Marcus Smart handling the ball vs the Thunder.

From Boston Celtics official twitter account: @celtics

Late in the fourth quarter, with roughly 2 minutes to go, the Celtics had the ball and a 2 point lead. Sloppy execution ended up killing Boston’s hope for a victory, however. Because a few possessions later, one of those being an Al Horford turnover, the Celtics were facing a 2 for 1 opportunity for the Thunder in a tie game.

The Thunder got an easy bucket within seconds. And the game was never again in doubt. The Thunder forced a miss on a layup attempt by Avery Bradley. Bradley was able to force a jump ball immediately after, but Westbrook controlled the tip, got the ball directly to his teammate Semaj Christon, and the Celtics were unable to foul. This resulted in an easy bucket at the rim for OKC. The Celtics were sloppy, not only in the final minutes, but throughout the game. Which leads us to the keys to the game.

Turnovers – Fouling on Defense

Stevens: We had opportunities in isolation that didn’t go. We had critical turnovers throughout the game. Frustrating loss.

– Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 12, 2016

Avery Bradley committed 4 turnovers. Smart made 3 and Crowder made 2 of his own. Horford only recorded a single turnover, but it was at a crucial point in the game.

The point is, the Celtics played sloppy basketball. And they got burned by it.

13 turnovers might not sound like a lot in the grand scheme of things. But it is when you’re also playing sloppy and careless defensively. The Celtics (22 fouls for 27 OKC free throws) committed a lot of stupid fouls in this game.

Jae Crowder is one example. Jae Crowder had himself a stellar game offensively. He scored 18 points, off 7 for 9 shooting, with 3 assists. But he fouled out of the game. And his 5th foul forced him to the bench for a large portion of the second half.

The Celtics could have used his offense at the end, but they were unable to because of his sloppy play defensively.

Closing Out Games

The Celtics had plenty of chances to close this game out. They will most likely be analyzed to death by various media outlets in the coming days. However, here’s what Marcus has to say about it:

Smart: It’s gotta stop. We let teams come back and take over the game like this (in the 4th quarter).

– Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 12, 2016

Marcus is owning it here. Taking responsibility for the failures at the end of games, without calling out any specific teammates. Hopefully the Celtics can do better next time. They have to maintain composure when absorbing the opponent’s best punches and punch back. From the 4 minute mark to the 2 minute mark they appeared to being just that, but failed to do so at the end of the game.

Bench Production

The Celtics bench was unable to match the Thunder bench.

The Thunder bench put up 38 points. The Celtics bench only posted 24. And that was with extended minutes, and 10 points, from Jaylen Brown with Jae Crowder in foul trouble. That is not enough.

Semaj Christon posted 9 points and 2 assists without missing a shot from the field in this game. Kanter and Lauvergne both gave OKC a boost.

If Rozier and Olynyk are going to play over 20 minutes a piece the Celtics need more than 14 points combined from them. Also, Rozier and Olynyk combined for 5 for 21 shooting.

Tough Road Ahead

The Celtics play another tough opponent, again on the road, Wednesday against the San Antonio Spurs at 9:30 PM. The next 2 days of rest will be important. The Celtics need to get together, and prepare to grind out a tough game Wednesday night in Texas.