Celtics-Warriors takeaways: Old habits doom C's in Finals-ending loss originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
After 106 games, 65 wins and an NBA Finals berth, the Celtics’ 2021-22 campaign is over.
The Golden State Warriors overcame a slow start to seize Game 6 of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden on Thursday night, capitalizing on 22 Boston turnovers to earn a 103-90 victory that clinched their fourth championship in eight seasons.
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While Golden State cemented its legacy as the most successful team of the 21st century, the Celtics will head to the offseason lamenting three consecutive NBA Finals losses that erased their 2-1 series lead.
Stephen Curry scored a team-high 34 points for the Warriors, earning his first-ever NBA Finals MVP award in the process. Jaylen Brown paced Boston with 34 points of his own, while Al Horford added 19 points and 14 rebounds.
Jayson Tatum mustered just 13 points on 6 of 18 shooting in an elimination-game performance he'd like to forget.
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Here are our takeaways from the Celtics' last loss of the season in their last home game of the season:
Warriors evaporate Boston's hot start
Believe it or not, the Celtics were in a very good place after the first four minutes.
Boston jumped out to a 14-2 advantage behind a trio of threes from Tatum and Brown and appeared very much ready for the moment.
The Warriors withstood the early barrage, however -- then completely turned the tables on the Celtics.
Golden State ripped off a 21-0 run — the longest in an NBA Finals game in 50 years — sparked by a rare Draymond Green 3-pointer, a Curry triple and a Jordan Poole banked three from well beyond the arc.
That massive surge transformed a 22-16 Celtics lead into a 37-22 deficit two minutes into the second quarter, stunning the TD Garden crowd.
Mixed results for Boston's stars
Tatum dropped 46 points in a must-win Game 6 in the second round, but this Game 6 was a very different story.
While Brown kept Boston in striking distance with several key shots down the stretch, Tatum was an offensive non-factor late with just two points in the second half.
Perhaps Tatum is still bothered by a right shoulder injury, or perhaps he was just gassed after a grueling season. But the bottom line is that the Celtics' best player couldn't deliver when it mattered Thursday night, capping a relatively underwhelming Finals in which he shot just 35 percent from the floor.
On a positive note, Brown arguably was the Celtics' most effective scorer in this series and emerged as a legitimate No. 2 player on a championship contender (despite his turnover woes).
Boston's No. 1 has some work to do this offseason, however.
Celtics' Achilles heel exposed one final time
Turnovers have been the Celtics' downfall throughout the postseason, and their inability to hold onto the ball may have cost them a title.
Boston committed a whopping 12 turnovers in the first half alone, and the Warriors turned them into instant offense on the other end to fuel their mid-game surge.
The Celtics went 13-2 this postseason when they committed fewer than 15 turnovers but just 1-8 when they had 16 or more. Only one team in the NBA (the Houston Rockets) averaged more than 15 turnovers per game this season, so the C's simply needed to be average in the turnover department to have a chance.
Instead, Golden State's aggressive defense forced Boston to let a championship literally slip from their grasp.
Has anyone seen the Celtics' bench?
Remember when Grant Williams scored 21 points in a Game 7 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks?
That seems like a lifetime ago, as Williams and the Celtics' bench went MIA over the last two Finals games.
Boston's three primary reserves — Williams, Derrick White and Payton Pritchard — combined for just five points on 2 of 10 shooting, laying another collective egg after totaling four points 1 on 9 shooting in Game 5.
Meanwhile, the Warriors' bench trio of Jordan Poole (15 points), Gary Payton II (six points, three steals) and Kevon Looney (six offensive rebounds) all contributed in meaningful ways.
The Celtics needed better efforts from core players like Tatum and Marcus Smart (nine points). But the bench's lack of execution has a trickle-down effect, placing the full burden on a Boston starting group that looked fatigued at points in Games 5 and 6.
Expect secondary scoring to be a key area of focus for president of basketball operations Brad Stevens this offseason after the Celtics' bench was outscored 52-9 in Games 5 and 6 combined.