Boston Celtics

  • The Celtics went up 1-0, then 2-1, in the 2022 NBA Finals on the strength of their physical advantage over the Warriors. They’ve now lost consecutive games to Golden State and are down 3-2, and it’s due to problems that are better described as mental.

    Golden State rode a hot fourth-quarter start to victory in Game 5 of the finals on Monday night, scoring 10 straight points as the Celtics missed five straight shots in the first four minutes of the quarter. And that was that. Jayson Tatum, Derrick White, Marcus Smart, and Jaylen Brown all missed on early looks in the final frame, and they weren’t all heavily contested, either.

    Brown had said in prior losses that the Celtics got “sped up” in crunch-time situations late in the game. He continued to express a similar sentiment after Game 5, that he and the Celtics need to improve in areas associated with mental toughness. Those will need to be at a high level in order to execute late in the biggest games of the season and their careers.

    “Just some patience, a little bit more perseverance,” Brown said. “I feel like we had some good looks, some good opportunities. It didn’t go down. I felt like I had some good looks. I missed a lot of shots tonight.

    “Just patience and perseverance. We didn’t have that tonight. But we’re going to need to have it for next game.”

  • Zolak & Bertrand | Celtics-Warriors Game 5 Reactions

    (Click here to subscribe to Zolak & Bertrand.)

  • Brown shot just 5-of-18 from the field in Monday’s loss, scoring just four of his 18 points in the first half. For the game, he went 0-of-5 from three-point range. One bright spot for Brown was his 8-of-10 rate on free throws, which looks elite compared to the rest of the team combined from the line (13-of-21, 61.9 percent).

    Poor free-throw shooting is just one example of mental mistakes hurting the Celtics in Game 5. Turnovers became an issue once again. Multiple Celtics credited the Warriors defense with forcing them out of their favorite spots to shoot for much of the game.

    Jayson Tatum was able to overcome the early adversity and finish with 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Brown could never catch up in the efficiency department. But neither of them stepped up in the fourth quarter of Game 5, combining to go 2-of-9 from the field for just 10 points.

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - JUNE 13: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics loses control of the ball against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 13, 2022 in San Francisco, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 13: Jaylen Brown #7 of the Boston Celtics loses control of the ball against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during the second quarter in Game Five of the 2022 NBA Finals at Chase Center on June 13, 2022 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

    Neither did Stephen Curry for the Warriors. But Andrew Wiggins emerged as the hero for Golden State, with 10 fourth-quarter points, plus six for Klay Thompson on two early threes that propelled them to a lead they would not relinquish.

  • It’s going to take that kind of effort from Brown and Tatum late in these games, certainly a big step up from what they’ve produced over the last two. It’s possible that the Warriors, who will try to win their fourth NBA championship in eight seasons in Game 6 on Thursday night in Boston, are simply more ready for this stage and these moments and that’s what will make the difference.

    Because the Celtics still do have a size and athleticism advantage over the Warriors. The rest of the series will come down to whether they can sharpen themselves mentally, which starts with cleaning up the missed free throws and turnovers, but ends with executing in the biggest moments at the end of games.

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - JUNE 10: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors saves the ball defended by Jaylen Brown #7 and Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter during Game Four of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 10, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Golden State Warriors won 107-97. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – JUNE 10: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors saves the ball defended by Jaylen Brown #7 and Marcus Smart #36 of the Boston Celtics in the fourth quarter during Game Four of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on June 10, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Golden State Warriors won 107-97. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    It’s a lot to ask, but it’s necessary to win at this time of year. Starting in Game 6, we’ll see how ready Tatum and Brown are to do what it takes.

    “It’s the NBA Finals. Credit to Golden State. They made it tough us on us, the intensity level,” Brown said. “We dropped the ball execution-wise. Offensively, we got to be better. I got to be better. I’m looking forward to it next game.”

  • Toucher and Rich | Cedric Maxwell’s New Ad/Dr. Kendrick Perkins

    (Click here to subscribe to Toucher and Rich.)

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.