Boston Celtics hope pain of NBA Finals loss 'propels us forward'
In the wake of their season-ending loss to the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at TD Garden, the message from the Boston Celtics was that the future is bright, and that this loss was, in their eyes, just the beginning.
"It's definitely is tough," Marcus Smart said of Boston's 103-90 loss to Golden State. "But it's definitely one of those things we've been through hell to get here, and you take that. You know what I'm saying? We got to use that.
"It's going to be tough. That's what I know for myself. I'm viewing it and looking at all the s--- we had to get through to get here just to even get to this situation to have an opportunity."
The Celtics, who had won their first three elimination games in these playoffs to get to this point, were unable to make that happen a fourth time Thursday, as their series-long issues offensively once again reared their head.
For all of the attention paid to Finals MVP Stephen Curry, Boston held the Warriors in and around the low 100s in scoring in each game of this series. But, as Jayson Tatum said, it was Boston's poise on the offensive end that repeatedly failed the Celtics, as they committed one turnover after another.
The Celtics had another 22 turnovers in Game 6, while Tatum -- who finished with an NBA-record 100 giveaways in this postseason, the most ever by a player in a single playoffs -- had five of them alone.
In the game's opening minutes, it looked like Boston would be in business. The Celtics came out flying at both ends, running crisp offense and harassing the Warriors defensively. That allowed Boston to jump out to a 14-2 lead four minutes in, sending the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy and advancing the possibility this series could be headed back to San Francisco.
But then the Warriors responded. And responded. And responded. Minutes ticked by, and Golden State kept scoring. Boston kept turning the ball over. By the end of the first quarter, the Warriors had taken the lead -- one Golden State would never give back. That advantage ballooned to 15 at halftime, and while the Celtics fought valiantly in the second half, they never truly threatened to come back.
"This is tough, getting to this point and not accomplishing what we wanted to," said Tatum, who hardly spoke above a whisper during his stint at the podium after his latest rough game in this series, finishing with 13 points on 6-for-18 shooting in 40 minutes.
"It hurts. You know, we all could have done things better. I feel like I could have done a lot of things better. But, you know, like we said, we competed, we tried all season, all playoffs."
Trying, though, wasn't enough to solve the puzzles Golden State presented this Boston team. The Celtics were able to overcome the problems they gave themselves from a turnover and execution standpoint against the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.