On the second night of a clash against a tough Oklahoma City Thunder team, the Boston Celtics almost lost in the final minutes. Although the Celtics dominated much of the competition, the Celtics once again clung to a flimsy lead.
Unlike some of their early-season breakdowns, such as their implosion against the Chicago Bulls in early November, the Celtics stood firm and celebrated a win against a team that has had big comeback wins this year.
Led by 33 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists from Jayson Tatum, the Celtics managed to hammer the final nails into the coffin of thunder less than a minute before the end after Udoka emptied his bench and regretted it almost instantly.
We actually saw a two-half game where the Celtics showed signs of fatigue after their high-intensity win over the Los Angeles Lakers just 24 hours earlier.
“The Lakers was a big win last night, a big rivalry, and I just remind them who this team is and what players they have and that they won here on the second night of a clash last year. “Udoka told the media as he talked about the Celtics’ two victories in two nights.
The Celtics have had a habit of downplaying their opponent for the past 18 months. Against Thunder we saw a Celtics team doing their job efficiently, but after half time the mistakes of the old days crept back in.
“We know the team will continue to play. They’ve had some massive comeback wins this year. They beat the Lakers at 20, beat the Lakers at 26, and then last night, even against Milwaukee, they were 20 behind and fought their way back into the game in the fourth quarter. We know they will keep playing, they have a young, fragile group that is playing aggressively and I think we got a little sloppy, took our feet off the gas a little. It is thanks to them that they played hard, especially at the last minute when we deployed our subs. Just a learning experience for the young guys but for ourselves, the things we did well in the first half got a little sloppy on the inside for us, we shot a few competitive shots in the second half and they really got us hurt in the offensive glass, 25 points for the second chance there, ”said Udoka.
Early in the game against the Thunder, many had called the competition a potential trap game, where the Celtics could rest on their recent good form before slipping against a team that never gave up.
“We knew it was a dangerous game, they played last night and we knew they would still have a hard time getting out. They did that all year and all last year. I wouldn’t say it’s a trap game. We turned the page pretty quickly last night and said it doesn’t mean anything if we do a dud tonight, so we made most of the effort in the first half, a first half of 45 points. As I mentioned earlier, we did some of the things well in the 2ndnd semi-defensive we did not do so well and gave up 60 points there. But overall we’re happy with the win, Lakers was a big win last night, a big rivalry, and I just remind them who this team is and what players they have and that they won here on the second straight night last year . So we gave them the appropriate fear and respect for your opponent, they got out of here and played mostly but got sloppy in the end, but that won’t spoil good consecutive home wins, ”Udoka explained when he replied to questions that the Thunder competition is a game of traps.
After the game, Grant Williams and Al Horford commented on the Celtics’ inability to remain incarcerated once they have built a lead.
“There are a lot of different things, there is really one thing you really can’t say, we may have a big head start and ownership might not mean that much, it shouldn’t be, but it’s like ‘oh me’ me will do this recording or do something else. ‘ Instead of just getting on with what you do and what got you there, you can sometimes lose sight of that, ”Horford said as he answered questions about the poor second half of the Celtics against the Thunder.
Williams also spoke about the Celtics’ little effort after building a sovereign lead, and provided insight into what players expect of themselves to move forward.
“We just have to keep that intensity throughout the game. We lost a few leads because we took our foot off the gas. This is something that happens once as a team, ok, let’s not happen again; happened twice, now you need to bring it up. Tonight I think we had to focus more on what they were doing well and not let them get those offensive rebounds and second chances. They got a lot of shots for their merit that they normally wouldn’t have shot so they have to give them the credit they deserve, but at the end of the day we still have to focus on what we can achieve and what we can do “Explained Williams.
Despite the poor performance of the Celtics in the second half, they were able to secure victory against the Thunder and ensure that they could handle two wins in two nights in a tough back-to-back test.
The Celtics will face the Houston Rockets at the TD Garden on Monday November 22nd to continue their form recovery.