Celtics-Sixers Game 4 review: C's lose composure

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Celtics-Sixers Game 4 review: C's lose composure

PHILADELPHIA For as near-perfect as the Boston Celtics were in Game 3, they were perfectly flawed down the stretch in Game 4 which ended with a 92-83 loss. The best-of-seven series with Philadelphia is now tied at 2-2, with Game 5 in Boston on Monday and Game 6 back in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

"We lost our composure," said C's coach Doc Rivers, whose team led by double figures most of the first half. "We never returned to playing basketball like we did in the first half."

Said Celtics guard Ray Allen: "The third quarter we just lost our attack. They attacked us going into the fourth quarter. We still, we were in a good place but they continued to attack."

And now the Celtics find themselves heading back to Boston looking to regain control of the series as opposed to closing it out.

"On the road, you gotta put the knockout punch to a team," said Boston's Paul Pierce. "We just didn't do that."

Not closing out the game playing the right way was indeed a factor in the game's outcome. Here are some other keys identified prior to the game, and how they actually played out.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR: After torching them with his scoring and passing, look for the Sixers to place a renewed focus on trying to limit Rajon Rondo. As much as Kevin Garnett's scoring around the basket and Paul Pierce's ability to get to the free throw line has hurt them, Rondo has quietly gone about dominating this series with his all-around play.

WHAT WE SAW: Rondo had a great line for the night - 15 points, 15 assists with just four turnovers. But down the stretch, Rondo - like the rest of the Celtics - failed to come up with the big play, offensively or defensively, that was needed in order to get the win.

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Kevin Garnett vs. Spencer Hawes: Garnett has been crushing Hawes all series, and there's a good chance that KG will again win this head-to-head battle. But the Sixers are probably going to try and have Hawes look to be more of a scorer, which they believe will potentially wear Garnett down some. Sounds good in theory. But like most of Philly's approaches to handling Garnett in this series it's probably not going to work.

WHAT WE SAW: At some point, you had to count on Kevin Garnett cooling off some. But Friday, KG was about as frigid shooting the ball as we've seen him this season. He finished with nine points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field. C's coach Doc Rivers has no answer for why Garnett never really got into the flow offensively for the C's. "I don't know. I'm going to have to go back and look at figure that one out myself," Rivers said. "I thought he was a passer tonight a lot. We have to get him back in the middle of the paint, and him being more aggressive."

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ray Allen only took one shot in Game 3 and it wasn't even a 3-pointer. The Sixers have done a good job of making sure he doesn't get going, but his presence has opened things up for just about every one on the floor with him. Only Kevin Garnett (plus-47) and Avery Bradley (plus-23) have a higher plusminus ratio than Allen (plus 22). "That tells you his effectiveness," said Sixers coach Doug Collins. "Ray Allen, he's a threat to throw up 20 points anytime. When he's on the floor, you have to space him differently. So what he does, he takes away some of your help. You have to shade him a little bit more than you do somebody else."

WHAT WE SAW: Allen was a bit more active shooting the ball (2-for-6, five points), but his impact - much like the rest of the Celtics bench - was minimal in terms of turning the game's tide one way or another.

STAT TO TRACK: No one expects the Sixers' starters to out-score their Boston Celtics' counterparts. But Philadelphia has no shot at winning tonight - or the series for that matter - if they don't at the very least keep it relatively close. In Boston's two playoff wins, the Celtic starters outscored the Sixers' first unit by an average of 30 points. In the lone loss, Boston's starters tallied 60 compared to a respectable 56 by the Sixers.

WHAT WE SAW: This was once again decisively lopsided in Boston's favor, 71-48. But the Sixers finished the game with a 9-0 run, with five of those points being scored by Iguodala.

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

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0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.