Celtics show 'fight' in comeback attempts

Celtics show 'fight' in comeback attempts
March 29, 2014, 12:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

There's something admirable about the way the Boston Celtics continue to fight back from sizable deficits against most teams, most nights.

But in a season where finding consistency has been an elusive goal for Boston, this is one routine they could do without.

The latest comeback to fall short was Friday night's 105-103 loss at Toronto.

Boston trailed by double digits in the second half, but rallied to take the lead in the fourth quarter only for the Raptors to win it with an Amir Johnson put-back basket with seven seconds to play.

The Celtics had one last chance to force overtime or steal the victory, but Jared Sullinger's desperation heave from behind the 3-point line wasn't even close to going in.

And so there was head coach Brad Stevens after the loss, trying to once again explain how the C's managed to let another winnable game slip through away.

"We need to stop getting down 14 (points) every game," Stevens told reporters after Friday's loss. "That's the bottom line, and then we have to finish. That's as much on me as anybody else. We can't constantly be down double figures going into the fourth quarter."

Stevens added, "to our guys credit, they fight. They play to the horn. It's not good enough if you're always running uphill."

And because of that, Boston (23-49) continues to slide down towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference with Friday's loss being their third straight and eighth in their last nine games.

However, the glass-half-full theory suggests that playing so many close games is an encouraging sign for a team that record-wise, is where many anticipated they would be at this point in the season.

But keeping games close guarantees nothing other than another loss.

Even Stevens who may be the most optimistic 49-game losing coach the NBA has ever seen, isn't convinced that the close calls Boston has had this season will bode well for future success.

"I hope so but at the same time, we are not in the business of hanging in," Stevens said. "We can't be in the business of hanging in. We have to get over the hump and do a better job of that."

If there's one clear positive that can be taken away from Boston's play in these final days of the season, it's that the selfish bug that often infects losing teams has yet to surface and at this point, it's unlikely to.

"There are times where the situation, especially at the end of the year, (not) going into the playoffs, things can get selfish," said Celtics guard Jerryd Bayless who led all Boston scorers with 20 points on Friday. "I think everybody has seen that on teams. It's refreshing with this team, the ball is still moving. Everybody is playing the right way and we have to continue to do that to the end."

Regardless of how deep a deficit the Celtics find themselves in, Stevens sees the need to improve their end-of-game play.

"We all have to finish better," Stevens said. "We all have to take every detail all throughout the game better. Every time you're playing with a team that is not one of the top five, six, seven, eight teams in the league and you know that, every detail matters even more. The first 36 minutes are just as (important) as the last one. We just have to get better at it."