Celtics’ maturity is evident in this possible Finals preview against the Nuggets.

Despite the cold night outside, the Celtics maintained their defensive stance, found ways to win by small margins, and almost overcame the reigning champions.

It didn’t matter how good their process was—whether it was driving and kicking, making the extra pass, or what came from pushing for an offensive rebound—the Celtics couldn’t seem to shoot their way on Friday.


In the Boston Celtics’ 102–100 loss, the visitors made a lot of good shots, but they were unable to convert any of them into points in their first loss at TD Garden of the year.

The Celtics shot a dismal 42.7 percent from the floor, including 14/44 (31.8 percent) from beyond the arc, paced by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s combined 15/43 shooting. Proper spacing, a team-oriented strategy, and efficient ball movement simply resulted in one miss after another.

Head coach Joe Mazzulla said after his club, which is still top in the NBA with a 32-10 record, lost to 20-1 on its parquet. “They moved the ball pretty well, got some good looks, just — they didn’t go down when they needed to.”


However, the Celtics showed maturity by not letting their poor shooting performance detract from their offensive strategy or their concentration and effort on defense.

That was demonstrated by Boston, who limited the reigning champions to 8/31 (25.8 percent) from three-point range while only committing three turnovers, forcing 11, and turning those into a 17-2 lead in points off turnovers. For the hosts to maintain a steady offensive and a close score, each was essential.

When the Celtics had a frigid shooting night like this one previous season, it usually got to their heads and undermined them defensively. It was a common occurrence in competition losses.500 or less.


But even as the misses mounted on Friday night against the reigning champions, they remained true to their tenacity, their selflessness, and their ability to stay locked in.


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