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Home » Celtics Blow 28-Point Lead in Loss to Nets

Celtics Blow 28-Point Lead in Loss to Nets

04 March 2023, Saturday

Friday's 115-105 loss to the Nets was a missed opportunity for the Celtics to remain connected to the Bucks in the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics held a 28-point lead in the first half but failed to capitalize, as the Nets surged and pulled away in the second half, leading by as many as 16 points. Despite the disheartening loss, the Celtics were able to get off to a hot start and hold the lead for a good portion of the game. Ultimately, their shot selection suffered as the Nets capitalized on their momentum.

A comparison of the Celtics' worse performances this year might put their Friday game between the 150-117 defeat to the Thunder and the early-season loss to the Bulls, where Chicago came from 19 points down to take it by 18.

However, the Celtics then went on to easily win their next contest against the Mavericks, trouncing them on the road by close to 30. It was a strong statement that the Celtics recognized how absurd it was that they allowed a lottery team, who didn't even have their leading scorer, to rack up 150 points against them.

In the locker room after the game, a reporter asked Tatum what emotion the Celtics were experiencing. Possible answers included "anger" and "disbelief".

Joe Mazzulla commented, “To me, the area of growth and the opportunity comes in making sure it doesn’t happen again if we’re in that situation again.”

Disbelief? No, that wasn't the feeling following their loss. "They played better than we did and usually you lose," said Jayson Tatum with a chuckle. There wasn't any anger either; the NBA season is so packed with games that it's hard to stay mad after a single loss. "It is what it is, essentially," said Tatum.

The problem isn't that players are soft, or that teams hire medical professionals to keep them healthy. It's that there are 82 games in a season, and if load management is a concern, that number needs to shrink. Even when players do play, one bad game isn't worth getting worked up over.

Joe Mazzulla believes that the 3-point rate is extremely important in the game of basketball due to the shot selection that is available, as well as its ability to create runs. He is emphasizing the need for the Celtics to take a lot of 3-pointers.

On Friday, the Nets got off 44 3-point field-goal attempts while the Celtics only had 30. Despite the two teams shooting the same percentage from the field (31%), the Nets managed to gain an 18-point advantage via the 3-point line. According to Mazzulla, this is no surprise considering the 24-point lead they had at halftime. He believes that with today’s NBA offenses, this lead means almost nothing.

According to Mazzulla, the major factor in the Celtics' downfall in the second half was their lack of three-point shots; they only made two, while Brooklyn took 26 free throws and secured 13 offensive rebounds. Mazzulla went on to point out that the Nets' switching defense also contributed to the Celtics' struggles. Evidently, Mazzulla's offensive strategy stresses the importance of generating as many threes as possible.

I felt uneasiness at the start of the game due to the fact that my team was shooting less threes compared to the opponent. Despite that, we were still managing to score from layups, however I knew that the match would soon change in favour of the opposing side. As they were analytically sound, their shooting of threes, as well as their offensive rebounds and ball possession, would eventually outpace us if we didn't up our game in these departments.

In a worrying moment, Robert Williams had to leave the game in the middle of the second half and went to the locker room. Later, the Celtics declared that Williams experienced hamstring tightness.

Jaylen Brown, who ended up with 35 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals, with a shooting 15-for-27 from the field and 3-for-8 from 3-point range, said that the Celtics had been careless with the game, with 19 turnovers.

“Anytime you got that many, that’s a reflection of being a little careless with the ball,” Brown stated. “They outshot us, and we should have played through until the end, but we did not.”

Mikal Bridges put on a show against the Celtics on Friday night, and it was something that Nets fans won't soon forget. The 6-7 Bridges finished with 38 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists on a stellar 13-for-22 from the field, with 4-for-6 shooting from three-point range. It was just his third time ever scoring more than 30 points in a game, but with the Nets since being traded, he has now reached that mark three times in just six games.

The Nets have struggled since the trade deadline, losing seven of their last 10 games, but Bridges' performance offers an exciting glimpse into what the team can be in the future. His offensive skills have been on full display and his commitment to defense, as well as his availability, is something to be admired. When asked how it felt to be scoring so much, Bridges hinted that it's only the beginning.

Bridges noted that the timing of his trade to the Boston Celtics was ideal, as he was already in a great rhythm and had been gaining confidence while in Phoenix.

"Even in Phoenix, I wasn't tripping on my role at all," he said. "I was just continuing to get better. When I got traded, it was kind of at the right time, because when everyone was out in Phoenix, I had to take up another role offensively and be more aggressive. By the time I got traded, I was just in this great rhythm and I was confident."

The Celtics will look to bounce back against the Knicks on Sunday, following their recent loss at Madison Square Garden and their defeat on Friday.
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