The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Boston Celtics in Boston 119-117. The loss marks the first home playoff loss at TD Garden since losing the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors. The toughest pill to swallow for Celtics fans is that they led by 13 with under six minutes to go. The defense began to crumble in the later stages allowing Trae Young to dominate the game. Jaylen Brown stepped up while Jayson Tatum had an off night.
A major problem is developing for Boston in this series. The team continues to fold under the heat of the moment, unlike the playoff run to the NBA Finals a season ago. Instead of closing out home games, Boston is being pushed to the edge. It was a prime opportunity to close out round one in five games, and the Celtics blew it.
The Reason the Boston Celtics Lost Game Five
Boston’s Lack of Killer Instinct
Boston controlled the game for the first three and a half quarters. Most importantly, they won the rebounding battle and did not turn the ball over. The problem in Game 5 was that there was no closer. Usually, there is a shot from Tatum, Brown, or another starter that puts the dagger through the heart of the opposition.
In the NBA Playoffs so far, there is none of that through five games. Jayson Tatum struggled the entire night, finishing with just 19 points on 8/21 shooting (1/10 from beyond the arc). Tatum’s lackluster effort cost the Celtics late in the game when he could not provide any clutch buckets. Atlanta went a 15-2 run over 3 minutes in the last portion of the game because the offense could not execute.
One of the major problems brewing with the fanbase is the clutch time that Marcus Smart receives. The decision by Joe Mazulla to play Smart over Derrick White or Malcolm Brogdon during key possessions seems to cost them points. Although that is not the only major issue with the team. The final play of the game where the inbounds is a pass to Al Horford moving away from the hoop with only a second left. Why not draw that play up for Tatum or Brown? If not, then put Robert Williams III in for that play.
The Celtics’ Shots Did Not Fall
The long-range jump shot has been a strength for the Celtics during the first round. However, in Game 5, it was not working. Boston finished the game going 12/38, a measly 31.6%. In addition, they shot just 7/13 at the free throw line, which will flat-out not cut it in the NBA, much less an NBA Playoff game.
On the other side, Atlanta shot 19/41 beyond the arc, which is 46.9%. Also, they did not miss a single one of their 10 FT attempts. The failure to convert on the offensive end allowed for Hawks to creep back in and steal the game. Being unable to close a game that was seemingly in hand at home is unacceptable. A loss like this is not expected from a team that believes it can challenge for a title.
Celtics Played Atrocious 4th Quarter Defense
The Celtics were outscored 37-25 in the final quarter. The majority of those points came from the one player that should not have been allowed to beat them. Dejounte Murray was suspended, which meant the burden would fall on Trae Young. The Boston Celtics knew this going into Game 5.
Trae Young ended up scoring 16 points in the final frame. Not only that he also hit the game-winner from beyond the arc. Additionally, it has been Young in the 4th quarter all series long. A stat from ESPN describes this historic series for Trae Young, “Young’s 60 4th-quarter points are most through the first 5 games of a playoff series since Kevin Durant in 2011.”
Every player and fan in the arena knew who would take Atlanta’s final shot. The problem was he was given too much space and time and knocked down a shot that extends the series to Game 6. Now the Hawks have life and feel like they can win the series. In addition, they are getting their star Dejounte Murray back. The Boston Celtics have one job on Thursday to go into Atlanta and win the series.