If you’re disappointed, you should be. The Celtics had a 2-1 series lead in the NBA Finals and led by five points with 7:32 in the fourth quarter of Game 4, when things unraveled at the speed of light. From that point forward, over the span of slightly more than two games, the Celtics were outscored by 38 points and never really recovered.
As far as fractures go, it was a fast break.
What happens next? Good question. Maybe, as Draymond Green told Celtics players after Game 6 last night. “Y’all will be back.” That certainly seems logical. The Celtics are still young and still improving – “As you can see, there’s still a lot of growing for all of us,” said veteran Al Horford – though head coach Ime Udoka generally believes what many of you do.
They missed a fabulous opportunity.
“Don’t feel like we didn’t have enough,” Udoka said. “Just felt like we played probably our worst series of these playoffs. If we play up to the standard of Milwaukee or the Miami series, it’s obviously a different ballgame, especially in Game 4 and 5 when we struggled in the fourth quarter.”
Of course, the Celtics didn’t. As such, there is much soul-searching and examination to do now – and during an especially short off-season – in the wake of a heartbreaking defeat. The playoffs, in every sport, are pass-fail. And only one team ultimately gets by.
The Finals, by the numbers:
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 16: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics reacts against the Golden State Warriors during the fourth quarter in Game Six of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 16, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
Jayson Tatum’s free-throw percentage in the final three games. That’s right, free-throw percentage. Tatum’s substandard play was obviously one of the biggest reasons – if not the biggest – for the Celtics’ demise, particularly when it came to taking care of the basketball. He had 15 turnovers in the final three games. And oh, he never made it to the line at all in Game 6.