C's View Brooklyn Loss as a Blip Amidst Strong Stretch
The Boston Celtics hadn’t been thoroughly outplayed by an opponent for more than three weeks until Wednesday night when the first-place Brooklyn Nets came to town and handed them a 123-104 loss at TD Garden.
Normally, a defeat of such proportions would feel discouraging; however, after putting forth eight wins and three competitive losses over their previous 11 matchups, this felt like more of an anomaly to the Celtics.
“Not discouraging at all,” Jaylen Brown said of the loss without an ounce of hesitation in his voice. “We have been playing good basketball, and we’ve got to continue to play good basketball.”
This was a night when everything was clicking for Brooklyn’s offense, while Boston’s offense struggled to get going. The Nets shot 50.6 percent from the field, including 40.0 percent from deep, while the Celtics shot 37.4 percent from the field, including 22.9 percent from deep.
As a result, the Celtics fell into a 29-point hole midway through the third quarter before their offense finally came alive.
“Offensively, I felt we weren't as sharp as we could have been early,” said head coach Ime Udoka. “But the shots we did get that were wide open, the penetration was great, Jayson was finding guys, getting to the basket and we just let it affect us defensively by our missed shots early.”
The Celtics wound up going on a run late in the third quarter and into the final frame, during which they cut their deficit from 29 points down to 12. Marcus Smart led the way with 20 points, eight assists, two steals.
“I like the way we fought back,” said Udoka. “We junked it up a little bit. We were a shot away from a 10-point game midway through the fourth quarter, but can't let the offense affect our defense. We've talked about being constant on that end and being consistent there and relying on that when shots do not fall, and I think that affected us in the wrong way tonight.”
Such mental slippages are bound to happen over the course of an NBA season, and this marked the first time in a while that the Celtics didn’t display consistent energy throughout the majority of a game.
“We just have to have the mindset to come out and play basketball regardless of what happens on both sides of the ball,” said Brown, who logged 13 points, five rebounds, and two steals in his second game back from a hamstring strain. “I think we let some makes and misses dictate how we were going to play, and it showed. We have to be more consistent on both sides and continue to raise our energy level.”
Boston’s energy level had been rising over the previous three-plus weeks, so Brown is hopeful that the team will get back to that trend. The C’s will have a chance to redeem themselves during their upcoming two-game road trip, which will feature stops in San Antonio Friday night and Toronto Sunday night.
“We can’t let this loss dictate the rest of the next four, five, six, seven games,” Brown said. “We have to bounce back. That’s what good teams do. So we have to come back, get ready to play in San Antonio, communicate a little more, set the tone defensively, and be ready to click on all cylinders.”