The Good, Bad & The Ugly: Can't close, again

The Good, Bad & The Ugly: Can't close, again
April 9, 2014, 11:00 pm
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It's as if there's a kill switch connected to whichever five Celtics are on the floor that gets flipped at oh, sometime around the midway point of the fourth quarter.

Stretches of strong play once again positioned the Celtics to come away with a victory at Atlanta, only for them to kill their chances with a slew of mistakes with the end result being a 105-97 loss to the Hawks.

"I don't know what to say other than the fact that we have to play, we have to play all the way through the game," said head coach Brad Stevens whose team was on the short end of a 25-8 run to close out the game. "We have to be better collectively at both ends."

The up-and-down play.

The blowing a lead in the fourth quarter.

Sadly, it has become a part of the DNA of this Celtics team that's steadily climbing its way towards being one of the worst in franchise history with the losses continuing to pile on.

"This has been a microcosm of the year," Danny Ainge, the C's president of basketball operations, said on the telecast Wednesday on Comcast SportsNet, when he served as a color analyst along with former Celtic Chris Herren.

And with only four games remaining, there's a very good chance that these final games will be more of the same.

With that, here's the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from Boston's ninth loss in a row and 13th straight road loss, which ties the franchise record for consecutive road defeats set in 1979.

The Good

Celtics backcourt

This was one of the better games Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley have played together this season. Rondo had his 12th double-double of the season in just 29 games, with 19 points and 12 assists. Bradley made a bunch of big shots from a variety of spots on the floor, finishing with a game-high 24 points, four rebounds and three steals.

Jared Sullinger

He delivered his 22nd double-double of the season with 15 points and 11 rebounds which included a 3-pointer that snapped a 10-0 Atlanta run in the fourth.

The Bad

Transition defense

Boston committed just as many turnovers (16) as Atlanta, but the Hawks' miscues only generated 11 points for the Celtics, while Boston's turnovers created 25 for the Hawks.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens singled out his team's poor transition defense as a major factor in the loss.

"Gets them back in it; gets them quick baskets," Stevens said of Atlanta's scoring in transition off Boston's turnovers. "Gives them momentum."

And maybe most significant, a victory over the Celtics.

The Ugly

Fourth-quarter finish

It wasn't just that the Celtics finished the game on the short end of a 25-8 flurry. It was how easily Atlanta's shooters were getting open. I mean, Kyle Korver, arguably the best 3-point shooter in the NBA, was as wide open as you could possibly be not once, but on back-to-back possessions in the fourth quarter. And so, he did what Korver does, draining a pair of 3s that put the Hawks ahead and they never looked back.