At one time, the Boston Celtics were the biggest disappointments in the NBA, spending much of the season at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Their biggest problem was blowing leads games. The Celtics led the NBA with four blown leads of at least 19 points, twice as much as any other team at the time.
The season’s low point was when the Celtics blew a 25-point-lead to the New York Knicks that had head coach Ime Udoka calling out his team for lack of mental toughness.
Now thanks to a 108-105 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, the Celtics are not only riding an eight-game winning streak, but they have leapfrogged into the sixth seed, making them playoff eligible. The difference in this game was chemistry and poise. While Boston continued to execute down the stretch, Hawks Coach Nate McMillan pointed to the third quarter that cost Atlanta.
“I thought in the third quarter; we got distracted by the officiating. They got into the penalty early, and they had a 42-point quarter,” Atlanta coach Nate McMillan said via ESPN. “I thought that was the difference in the game. We just were not able to recover from that.”
The Celtics chemistry issues were apparent enough that team president Brad Stevens felt he had to address it amid his teams’ struggles. Now, those issues seem to be a thing of the past, according to Jaylen Brown.
“We definitely lost some games we felt like we shouldn’t have lost early in the season. Now we get the chance to play some of these teams again, and we’re looking to pull out some wins,” Brown said. “We had a lot of guys making plays right now, and that’s what we need to do in the fourth quarter. We’ve been finding ways to win — defensively, timely baskets, and we’ve been sealing out games.”
The Celtics take on the new-look Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday night.