BOSTON (CBS) – When the Boston Celtics blew a lead against the Miami Heat on Monday night, it was understandable seeing how Miami is the best team in basketball.
But when they blow a lead against the lowly New Orleans Hornets, it’s a little less understandable and a lot more unacceptable.
So as he has a few times this season after his team let one slip away in a not-so-proud fashion, Celtics head coach Doc Rivers ripped into his team.
“We messed the game up, our spirit. We thought we were going to win the game when we got the lead,” Rivers told reporters shortly after Anthony Davis’ tip-in with less than a second left gave New Orleans a 87-86 win. “You could see it. I told our guys at halftime [and] you could see it in the middle of the second quarter. We went from being a solid good-looking basketball team to showtime, and I believe in the basketball gods. I think when you mess up the game, the game messes you up, and I thought we deserved [to lose]. I really did.”
Boston shot 60-percent in the first half as they built a 10-point lead before heading into the locker room. But as Rivers pointed out, the C’s tried to be more “showtime” than the fundamentally-sound team they strive to be — and that came back to bite them in the end. They cooled off drastically to finish 45.8-percent for the night, and shot just 4-for-14 from three-point range.
Not much went right for the Celtics in the game’s final 15+ minutes, but Rivers said they have no one to blame but themselves.
“You could just see it. We stopped making passes, we started dancing around, stopped defending, laughing — you could see our guys laughing and joking. I told our coaches, I said, ‘The basketball gods will get us tonight at some point.’ And, unfortunately, it did,” said a frustrated Rivers. “So I thought we deserved everything we got. We don’t learn, because we’ve done this three or four times this year and we just don’t learn. It’s disappointing.”
Wednesday night brings back memories of Boston’s loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in January and each of their losses to the Charlotte Bobcats. The Celtics had a 13 point lead early in the third quarter, but only managed to score 12 points in the frame. The Hornets stuck around, and their overall advantage in the rebound department — out-rebounding the Celtics 45-28 — ended up being a big difference in the end as Davis’ putback was the difference.
The loss is a big one for Boston in terms of their standing in the Eastern Conference, as Atlanta, Brooklyn and New York all won — dropping the Celtics to the seventh seed in the Conference.