The Celtics struggled to finish at the basket and lacked aggression.
The was the story of the two-game trip to Cleveland as Boston now returns home for Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals tied at 2-2 against the Cavaliers.
Boston’s youth revealed weaknesses in both Games 3 and 4 – while the officiating did the Celtics no favors. A key turning point play in Boston’s comeback hopes in Game 4 came when Marcus Morris was robbed of what might have been a four-point play. Replays showed Kevin Love hooked his foot on Morris – making it appear as if the Morris had tripped Love – as the veteran forward drilled a 3-pointer.
While it was only one call, it led to a momentum swing that could have contributed to the difference in the game.
Now headed back to Boston for Game 5 Wednesday night, the Celtics are the ones who will need to take advantage of the home court, and capture the win before the series turns for good.
While Shane Larkin likely still remains out with a sore shoulder suffered when he collided with Joel Embiid in Game 3 of the conference semifinals, there are key matchups the Celtics could target that were revealed late in Game 4.
With Morris battling foul trouble, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was forced to turn to Marcus Smart guarding LeBron James, with Smart being effective with his physical play despite a huge performance from James overall.
Less foul trouble in Game will help put the Celtics in a better place defensively and offensively.
Other adjustments will need to be made.
Jaylen Brown was not very present in the first half of Game 4 – committing careless fouls and losing one-on-one battles with Kyle Korver – before coming on strong late in the game and finishing with 25 points.
The Celtics also settled for too many outside jump shots early in the shot clock instead of moving the ball inside, and back out, for better shots.
Defense was also a killer as Boston allowed 68 points in the first half before cracking down and giving up just 43 in the second half.
The Celtics need to hopefully carry over the tempo of the second half playing into a critical Game 5 at TD Garden – where they are 9-0 in this year’s playoffs – when they will either leave the floor one win from the NBA Finals or headed back to Cleveland with their season on the line.
About the Podcast: Celtics Stuff Live was the original live interactive webcast produced specifically for Celtics fans. The show originally aired for two hours every Sunday night and featured regular and prominent guests such as Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Marc Spears, Peter Vecsey, Mark Murphy, Scott Souza, Kelly Dwyer and Gary Tanguay and broadcast on CelticsBlog.com. Justin Poulin was one of the first members of the internet media to be credentialed with access to the locker room. After effectively retiring in early 2012, Celtics Stuff Live returns with Jon Duke and Justin Poulin featuring the interviews and expert analysis that listeners came to expect from the show in the Danny Ainge era.
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