Celtics can’t shake troubling trend of losing double-digit leads as loss to Jazz drops Boston behind the 76ers

If the Boston Celtics are to prove they’re still among the premier title contenders, they’ll need to sort out a troubling trend that has emerged over the past few weeks and reared its ugly head again in their 118-117 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday night raised Utah jazz.

For the fifth time in their last seven losses, the Celtics gambled away a double-digit lead. This time they were 19 points clear in the first half before host Jazz charged back to steal the game. While the Celtics had two chances to take the lead in the last 30 seconds, their shot selection was questionable. Jayson Tatum bricked a pull-up 3 late in the first quarter that looked more like a two-for-one attempt, and Grant Williams was blocked by Walker Kessler on an ill-advised drive in the dying seconds.

The loss dropped the Celtics to 49-23 for the season, putting them a percentage points behind the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers and two games behind the Milwaukee Bucks at the top spot in the race for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. That the Celtics officially secured a playoff spot that night will mean little.

Even more disappointing than the fact that they’ve been playing .500 basketball for more than a month is the nature of their losses. The Celtics are 8-7 in their last 15 games but could be 13-2 at this stage. At the very least, they should have a better record considering they’ve lost at least a 14-point lead in five of those seven losses.

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Let’s take a closer look:

February 14 at Bucks

Biggest lead: 14 points – 2:16 in the third quarter
Most recently in double digits: 1:28 in the third quarter
Final Loss Score: Six Points (Overtime)

Note: The game was played without Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford

March 3 against nets

Biggest lead: 28 points – 7:23 in the second quarter
Last double-digit lead: halftime
Final defeat: 10 points

Note: 2nd largest missed lead in the NBA this season

Biggest lead: 14 points – 6:27 in the third quarter
Most recently in double digits: 4:36 in the third quarter
Final Loss Score: Two points (double overtime)

Note: Jayson Tatum missed the game-winning shot on regulation’s buzzer; Al Horford missed the game-winning shot at the overtime buzzer

Biggest lead: 15 points – 4:45 in the third quarter
Most recently in double digits: 7:06 in the fourth quarter
Final Loss Score: Four Points (Overtime)

Notes: The game was played without Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams III; Grant Williams missed potential game-winning free throws in the final seconds of regulation; second night of back-to-back

March 18 in jazz

Biggest lead: 19 points – 6:36 in the second quarter
Last time with a double-digit lead: 3:25 in the second quarter
Ultimate Defeat: One point

Notes: Grant Williams missed a potential game-winning layup in the closing seconds; second night of back-to-back

If there’s a silver lining for the Celtics, it’s that they were shorthanded in some of those games and still managed to build a double-digit lead, showing the team’s great talent. Additionally, they missed potential game-winning shots in three of them.

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Still, it’s worrying that they’ve had so many problems finishing games on the track. This is the time of year when you want to play your best basketball, just like the Celtics did last season. Instead, now more than ever, their worst habits are on display.

The Celtics still have one of the deepest rosters in the league, led by multiple All-NBA wings in Tatum and Brown, and are in the top-5 on both offense and defense ratings. There’s no question they have the ability to contend for a title, but whether they have the consistency remains to be seen.

Source : www.cbssports.com

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