Celtics overcome costly mistakes down the stretch to outlast Warriors in overtime thriller

Celtics overcome costly mistakes down the stretch to outlast Warriors in overtime thriller

The Boston Celtics managed to get past the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in overtime, 121-118, to get their eighth straight victory, but it certainly wasn’t easy. Down the stretch of regulation and overtime, Boston made several errors that almost lost the game, which All-Star guard Jayson Tatum called attention immediately after the victory.

“It was a crazy game, especially the end,” Tatum said. “It was like we were trying to give it away.”

The way Boston was playing it definitely felt like they were trying to hand the game to Golden State, or at least take their foot off the gas pedal in a rematch of last season’s NBA Finals. But they should know by now that you can’t do that against this Warriors team.

The most egregious mistakes came at the end of overtime, as the Celtics clung to a 121-113 lead with 38 seconds left. Until then, Boston had outscored Golden State 15-7 in overtime, and were in complete control of the game. But then the mistakes started piling up. Al Horford made the one foul you’re never supposed to make in a basketball game when he grazed Andrew Wiggins’ arm as he went up for a three-pointer. A Celtics challenge was unsuccessful and Wiggins went 2 for 3 at the line.

Immediately afterward, with the Warriors playing in a full-court press, Boston turned the ball over and gave up a corner 3-pointer to Donte DiVincenzo.

That seven point lead quickly turned to three points. You’d think a 3-pointer would force the Celtics to tighten things up, but then they almost turned it over again and this errant pass to Jaylen Brown trying to break the press.

Boston couldn’t take the lead, but the Warriors ran out of timeouts and couldn’t move the ball past halfcourt to get a decent shot with four seconds left.

Overtime wasn’t the only moment Boston lost the game, it also happened at the end of regulation.

Tatum committed three turnovers in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter, one of which led to a Stephen Curry layup on the other end that extended Golden State’s lead to three points. If it weren’t for Brown’s 3-pointer, Boston wouldn’t even have gone to overtime.

After the game, Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla talked about what his team learned from this win.

“Everyone asked what we learned? What we learned is that it takes a mindset to be successful and a really good team in the NBA,” Mazzulla said. “You can’t be inconsistent with that.”

Right Mazzulla, the Celtics can not get within two inches of the finish line, trip and then crawl to first place. There’s no reason the final score should have been so close when Boston was up by seven points with 30 seconds left. You do not foul a 3-point shooter, make a turnover and then almost commit another one with the game on the line.

Despite the late game scares, the Celtics this season have not been in the habit of losing close games like Thursday night. Boston ranks second in the league in clutch hitting percentage (73.7 percent) with a 14-5 record. That’s a significant change from a season ago when they were 13-22 in clutch wins, ranking 29th. It shows the progress this team has made since last season, but the mistakes made at the end of the game showed that there is still room for improvement if this team wants to hold that Larry O’Brien trophy in June.

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