Despite having the game in their control for most of the first half, the Celtics fell to the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime Monday night 132-126. Boston jumped out to an early lead, but was outscored 72-61 over the final 29 minutes.
Memphis took the game to the Celtics at the rim, and Boston struggled to respond. The Grizzlies had scored an NBA-best 55.4 points per game in the paint entering Monday night, but dropped 80 on the Celtics from the shaded area.
It was a tough game for the Celtics even before tip-off. Jayson Tatum was ruled out just a few hours before the game due to illness. Brad Stevens said during his postgame media availability that Tatum felt “dizzy” and described the issue as “general illness.”
A strong start from the Celtics had them up 13-4 just three minutes in, leading to an early Memphis timeout. Behind nine first-quarter points from Marcus Smart, the C’s led 30-24 after one.
Memphis opened the second quarter with a 14-6 run, and briefly took the lead. They’d go on to trade the lead with the Celtics eight times in a back-and-forth quarter, before a 12-4 run from Boston heading into the break. Through 24 minutes, the C’s led 65-60.
Early in the third, Memphis put a run together again and extended their lead to nine points. Boston got back within two multiple times, but couldn’t regain an advantage in the frame. Heading into the fourth, it was 94-86 Memphis.
Slowly, Boston chipped away at the Memphis lead. There were a few moments late in the game where they appeared to slip up, but a Daniel Theis alley-oop dunk finally tied the game with seven seconds left to play. Ja Morant would miss a last second three pointer, sending the game to overtime.
THEIS. TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/28UydCVdLl— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 23, 2021
The Celtics scored the first two points of overtime, but Memphis responded with seven straight, and never looked back.
With Tatum out, Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 27 points on 11-of-24 shooting. He also had nine rebounds and five assists. Jeff Teague, starting in place of Kemba Walker (back-to-back maintenance) put up a season high 26 points, with six assists. Robert Williams was once again a presence off the bench, he scored 17 points and did his best to control the issues in the paint with four blocks.
The loss is the Celtics’ fourth in their last five games, and fifth in their seven games since the All-Star break. Their record now stands at 21-22 (8-15 on the road), which puts them in eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics’ road trip continues on Wednesday, with the first of back-to-back games against the Bucks. That one is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.