The Celtics lose a 22-point lead in fourth place, ending their 11-game winning streak

CLEVELAND — For three quarters Tuesday night, the Boston Celtics were in cruise control.

And then, in the blink of an eye, their 22-point fourth-quarter lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers was gone. After Jayson Tatum missed a long shot and the Cavaliers turned over a foul on Darius Garland on the play, Cleveland came away with a stunning 105-104 victory, snapping Boston's league-leading 11-game winning streak.

“I think we're a much better team than we showed today,” Jaylen Brown said afterward. “Today was just a mental loss.

“We went into the game and then we got comfortable, so it was more about the mentality than the To the match.

“Our mentality was a little lax, and we were very careless with the ball. We weren't intentional in attacking. We allowed players to get into tendencies that we were supposed to get away with. We gave up offensive rebounds, things like that.” “It all just comes with the mentality.”

For much of the game, none of these things seemed like they would matter. Boston made 50% of its threes through the first three quarters, and had a comfortable 16-point lead heading into the fourth quarter — which swelled to 22 points when Tatum nailed a layup for a 93-71 lead with 9 minutes left. – He was playing for a Cleveland team that entered the game without Donovan Mitchell and Max Strus due to knee problems and lost Evan Mobley due to an ankle sprain late in the third period.

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Then the fourth quarter happened. Boston went 0-for-8 from deep, while Cavaliers forward Dean Wade went 5-for-5 from deep and 7-for-7 from the field — including a crucial layup with 19.1 seconds left on a missed shot by Garland. – Where he outscored the Celtics 20-17 in the final frame.

“The rank is very high,” Wade said with a smile when asked where this ranks among his personal accomplishments. “Very high. … It felt good. The edge seemed really big.”

This offensive rebound was something Celtics coach Joe Mazzola brought up several times in his postgame media session, along with several other mental mistakes and unforced errors Boston made down the stretch.

“We gave up offensive rebounds at the end of the shot clock when we were winning,” Mazzola said. “I think in these situations, they become a little sharper and pay more attention to detail. But we made mistakes in the backcourt before and it didn’t hurt us because [it was a] Different time of the game. These are the same situations that happened. They're just at a critical time. So this is good awareness for them.”

Then there was the final play of the game, after Wade's toss. Mazzola initially didn't call a timeout, and Tatum sent the ball into the frontcourt, then had Derrick White pick him out for the undersized Garland to switch on, before settling for a tough backflip down the right side of the lane. Which has been missing for a long time.

It looked like Tatum (15-for-46 in clutch situations this season) would be bailed out when Garland was called for a foul. But Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff challenged the call and it was overturned, with crew chief Zach Zarba later telling a pool reporter that the contact Garland made on Tatum's leg was because Tatum was kicked out, and was therefore an inadvertent call.

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“I knew the leg kick was kind of in play,” Garland said. “My leg still kind of hurts, so I'm glad it turned around.”

Tatum had a different explanation, though he also admitted he should have gotten into the play quicker, rather than waiting for the final shot. Mazzola said he tried to call a timeout with just under 5 seconds to go but the referees never saw it.

“It was unfortunate,” Tatum, who went 1-for-9 in the quarter, said of the final possession. “I thought I was fouled…but they always say a game's not won or lost on the last play. There's a lot of things we didn't do well in the fourth quarter that put us in that position.”

He wasn't wrong. Boston made eight without a score from 3 in the fourth quarter and tied for the most without a score in a quarter by a Celtics team this season, and it was only the fourth time this season that Boston did not make a 3 in a quarter. The 17 points scored were the team's fewest in the fourth quarter of this season, and the Celtics were ahead by 17 points, their worst point difference in the fourth quarter this season.

After seeing their league winning streak snapped, and heading into a potential NBA Finals preview against the Denver Nuggets on Thursday night, Brown said it's important to look at this as a lesson on what not to do.

“Today is important,” Brown said. “Whether everyone wants to get rid of him or not, we have to watch film and address some things, because this is important. Your habits are everything. Your mentality is everything. And in every game, you can't waste any possessions, you can't waste any time out there on the floor.” .

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“So, today is important. We need to look into that.”

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