Celtics searching for answers as slide continues

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The Boston Celtics woke up on Feb. 29 feeling great about the state of their season. They sat tied in the loss column with the Toronto Raptors for second place in the Eastern Conference, and they had won 14 of their past 17 games.

“That’s the hardest part about the NBA … that’s just the way it goes.”

The way it’s going now for the Celtics is that they can’t do anything right here at home. In those four losses — to the Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets, Utah Jazz and the Thunder — the Celtics held a double-digit lead in each that they let slip away, including the three biggest leads (21 points against Brooklyn, 18 against Oklahoma City and 17 against Houston) that they let get away all season.nfl nike jerseys cheap

So rather than maintain the pace they had set over the prior several weeks, which had launched them into a head-to-head race with Toronto for that coveted second seed in the East, the Celtics instead find themselves closer to the Miami Heat in fourth (two losses ahead) than the Raptors in second (three losses behind).1

“We obviously have stuff to work on,” said Gordon Hayward, who returned from a right knee contusion that had sidelined him for the prior two games and led the Celtics with 25 points. “I think as individuals, as a team, we have to try to not get too high on the highs or too low on the lows, and this is a low for us.nike nfl jerseys for cheap

It had appeared Boston had managed to do just that when, after a rough sequence that saw Jayson Tatum and Walker both blow layups and Marcus Smart lose the ball on a drive for one on three straight possessions, Hayward made a beautiful pass to Daniel Theis for a dunk, followed by Tatum blocking a Dennis Schroder shot to kick-start a fast break that culminated in a Tatum layup to give Boston a 104-103 lead.

But after Thunder center Steven Adams missed two foul shots and, after getting the offensive rebound, Chris Paul missed a potential go-ahead bucket, the Celtics had the ball out of bounds with a chance to ice the game at the free throw line.

However, that would have required the Celtics to get there. After Smart inbounded the ball to Walker, he got caught in a world-class trap by Paul and Schroder, who stole the ball and laid it in to put Oklahoma City back in front with 8.5 seconds to go.