When the Celtics first had the ball on Monday night, Jayson Tatum passed Otto Porter Jr., entered the lane, and returned to throw the ball at Marcus Smart. With Smart on, Tatum’s pass was off-target and he plunged into the crowd for a turnover.
A few hours later, after the Boston Celtics lost to the Golden State Warriors 104-94 in Game 5 of the 2022 NBA Finals and fell into a 3-2 hole in the series, Tatum sat on the podium and said what everyone had said. for the entire post-season:
“Yes, we have to be better. It’s hard to beat when we don’t flip the ball. Frankly, it’s easy to beat when we flip the ball.”
Turnovers were once again the main story for the Celtics. They couldn’t take care of the ball, coughing 18 times, which gave the Warriors 22 points. In a low-scoring game determined by 10 points, these are the margins that change the outcome and perhaps the series.
For the Finals, the Warriors turned the Celtics’ 78 turnovers into 103 points. This is the third most points lost in the first five games of the Finals since 1990, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In the 32 years since then, only the Chicago Bulls in 1991 and 1992 have made more profits than rival turnovers.
That’s a unifying problem for the Celtics, who had 16.3 percent of ball possession in the Finals. In almost one in five positions, they don’t even give themselves a chance to score, which is bad enough. As a result, they also make it easier for the Warriors to score goals on the other side by allowing them to play in the transition rather than a fixed defense.
It was the third time the Celtics have had 16 or more turnovers in the series. All three of these matches were defeats. For all playoffs, the Celtics are now 1-7 when they’ve flipped over 16 times, and 13-2 when they’ve managed to stay under 16 turnovers.
Of course, the Warriors deserve a lot of praise. Coincidentally, they weren’t one of the best defensive teams in the league this season. They’re smart, they coach well, and they’ve increased the intensity and pressure in the last games.
“They’re a really good defensive team,” said Jaylen Brown. “Disciplined and solid. They forced us to do what we obviously don’t do best. We just need to keep getting to know the game, seeing the game, and making in-game adjustments. Take good care of the ball when it hits the ground. him.”
At the same time, much of this turnover issue was the result of the Celtics’ carelessness and inexplicable mistakes. Faulty passes, losing field position, being careless with the ball, poor decision-making — all of these were present in Game 5 as well as throughout the playoffs.
Down 12 points in a must-win game, in the middle of the second quarter, Tatum steps onto the field and whips a pass behind Robert Williams III. Draymond Green crosses over and heads to the line for two free throws. These types of games have nothing to do with the other team and cannot be in the NBA Finals.
Third-quarter now, the Celtics are on the run and on the verge of taking the lead. Al Horford grabs a rebound and traffics the floor and tries to dribble a dribble while running with Jaylen Brown despite the Celtics not having the points. They mishandle the ball and the Warriors win two free throws for Klay Thompson. There was no reason to force action there. When you see you don’t have an advantage, play the smart game and reset it to the top.
“Another game with a lot of turnovers,” Brown said. “It cost us.”
The Celtics were not themselves in Game 5. Or maybe they were, and that’s the problem. They couldn’t get out of their way on Monday night and are now on the brink.