Missed Chances Kill Celtics in Heartbreaking Loss to Golden State

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Never in my life have I seen a team blow so many chances and do everything they could not to win a game as I saw in the Celtics’ 115-111 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.

Yes, the Warriors are really good. And, sure, some people may look at the fact the team only lost by four as a “good” thing. Some may also say the team was coming off a five-game winning streak, which started with a sound victory against No. 1 seed Toronto 11 days ago. But let’s also not forget that three of those wins came against some of the very worst teams in the league (Memphis, Atlanta, and Cleveland).

Back to Saturday night. The Celtics were able to keep it pretty close the whole contest, save for a nice little run by Golden State in the second quarter, helping the Warriors build a nine-point lead at one point. The Celtics battled back, however, and cut the deficit to only two at the half.

From there on out, it was a battle. The Warriors did get the lead back up to six by the end of the third, after Jayson Tatum almost single-handedly kept the C’s alive throughout the quarter with 14 points in those 12 minutes. Then it was a fight to the finish in a neck-and-neck fourth quarter, with Al Horford and Kyrie Irving leading the way. (And I also can’t forget to mention the clutch three-pointer that Marcus Smart nailed in Draymond Green’s eyeball to tie the game at 111. Seriously, that was a sick shot.)

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Tatum stepped up big when it counted last night.

Yet when you really look at how that fourth quarter went down, the Celtics simply gave the game away. Plain and simple. It actually physically hurt to watch.

First, there’s the fact that they committed SIX turnovers in the quarter, and finished the game with a grand total of 14  – with nine (!) coming from Kyrie and Big Al alone. To be fair, Golden State committed 14 turnovers on Saturday night as well, and the total was not at all far off from the Celtics’ turnover-per-game mark of 13.4, which is actually the fourth-best in the whole league. But, as they say, timing is everything in life, and six giveaways in the final eight minutes are not going to do you any favors. Period.

It’s even worse when you consider that Golden State made just five shots from the floor in the fourth quarter, for a total of 11 points. However, they were able to sink 14 points at the line – aided by some horrendously soft calls from the officials, yes – and the Celtics even out-rebounded the Warriors 15-13 over the game’s final frame.

But the final half-minute of action tells the whole story. Just look at this cluster-eff of events that happened in the game’s final moments: with Golden State up just two points and 32 seconds left, Durant tries to throw the game away (literally) with a horrible pass that sailed out of bounds; the Celtics get the ball and Kyrie misses a two-pointer; Draymond Green then tries to grab the rebound and muffs it out of bounds; Celtics get the ball back AGAIN and Marcus Morris misses a three; Green gets the rebound again, is immediately fouled by Horford, and MISSES BOTH FREE THROWS; but, of course, the ball is rebounded by Steph Curry, he’s fouled by Kyrie, hits both shots at the line, and the game was pretty much over.

WOOF! Just brutal.

While the team did prove that they still have the firepower to hang with the league’s best, it was an awful way to end the game. And the team still sits fifth in the Eastern Conference, barely making up any ground on the four teams ahead of them, even with their five other victories over the past week. Besides two respective matchups against Charlotte and Oklahoma City, the Celtics have a beatable slate of opponents coming up over the next two weeks. Hopefully they can bounce back quickly from this one.

A few more quick notes on the Green:

  • After being arguably the Celtics’ best player besides Kyrie over the first half of the season, Marcus Morris is starting to come back to down to Earth a little bit, averaging just 9.5 points over the team’s last seven contests. After failing to score in double-figures just once from Thanksgiving through the first week in January, Morris has surpassed 10 points in just four-of-the-last-nine games.
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Still love ya, man, but what happened?

  • Terry Rozier is also really struggling to find his place on this squad. It’s been up and down all year long for the 24-year-old, with much of that likely having to do with the inconsistent minutes he’s been given, seeing well over 30 minutes of play some nights and just barely over 15-18 in others. Also, it has been U-G-L-Y for him over the past two weeks, as he is shooting an abysmal 18 percent from the floor (YUCK!) over the past nine games. He is a guy who needs a ton of volume to be successful, and he just ain’t gonna get it here. Danny, I think it’s time to move the young guard and at least get something for him before he becomes a restricted free agent this summer. (Remember, in the NBA, if a team fails to match an offer sheet, the other team is NOT required to provide any compensation.)
  • The same goes for Gordon Hayward. One of the team’s all-time biggest free-agent acquisitions is simply not living up to the hype. He was absolutely invisible against Golden State, going 0-for-5 from the floor in 22 minutes of action. And besides two 18-point games this month, he’s failed to crack double-digits in six-of-his-last-eight games. Maybe he’s still healing. Or maybe he’s just not used to playing on such a loaded squad. Regardless, he’s been a major bummer.
  • On a good note, Marcus Smart may finally be developing a three-point shot! I already mentioned the huge one he hit on Saturday night, and the defensive intensity and grit-and-balls attitude he brings to the table every night has long been well-known. Most people probably aren’t aware that he is shooting 41 percent from deep since Thanksgiving, even though he is at just 36.3 percent for the season overall. If he keeps trending in this direction, Smart could become the true X-factor on this team.
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Yeah, I see you, Marcus!

  • Things have taken a bit of a turn for our boy Robert Williams – aka the “Time Lord.” After playing in only six games since Christmas, he was officially sent back down to the G-League just three days ago. But we know it’s only temporary, young fella! You’ll be back up in no time, and we’ll be waiting with baited breath.

So there’s your quick little Celtics round-up after Saturday night’s heartbreaker. Be sure to keep checking in with The 300s for all your news on the Green all season long.

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