BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics made a spirited comeback against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Thursday night, but one that ultimately came up short in the end.
Boston nearly erased an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter, trailing by only two in the final seconds, but Jae Crowder’s great look at a go-ahead three-pointer didn’t fall and the Cavaliers held on for a 124-118 win.
For a Boston team trying to insert themselves with the best teams in the conference, there are no moral victories. Asked how much stock he puts in his team outscoring the Cavs 35-23 in the final frame, head coach Brad Stevens cut the reporter off before he could finish the question.
“None,” the coach said. “In the fourth quarter, our guys did a great job of coming back, but I thought we were disappointing in the first three. If they have 100 [points] after three quarters, you don’t have a real chance to beat them.”
The Cavaliers had 101 points on the board after 36 minutes of play, hitting 51.8 percent of their shots. Boston buckled down and went on a great run to trim that lead to a bucket, and did so with Cleveland’s stars on the floor, but there are no consolation prizes for almost beating the defending champs.
Still smarting from the loss, Isaiah Thomas was brutally honest about the result.
“We’re not on that level yet,” said Thomas, who scored 31 points to make it 17 straight games with 20 or more points. “We’re not on Cleveland’s level, so we got work to do. And we gotta figure it out.”
With the loss, the Celtics are now 0-9 against teams with a better record than them. They’re 0-3 against the Cavs and Raptors, the two teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference standings.
“The real good teams, you make a mistake and they capitalize on it, whether it be the Cavs, the Warriors, the Spurs — those type of teams don’t let you live when you make a mistake,” said Thomas. “We’re not on that level yet.”