The Boston Celtics dropped 40 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday to roar all the way back to within six points. Unfortunately, it was not enough to make up for yet another slow start, as the Miami Heat came away victorious, winning the crucial bout 130-124. The C’s surrendered 79 points to the Heat over the first 24 minutes of regulation, entering halftime with an insurmountable 26-point deficit.
“If you just lose the game by 30 and the guys in front of you were just better, you can kind of look at the game and see where you kind of messed up,” Evan Fournier said following the game. “But when you fix things by just being more aggressive and turning it up, it shows a lack of physicality, in my opinion. That’s something that can’t happen.”
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Fournier: ‘I Wish I Had the Answer’
Fournier was one of the team’s few lone bright spots on Sunday afternoon, putting forth arguably his best performance as a Celtic with a 30-point, eight-assist showing. Fournier’s outing marked the fourth consecutive game the 28-year-old has scored at least 17 points. Yet, despite his budding brilliance, the team owns a record of just 1-3 over that span. In those three losses, the team has been outscored 210-140 in the first half.
“It’s something that’s from within, it starts with yourself,” Fournier said of the team’s struggles to start quickly. “I have to bring it, then the next guy has to bring it. Five guys on the court bringing it together, then good things happen. It’s a very hard question to answer. I wish I had the answer. We all wish we had the answers.”
“The main problem right now… starting games better, to be honest… every game is different, you have different challenges every game,” he stated. “We have the tools, we have the talent, we have the players, there’s no doubt about it — it’s just a matter of doing it, stop talking about it, just doing it.”
Tatum: ‘It’s a Choice’
While Fournier may not have had the answers for why Boston continues to put forth lackluster efforts early in games, Jayson Tatum just might.
“I guess the answer is, it’s a choice. II don’t think that we’re necessarily good enough to just turn the switch on, like ‘alright, let’s play.’” Tatum said, via CLNS’ Alexandra Francisco.
The fact of the matter is, the Celtics are not the Eastern Conference powerhouse that so many pegged them to be this season. Owners of only the league’s 14th-best record (35-33), the C’s have shown their true colors. With their playoff hopes hanging in the balance, the team doesn’t have the luxury of simply turning the switch on and off when they so choose.
“Certain games here and there, we’ve done that in a second half and have been able to win,” he added. “Obviously today we dug ourselves too deep in a hole. Gave ourselves a chance, we’re always gonna do that. But you know, I know that we can do better, do more, especially in the beginning of the games. A little bit more toughness and play faster. Because when we get stops in the second half, play fast, play to our advantage we look pretty good. So we just got to start like that.”
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