Celtics can benefit from 'chaos' of wild overtime win vs. Warriors

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How Celtics can benefit from 'chaos' of wild OT win vs. Warriors originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

BOSTON -- The lesson from Thursday's NBA Finals rematch between the Celtics and Golden State Warriors is in the eye of the beholder.

On one hand, the Celtics needed overtime to survive a .500 Warriors team that hit just 40 percent of its shots. Jayson Tatum (9 for 27 with a game-high seven turnovers) and Jaylen Brown (16 points on 6 of 18 shooting) continued to look rattled against their 2022 NBA Finals foe, while the C's made several brutal mistakes that nearly cost them the game.

On the other hand, Boston erased an eight-point deficit with just over six minutes to go in regulation, forced overtime on Brown's clutch 3-pointer with 18 seconds remaining and showed impressive resolve to defeat a team that demoralized them last summer.

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So, how should we look at this game? Unsurprisingly, the Celtics took the "glass half full" approach after their 121-118 overtime win at TD Garden.

"Everybody asks, 'What did we learn (from that Finals loss)?'" head coach Joe Mazzulla said after the game. "And I think what we learned is it takes a mindset in order to be successful, and it takes a mindset to be a really, really good team in the NBA.

"It's about the habits that we're growing as far as our mindset, our poise, our physicality, our ability to execute, our ability to handle the chaos of a game."

There was no shortage of chaos Thursday night. On several occasions, the Celtics followed highlight-reel plays with ghastly mistakes, including this Tatum turnover after a clutch Al Horford block late in the fourth quarter.

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The Celtics didn't let the chaos consume them, however, scoring eight of the final 12 points in regulation after Tatum's turnover to force the extra session.

"I'm more of a guy that's like, 'Can we operate in the chaos?'" Mazzulla said. "'Can you make a mistake, and then how quickly can you bounce back from it?'

"Because (mistakes are) going to happen. So, I think if we can just coach the end game in that and coach the response to chaos, I think that can help us."

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This was a game the Celtics would have lost in last year's Finals. So, while it's hard to get too excited about beating an undermanned Warriors team that entered Thursday 5-17 on the road, the victory was nonetheless evidence of their mental growth.

"I really feel like this year we've taken a step as a group being a little more mature handling situations, good or bad," Horford said after the game.

"... We had some huge mistakes down the stretch, end of regulation and overtime. And to be able to overcome that and stay the course, not get down on ourselves and just thinking about the next play, that's what we did.

"I was encouraged to see that from our group. I feel like we've been much better at that this year."

If the Celtics want to raise Banner 18, they need to find a way to win games like this -- games where their superstars can't buy a bucket, the 3-pointers aren't falling and they can't finish at the rim. (Boston shot a brutal 44.1 percent in the paint.)

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In short, they need to overcome chaos. They proved they're capable Thursday night -- while exorcising a few demons in the process.