C's Working on Adjustments to Increase Efficiency in Game 5
BOSTON – While reviewing film from Game 4 of the Eastern Finals Tuesday morning, one thing stood out clear as day to Celtics coach Brad Stevens: His team has to find a way to be more efficient on the offensive end moving forward against the Cleveland Cavaliers in order to have a chance to advance to the NBA Finals.
Boston had an unusually unsuccessful close-range performance Monday night, missing 15 shots at the rim, en route to a 111-102, series-tying loss. If the C's had just made half of those bunnies, they likely would've seen a different result in the end.
Some of the missed dunks and lay-ups were simply a result of bad luck.
"The missed dunks – those happen,” C's coach Brad Stevens said Tuesday afternoon in regard to the unlucky misses. “The Jaylen [Brown missed dunk] specifically, he’s going to make that 9.9999 out of 10 times."
On the other hand, some of the misses were due to a combination of poor decision-making and an inability to battle with Cleveland’s physicality in the paint.
The good news is that the C's should be able combat the latter two issues.
"On some plays at the rim, [the Cavs] have done a great job of getting to us, contesting us, making it as tough as possible," Stevens via conference call with the media. "And at that time, we either have to finish with authority, or we have to make a kick-out (pass).”
One of the reasons why Boston's offense struggled in this area was because it was generally playing too rushed. The C’s fell behind by as many as 19 points during the first half, which naturally caused them to play with a sense of desperation.
“Sometimes you get that way when you’re behind so much,” said Stevens. “You try to hit home runs and you try to do that kind of stuff. Obviously you’re playing against the best of the best on a great stage and I thought that we did get hurried a little bit."
It's particularly easy to fall into the trap of playing rushed on the road, because the harsh environment can have such a profound impact on the mental game.
Fortunately, the Celtics won’t have to worry about that heading into Game 5, since they will be playing in front of their supportive, TD Garden crowd that has helped propel them to a 9-0 postseason record at home.
Even with that advantage, the Celtics know that there are areas that they will have to fine-tune against a talented, experienced team like Cleveland, which has proven its ability to win on the road in the past.
“We have to be better,” Stevens stated loud and clear. “You could say it until you’re blue in the face: 'Play with poise, find your best shot, continue to move on to the next possession.' But, there are times where everybody succumbs to getting rushed. And we certainly did our fair share of that [Monday] night.”
In order to avoid playing in such a hurried state, the C’s will need to get off to a better start than they did during both Games 3 and 4 in Cleveland. A stronger start to Game 5 at home will build confidence within the young C’s. And poised play should translate to a more efficient offensive effort, which in turn should help give them a chance at snagging a 3-2 series lead.