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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Celtics fourth quarter collapse cost them the game in Cleveland

Hailey Akau
Illustration Hailey Akau

It finally happened. The Boston Celtics fell apart, snapping their 11-game winning streak as they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in a 104-105 nail-biter on the road after coming off a statement win against the Warriors on Sunday. 

Despite Boston’s 22-point lead in the fourth quarter and a shorthanded Cavs squad, this game came down to the final possession. The deciding factors? A nasty fourth quarter for the C’s featuring a late whistle, a lack of Jayson Tatum, and a red-hot Dean Wade.

Tatum came out hot in the opening half, scoring a game-high 22 points. Then, he went radio silent after halftime and scored just four more.

The Cavs were down 15 late into the third, then won a challenge that took away a free throw attempt for Boston. Though it only saved one potential point, the energy shifted and Cleveland erupted for a 23-4 run to take the lead in the fourth and finished the game on a 34-11 run. From the 8:52 minute mark of the fourth to the 2:34 minute mark, the Cavs made eight consecutive field goals.

Boston got too comfortable in the fourth. With nine minutes remaining, the C’s were up 93-71. Enter Dean Wade, who stepped up in Donovan Mitchell’s absence. The Celtics couldn’t contain him. Wade finished with a team-high 23 points–20 points in the fourth on 7 for 7 shooting, including 5 for 5 from deep.

The Celtics were still in it within the final moments of the game. With 19 seconds left, they trailed by one. Tatum let the clock run before launching a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer, and while he missed, Darius Garland was called for a foul that would have put Tatum at the line. Instead, Cleveland challenged it and the call was overturned which led to a jump ball midcourt with 0.07 seconds on the clock, and thus, game over.

Tatum told reports that he should have gone faster on the last possession.

“They always say the game isn’t won or lost on the last play,” Tatum said in a post-game press conference. “There’s a lot of things that we didn’t do well in that fourth quarter that put us in that position.”

Celtics Head Coach Joe Mazzulla tried to call a timeout with 4.6 seconds remaining, but the refs didn’t see it.

“Down one in that situation, you try to get a couple more possessions and we just have to get into it faster and go faster and try to extend the game,” Mazzulla told reporters.

While the outcome of the game isn’t ideal for the superteam Celtics, who haven’t faced adversity in a month, Kristaps Porzingis believes the loss was good for them.

“I think it’s healthy for us,” Porzingis said. “We do have a feeling that we’re like, we’re going to win every game, we’re invincible. We’re going to win this game. No matter what happens, we’re like, ‘We got this.’ A little bit of that feeling is always there, which may be healthy, but it’s also healthy to get a loss here and there to recalibrate a little bit and have that attention to detail again … I think it’s completely fine and I think it’s necessary for us to keep building.”

Mazzulla had a similar take.

“This is good,” Mazzulla said. “Regardless of whether you win or lose, you take a look at it and a lot of good situational stuff from us, whether it was end of quarters, beginning of quarters, Wade had a great offensive rebound where if we get that it’s a different game, so it’s just small things that give us an opportunity to really work on execution.”

While Porzingis and Mazzulla found the loss to be beneficial, Jaylen Brown expressed frustration post-game.

“Today matters,” Brown said. “Whether everybody wants to throw it away or not, we’ve got to look at the film and address some stuff, because that matters.”

The Celtics are now 18-9 on the season in clutch games and will look to redeem themselves in Denver on Thursday.

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About the Contributor
Rumsha Siddiqui, Sports Editor
Rumsha Siddiqui (she/her) is a journalism major from upstate New York. She currently serves as the Sports Editor and previously served as Staff Writer and Kasteel Well Bureau Chief. Rumsha is passionate about writing about the Boston Celtics and offering commentary and criticism on film, television, and music.

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