BOSTON (CBS) — The Celtics are moving on from their Game 3 loss to the Raptors, ready to totally redeem themselves in Saturday night’s Game 4.
The C’s helplessly watched as Toronto’s OG Anunoby corralled a perfect inbound pass from Kyle Lowry from across the court and calmly drained a game-winning three with 0.5 left on the clock, handing Boston a 104-103 defeat and their first loss of the playoffs. But as of Friday morning, it sounds like the Celtics have moved on from the loss and have their sights set on Game 4.
“It’s not really anger, but it is extra fuel. We know we had that game, and we know we could have been a lot better,” guard Marcus Smart told reporters on Friday. “This is our first loss in the playoffs. When you lose it puts a bad taste in your mouth and you want to redeem yourself. Tomorrow should be a fun game.”
The Celtics had the win, and a 3-0 series lead, in their grasps, only to let it slip away in heartbreaking fashion. While they’re handing out plenty of credit to the Raptors for making a monumental play, they know that they can be a lot better come Saturday night.
“It’s all about us,” said center Daniel Theis, whose slam with 0.5 seconds to give Boston a 103-101 lead could/should have been the winning bucket. “We have to play better so we don’t get into situations where we can lose on the last shot.
“You don’t want to talk too much about it, because it was painful, but today it’s over. We can’t change anything,” Theis added. “Just look forward to tomorrow and getting the win.”
“I told them I don’t want any of them to lose any sleep over it,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “If anything, let me lose the sleep and we’ll move on.”
Much of Boston’s anger centers on themselves. And while that focus was on the final play after the game on Thursday night, the Celtics were much more worried about their poor performance in the third quarter after watching game film Friday morning.
The Celtics took a 10-point lead into halftime, but that was gone by the middle of the quarter. Toronto led by four points until the Celtics closed the quarter on a 10-2 run, setting up a frantic final 12 minutes.
“We still haven’t played our best basketball yet. For us, that’s a good thing,” said Smart. “Tomorrow should be one of the days we get every loose ball we can, fight our way to get a win.”
It’s no surprise to hear that from someone like Smart. And given Boston’s fierce competitiveness, Stevens isn’t worried about his team’s mindset heading into Saturday.
“We have a really competitive group, a really motivated group. At the end of the day in basketball, as long as there is time on the clock anything can happen. We were on the unfortunate end of a tough loss. You lick your wounds, you feel whatever emotions you’re feeling and you move on,” said Stevens. “Try your best to control what you can to be the best you can be. For some people, putting a chip on your shoulder is the best way to go about it, for others it’s focusing on the task at hand in that moment.
“I love this group and their competitive spirit,” he said. “[I was] asked if we were going to play hard because it was 2-0, and that’s not anything I’m ever worried about with this group. They’re going to bring it, give everything they have and if we get beat, we get beat. We’re looking forward to another chance to compete, because we like to compete.”
Game 4 will tip off shortly at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday night.