The Boston Celtics were looking ready for the second round after going up double digits on the Atlanta Hawks in the fourth quarter of Game 5. Yet, looking ahead before the contest was over spelled doom for the Celtics, as they took their foot off the gas and allowed a remarkable Hawks comeback.
The 119-117 loss left Boston in shock, and Celtics star Jaylen Brown fully admitted that his squad squandered a great opportunity.
“Smoked the game,” Brown said, per Jay King of The Athletic.
However, Brown also asserted that the Celtics need to move on from the heartbreaker and focus on Game 6 in Atlanta.
“Our mindset and mentality is to get ready for the next one,” Brown continued. “We’ve been in situations like this before.”
During last year’s playoffs, the Celtics suffered a rough Game 5 loss in Boston against the Milwaukee Bucks before bouncing back in Games 6 and 7 to take the series. In fact, like Atlanta, Milwaukee was down double digits in the fourth quarter before storming back to capture the 110-107 win. Whether the C’s respond to this Game 5 loss like they did last season’s defeat is mostly up to Boston’s stars.
For the most part, Brown did his best to will the Green Team to a victory with a 35-point performance. However, his four missed free throws prevented the C’s from closing the game out when they could’ve been the difference maker.
Celtics gave that game away
Had a chance to go for the knock out punch and instead sat back and let the Hawks storm back. Too many missed free throws. Bad fouls.
The type of loss that ignites the season-long fears about this team’s ability to close tight games
— Joon Lee (@joonlee) April 26, 2023
Co-star Jayson Tatum shoulders the blame for the loss as well. He shot a terrible 1-for-10 from deep and settled for some difficult shots in the final minutes rather than running the clock or taking it to the hoop.
For the C’s to advance, they’ll need their best players to remain aggressive and not ease up at all. It’ll be easier said than done, though, as the Hawks will hold home-court advantage for Game 6 on Thursday night and have guard Dejounte Murray returning from suspension.
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