BOSTON — Not yet.
That was the message firmly delivered to the Boston Celtics after the Golden State Warriors battled their way to a lopsided 103-90 victory in Game 6 to claim the 2022 NBA Championship.
As many young talents as there are in Boston, the Celtics were simply too error-prone and streak-prone to deny the Warriors their fourth Larry O’Brien Trophy since 2015.
Never have the Celtics’ problems been more acute than in Thursday’s loss at TD Garden.
Most influential came when, with 3:31 left in the game, Jayson Tatum let a 3-point attempt pass and traveled as the Boston crowd urged him to pull the trigger.
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Tatum, the Celtics’ 24-year-old All-NBA point guard, scored just two second-half points and 13 total on 6-of-18 shooting in a disappointing performance that underscored how much the Celtics have yet to mature. .
“It’s hard to come to this,” Tatum said. “It’s even harder to get over the hump. It’s been a long journey and a long process. That’s what I took away from it. You have to go to another level to do what we want to do.
“I feel like I could have done a lot of things better.”
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Tatum needs to “learn and understand who he is” in the NBA and get used to being challenged by big teams.
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“This is just the beginning of how you’re going to be guarded and how much attention you’re going to get,” Udoka said of Tatum, who also committed five turnovers. “This one was difficult. A very consistent team who did things to limit him. He has to understand that he will see that the rest of his career. He is a very motivated guy who works extremely hard and he will understand that and propel forward.
“We had very motivated guys who didn’t play their best.”
Still, the TD Garden crowd appeared to give the Celtics a boost as Tatum and Jaylen Brown drained 3 points while the offense executed effective post-up strategy to take a 14-2 lead.
Then came the Boston gaffes. The Celtics were sloppy with the ball, a fundamental flaw that surfaced throughout the series. After hitting just four of their first 12 shots, the Warriors hit nine of their next 13 to go on a torrid 21-0 run between the end of the first quarter and well into the second.
The Celtics, who lost control of the series following a Game 4 loss at TD Garden, never regained control of the game.
“They won and we lost,” Brown said after the game. “We did it to ourselves. Of course, we had opportunities to win, but sometimes we showed our immaturity. It stings. Still a young group, a lot to learn. A difficult day for Boston, a tough day for the Celtics.
“It just wasn’t our time.”
The Celtics made a small 7-0 push midway through the second quarter, but the Warriors ended up beating them 52-25 after Boston’s early 14-2 lead to take a 54-39 advantage at halftime. time. The Celtics turned the ball over 13 times in the first half and 23 times for the game; Boston was 1-8 in the playoffs in committing 16 or more turnovers in a game and has reached that mark in all four losses to the Warriors.
“As our turnovers piled up throughout the series,” Udoka said, “you can look at the box score and see if we won or lost based on those numbers. We gave them more than 20 (points) on turnovers and more than 20 on second chances. We didn’t really give ourselves a chance.
Boston was hailed as the deepest team, but their bench failed in Game 6. The Celtics’ bench players posted a combined plus-minus of -67. The Warriors bench was +41 in the first two quarters. The Celtics bench combined for five points in the game.
The Celtics fought back with a 16-4 run to make it a 10-point game late in the third quarter, a run of plays punctuated by a three-point play from Al Horford and a subsequent block at the other end .
Still, the Celtics couldn’t outrun their mistakes. They could not overcome their errors of concentration. They could not outrun the fate of the warriors.
“Every possession has a purpose,” center Robert Williams III said. “The other team in the dressing room recognized it and we didn’t.”
Tatum, 24, along with young comrades Brown, 25, Williams, 24, and others, could lead the Celtics to multiple NBA Finals appearances, but their relative inexperience and propensity for mistakes proved that this group was not ready yet.
“It’s going to hurt and hurt for a while,” Udoka said. “Let it propel us forward with the growth and progress we’ve made this season. A lot of guys in there are very emotional right now. The biggest message has been learning from that and realizing that there is another level to reach.
“Don’t come back the same. Players, coaching staff. Let that fuel you.”
Follow Richard Morin on Twitter @ByRichardMorin.
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