So-Why Have The Celtics Struggled In The Fourth Quarter?
Before winning their last game, the Celtics were on a putrid losing streak in part to poor 4th quarter play. So congrats on being 1 for your last 7 in close game wins! Just because the shamrock squad pulled it together last night, doesn’t mean this is any less of a problem in the future. It is, and will most likely continue to be if the team doesn’t play to its strengths. Here are five reasons why the Celtics flop in the 4th:
They Don’t Have Enough Pure Scorers
This is probably the most apparent reason, and has been so since the start of the year. Sure, Isaiah Thomas is a gifted scorer, especially given his height. He can create a shot for himself, but there aren’t other players on the squad who can do the same. Evan Turner is the second closest option in my mind, but after that, there isn’t much. Not many can create a shot for themselves if it came down to it. Relying on Isaiah won’t always work, so there needs to be another solution, or solutions.
Games Slow Down in The 4th
The Celtics are at their best when they can force turnovers and go directly into a fastbreak. But in terms of the half court offense, they’re at their best when they work the ball for the best shot. As mentioned, not many players can actually create their own shot, but with quick ball movement, they can find good shots. In the fourth quarter however, the game slows down. There aren’t as many fast breaks, and opponent defense picks up in crunch time. As a result, quick passes gets more difficult to execute.
They Are Still A Young Team
With youth, comes inexperience. Inexperience in late game situations. It’s plays like Marcus Smart getting blocked for a late game layup and then giving an unnecessary foul at the other end of the floor. The team as a whole needs to get better at taking the best shot, not turning the ball over, etc. The Celtics need get in as many close games as possible this season. Experience can be painful, but also a learning experience to build off of.
This team has players that have a lot of different skill sets. Finding the group of players that match the skill sets needed for crunch time, and play well down the stretch has been difficult. Brad has been handed a tough task in that regard, no doubt. But more stable rotations down the stretch would help this team hit their groove late in games. I’m not saying it has to be the same every night, but keep it somewhat consistent if possible.
Bad Team 3-Point Shooting
This team has a lot of pretty solid players, that also happen to be pretty awful behind the arc. 3 point shooting is just not their game. I rip my hair out of my head when players on this team shoot late game threes who shouldn’t be. But that’s not the point. The point is, opponents know that certain players can’t shoot, which collapses the D. 3 point shooters stretch the floor, and the more guys who can hit threes, the more effective it is. If you don’t have that, it makes driving to the hoop that much more difficult.
But think back to why the Celtics won last night. What was it that kept them from barfing up the lead in the 4th quarter like they normally would? Defense. Defense, defense, defense, defense. 4 key steals in the last 3 minutes of the game.
Again, if this team can play to its strength in the 4th quarter-particularly in the final five minutes, they could actually do some damage. Defense is their strength. I’m all about it this year (not that it’s not important every year) because they are gifted. That’s how they need to win games.