Late-season Celtics swoon is becoming harder to comprehend — and watch

Forsberg: Late-season Celtic slump becoming harder to explain — and watch originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics have become a chore to watch.

The same team that fought through early season adversity to sit atop the NBA with an insanely likable cast of characters now routinely fumbles away double-digit leads and saves some of its most maddening play for key late-game moments.

On Saturday night, while playing the second night of a back-to-back without three starters in Utah, the Celtics kicked away a 19-point lead and blew a couple chances to steal a win in the final seconds. The loss dropped Boston to third place in the Eastern Conference as rivals Milwaukee and Philadelphia have surged ahead while finding their late-season grooves.

Jayson Tatum is slumping. Robert Williams is injured. Much of what ails Boston could be alleviated when either of those two things change. But it hasn’t been pretty while waiting for Tatum to find his typical late-season groove and for Williams to work his way back from a hamstring strain.

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Ever since Williams limped off against Brooklyn on March 3, the Celtics have blown four double-digit leads in head-slapping losses to inferior competition, then went variable intensity while losing to the lowly Rockets as part of this current six-game road trip.

Maybe this is all the more jarring because, a year ago, the Celtics were the ones making a furious second-half surge and carrying their best basketball into the postseason.

This year, we’re left yearning for the team that started the season 21-5 while playing offense at a historic level. Boston is 28-18 since December 10 with an offense that ranks 15th in the NBA.

Even when they hit a first bit of adversity starting with a December loss to Golden State in a Finals rematch, this team still found a way to win ugly. Back on January 21, the Celtics had the best record in basketball, a 4.5-game lead over the 76ers, and a 5.5-game edge over the Bucks.

Story continues

Boston is 14-11 since then and has slipped behind both the Bucks (21-3 in that span) and Sixers…

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Author : NBC Sports Boston

Publish date : 2023-03-19 16:15:00

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Late-season Celtics swoon is becoming harder to comprehend — and watch  
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