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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Celtics Ought to Sit Starters Till Playoffs After Ugly Loss Vs. Knicks

BOSTON — The Celtics (clearly) don’t intend to place their finest foot ahead coming into the NBA Playoffs, and it grew to become abundantly clear throughout Thursday evening’s 118-109 loss to the Knicks at TD Backyard.

Sufficient is sufficient.

Sure, Boston’s already clinched the No. 1 seed within the Japanese Convention. Sure, the group’s already secured its home-court playoff benefit, and sure, the Celtics have validated themselves as the high canine this season — which received’t change, no matter how the ultimate two matchups unfold. However all of that begs the query: does any of that purchase Boston the leeway to take a knee and run out the clock till the playoffs formally start?

“I didn’t like the trouble degree within the first half,” Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla stated when reflecting on Boston’s 69-48 halftime deficit.

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Whereas the Celtics have earned the freedom of not being impacted by the results of the ultimate few weeks of the common season, that’s not the truth of the remainder of the convention. Subsequently, it’s simple to interpret why groups just like the Knicks, whereas shorthanded, would refuse to bow to anybody within the league. Boston discovered one more lesson the arduous method in enjoying all the way down to a New York group that’s now improved to 16-19 with out three-time All-Star ahead Julius Randle. What’s growingly obscure is why the Celtics out of the blue succumbed to dangerous habits understanding they translated to final season’s playoff run and held them again from a second straight journey to the NBA Finals.

If the beginning 5, the horse that Boston’s ridden towards its highest win whole for the reason that 2007-08 finals-winning squad, sees no motive to worth the ultimate few matchups, then drive worth. Mazzulla’s reached the purpose the place the Celtics shouldn’t be compelled to take a seat the starters after falling in double figures to the Knicks, and as a substitute relaxation Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Vacation and Derrick White.

That’ll open the door for Xavier Tillman Sr. to get beginning minutes on the 5, and for Jaden Springer — who’s made 14 appearances off the bench — to play alongside Payton Pritchard. That’s worth in video games deemed meaningless in opposition to the Hornets and Wizards.

When requested what the Celtics may take away from shedding for the primary time in 5 matchups with the Knicks, a group Boston may face within the playoffs, Mazzulla saved his response brief, candy and to the purpose.

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“Rebounding,” Mazzulla replied.

The Celtics had been torn to bits on the glass, out-rebounded, 52-36, answerable for additionally coughing up 56 factors within the paint to New York. It grew to become painful for a pact TD Backyard crowd to take a seat again and watch Boston giftwrap the Knicks a freebie with a totally wholesome beginning 5 on the ground.

Boston’s always-itchy 3-point set off unsurprisingly wasn’t of any assist as soon as desperation arose. The Celtics shot simply 16-of-42 from three, and it wasn’t till Mazzulla yanked the beginning 5 within the closing 47.1 seconds of the third quarter, that the competition grew to become considerably attention-grabbing.

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Brown, who performed 29 minutes and 15 scored factors, was held to simply two rebounds. Boston’s starters had been restricted to 21 rebounds and dedicated 9 turnovers collectively.

“It’s totally different in case you lose off X’s and O’s or no matter, however groups simply (getting) 21 pictures off the glass, and that’s rebounding. I solely had one rebound tonight,” Brown defined. “We simply gotta rebound. We gotta play bodily, extra powerful and we gotta get the job performed. We simply gotta nip that within the bud. We’re gonna have some powerful practices and we’re gonna be prepared.”

Momentum is vital when heading into the playoffs.

Final season, the No. 8 seed Warmth was seen as a first-round bounce after barely sneaking in. Nevertheless, within the snap of a finger, Miami discovered itself within the convention finals. The Celtics drew the brief finish of that seven-game battle, however to repeat that destiny after utilizing the ultimate week of the common season as meaningless cardio could be a considerably worse look.

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There’s releasing some slight stress from the fuel and there’s blatantly mailing within the third-to-final sport of the season. Does Mazzzulla’s beginning 5 really want a refresher course of that distinction in April?

“It’s not who we’re. We bought booed on the finish for a motive,” Porzingis stated, per NBC Sports activities Boston. “This isn’t the group that our followers love. This wasn’t that show, however finest imagine we’re gonna present up when we have to.”

The Celtics have time however must resolve who they’ll be coming into the playoffs. Are they content material with 60-plus wins, top-tier statistical standings and glowing weekly energy rankings? Or… is Boston hungry for getting one thing significant performed and giving the 2008 championship banner one other companion within the rafters?

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