an unceremonious conclusion on Thursday night, but a closer look at the numbers shows that fatigue could definitely have been a factor. Boston’s key players — Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford — have played almost 2,000 more minutes than the Golden State Warriors’ “Big Four” of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.

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The Celtics had an 18-21 record on Jan. 7, which forced them to push hard throughout the second half of the season. The Warriors, meanwhile, started their season 29-9 and rolled through to a playoff spot. From that point on, the Celtics went 47-20 (including playoffs) while the Warriors went 40-26.

The table below shows the total number of minutes played by the four key players on each team during the regular season and playoffs. It’s worth noting that Curry, Thompson and Green each missed the regular season through injury.

regular season

endgames

In total

game equivalent

Jayson Tatum

1,443

983

2,426

51

Jaylen Brown

1,360

920

2,280

48

Markus Smart

1,050

760

1,810

38

Al Horford

1.105

815

1,920

40

buzz

4,958

3,478

8,436

176

Stephen Curry

996

764

1,760

37

Clay Thompson

941

792

1,733

36

Andrew Wiggins

1,260

767

2,027

42

Draymond Green

311

703

1,014

21

buzz

3,508

3,026

6,534

136

Those numbers suggest Golden State had the fresher legs in the series, but Celtics head coach Ime Udoka isn’t convinced physical exhaustion cost them a title chance.

“Every time you play a tough seven-game streak, there’s going to be some of that,” he said after the Game 6 loss. “We had a time-out. I think we came out refreshed and energized throughout the series.

“I’m sure that’s part of it. Not just mentally but physically as well, with Rob (Williams) acting out some of the things he was, going in and out of previous series. It probably had a toll on Al where we had it to overwhelm him at times. Jayson and Jaylen got us out of the way, so did Marcus, all these guys had a few bumps and bruises at some point. Having to fight those two hard-fought seven-game series.

“Probably has something to do with physical exhaustion, but I think everyone goes through some of that in the playoffs. We had enough early on, but I think it was more mental than physical.”

Forsberg: Celtics left to reflect on what could have been

The way the Warriors played the last nine quarters of the series, the Celtics beat themselves. They had 18 turnovers in their Game 5 loss and a whopping 22 in the Game 6 final. Those mental mistakes ultimately made the difference.

All the Cs can do now is hope they don’t dig themselves another hole in 2022-23. A strong start to next season would do a lot to save their stars for another deep playoff run and maybe another shot at the elusive Banner 18.

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