Celtics must protect the ball better to protect their home court – San Bernardino Suns

Josh Dubow AP Sports Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — If the Boston Celtics are going to protect the home court better than they have been in the past two rounds, they’re going to need to start protecting the ball better.

Sloppy ball-handling once again proved the price to be paid for the Celtics, whose propensity to make mistakes during the playoffs has been a recurring problem. Boston lost 19 times in a 107-88 loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, tying the series.

“It’s as simple as we just have to take care of the ball,” All-Star Jayson Tatum said. “We did it, and when we handled the ball, we were a really good team. But we had some turnovers and we snowballed into a mountain of turnovers and got ourselves into trouble.”

The Celtics shrugged off a turnover in the first half of Game 2 by making 10 of 19 3-pointers to try to distance themselves from the Warriors.

But when shots stopped falling in the third quarter, there were too many turnovers to overcome, and the Celtics went home disappointed despite a Game 1 victory.

“For whatever reason, the series that happened to us before. On our wins, we didn’t turn it over. On our losses, we overturned it,” forward Al Horford said. “It’s something we have to look at this game individually and see how we can get better. I know we can stop a lot of these things, and in order for us to have a better chance of winning, we have to reduce those things.”

The Celtics average nearly four more turnovers per game, resulting in opponents losing nine more points per game than they win.

Boston is 1-5 with at least 16 turnovers this postseason and 12-2 with 15 or fewer turnovers.

The problems started early Sunday night when Boston gave up seven times in the first quarter, leading Golden State to score 13 points to offset a quick shot from the Celtics.

Four more turnovers in the second quarter and five more in the third led to Golden State’s 35-14 win over Boston in the period for 11 more points. The Celtics had one fewer shot than turnover, but coach Ime Udoka pointed to sloppy first half as the main problem.

“We have a chance,” Udoka said. “Come out, jumped out at nine early. Then turnovers started happening. Get them back into the game. Then the offense wasn’t as clear in terms of ball movement and passing. Like I said, we had turnovers in 11 were live ball turnovers, 9 were steals. So gotta do better in that category.”

The culprits were numerous, with five turnovers for Marcus Smart, four for Tatum and three for Derrick White. Horford and Jaylen Brown added two each, as Udoka said his players often look for fouls rather than strong possession.

“It’s a little disappointing for us to drop 33 points on 19 turnovers,” he said. “It’s been a theme in the playoffs. When that happens, we’re in trouble.”

Turnovers aren’t Boston’s only recurring problem in the playoffs, as the Celtics have also struggled to protect their home court.

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