If I told you the Celtics had a 84-67 lead heading into the 4th quarter of Tuesday night’s game, would you think they’d lose that game? Neither would I. Unfortunately, that was the reality when they took on the Nets in Boston. They just collapsed in the fourth, there really isn’t another way to put it. For a team that prides itself on defense and was rock solid through three quarters, they allowed an inexcusable 51 points in the 4th quarter. As much of a collapse as this was, I need to give the Nets their proper credit. They just never quit and willed their way to a 129-120 win in overtime. About three or four minutes into the first it looked like the Celtics were ready to blow the Nets out of the building. Kemba was back, the offense was cooking and life was good.
The Nets made the switch to a 3-2 zone early in the first and really got the Celtics out of their offensive rhythm for the rest of the first half. Despite some offensive struggles, they still took a 56-43 lead into halftime. The Celts expanded that lead to 21 halfway through the third…that just pains me to write. Then the 4th quarter happened. Caris Levert was a PROBLEM. He ended the night with 51 points and 37 of them, yes 37, came in the 4th and overtime. As I watched the lead shrink by the second, I kept thinking, “there is NO WAY this is happening,” but when Marcus Smart fouled Levert on a three point attempt with less than a second left, I knew it was over. This is a depressing blog I know, but man, how can in not be? This is one of the bigger Celtics’ collapses in recent memory.
Plus, it looks like the Celtics lost more than just the game. Yes, Kemba was back, but if you blinked, you might have missed him. He was on a strict minutes restriction after being out 5 games with a bad knee. Thanks again, Nick Nurse. The game against Brooklyn was the first of a back-to-back, so it’s reasonable to think he’ll sit out against The Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. Gordon Hayward didn’t play at all in the second half after leaving the game with a knee contusion, and Jaylen Brown looked to have some hamstring issues toward the end of the game. So, it looks like the Celtics will be without three of their top four in Cleveland. Tatum was out with an “illness” against Brooklyn, but I think he might have just partied too hard before turning 22 on Tuesday. If he’s active on Wednesday, it just opens the door for Tatum to drop 50.
There were some good things to take away from this one, I guess. I really couldn’t help but smile just seeing Kemba back on the court. He didn’t shoot it too well, but he looked to be quick on his feet and the patented Kemba step back looked good. He looks like he’s healthy, so if he’s out on Wednesday, I would guess it’s just precautionary. Robert Williams made his long-awaited return after not playing since December, and he did some good things, too. He had 10 points in as many minutes, grabbed three boards and was active defensively. Can’t ask for much more from the Timelord. Aside form the fourth quarter, the defensive effort was there. The Celtics forced the Nets into 20 turnovers. And here are some cool things Marcus Smart did to help you forget about that foul on Levert:
Combine this loss with Saturday’s heartbreaker to Houston, and this may be saddest I’ve been all year in terms of losses. This one just hurts, man. BUT, the Celts are 41-19, currently 3rd in the East and could easily be the 2 seed by the time the playoffs come. Hopefully this one lights a fire under them, and if it does, that could be bad news for Cleveland. #InTatumWeTrust