Celtics Turn Game 3 Exasperation Into Motivation for Game 4

The Boston Celtics were understandably frustrated with themselves Thursday night after allowing the Toronto Raptors to steal Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on a miraculous buzzer-beating 3-pointer, which cut Toronto’s series deficit to 2-1. By Friday morning, however, the C’s had turned their exasperation into motivation, which they hope will give them an extra spark heading into Game 4 Saturday night.

Following Friday morning’s practice, Daniel Theis told the media that the team has come to terms with the loss, accepting the fact that there was much more to it than the heartbreaking, game-winning shot.

“Obviously it was painful yesterday to lose a game like this,” said the third-year center. “But we should have never been in that situation. We were up 10 at halftime and we just blew the lead at the beginning of the third. So, it’s all about us. We have to play better, especially at the beginning of the games and in the third quarter so we don’t get in a situation like this to lose the game by the last shot. Obviously it’s motivation because we’re still up 2-1 and we want to bounce back and play our way in the next game.”

Coach Brad Stevens didn’t want the team dwelling on the last-second loss either, noting how well it has performed during similar high-pressure scenarios throughout the season.

“We’ll be better in that situation if that situation comes again, but our guys have been great at the end of games all the way through the last month and were again most of the time last night,” Stevens said. “I told our guys, I don’t want any of them to lose any sleep over it. If anything, let me lose the sleep, and we’ll move on.”

Marcus Smart has already moved on from the loss. He said that it initially left a bad taste in his mouth, especially since it was their first defeat of the postseason, but he’s already eyeing redemption.

“We still haven’t played our best basketball yet, so for us, that’s a good thing,” Smart said of his 6-1 C’s. “Tomorrow should be one of those days where we just go out there and play and get every loose ball that we can, and really just fight our way to try to get a win.”

Producing such an effort is not something that concerns Stevens when it comes to this group, regardless of the result. On Thursday, for example, he felt that his team fought admirably all the way until the end, which is exactly what he expects out of them every game.

“We have a really competitive group. We have a really intrinsically motivated group,” Stevens said. “At the end of the day, in basketball, as long as there’s time on the clock, anything can happen, and we were on the unfortunate end of a tough loss last night. So you lick your wounds, you’re feeling whatever emotions you’re feeling, and then you move on.”

How each individual moves on, differs from person to person.

“For some people, putting a chip on that shoulder is the way to go about it,” Stevens elaborated. “For others, it’s just being able to focus a little bit more on the task at hand in that moment. Everybody’s a little bit different in that.”

“But at the end of the day, I love this team. I love their competitive spirit,” Stevens concluded. “They’re going to bring it. They’re going to give everything they have. And if we get beat, we get beat. Last night wasn’t the way we wanted it to end, but we’re looking forward to getting a chance to compete again, because we like to compete.”

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