Forsberg: Celtics need more ‘creativity' in late-game situations

Forsberg: Celtics need more ‘creativity' in late-game situations originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics must fix a potentially fatal flaw ahead of the 2024 NBA playoffs.

Especially as of late, the C's have struggled mightily in late-game situations. They blew a 30-point lead and lost by two against the Atlanta Hawks on Monday. In Thursday's rematch vs. Atlanta, they allowed a game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime and lost on a Dejounte Murray game-winner with 0.1 left on the clock.

These crunch-time woes aren't a new development for Boston. As our Chris Forsberg noted on Friday's Early Edition, the Celtics have an uninspiring record this season when trailing late in games.

"I think what's concerning is that especially in games where they're trailing in the last minute -- I think they're 4-11 when they've trailed in the final minute by one possession. That just shows me that they get a little tight, that they haven't consistently come through on shots," Forsberg said. "And so, I do think it's something they've got to get better at.

"You can tell me that there's gonna be games they're gonna win by 20. We know that. Like, they're that good. But most playoff games boil down to a couple of possessions and you've got to be better there. You saw the play in overtime where it goes to (Kristaps) Porzingis first, Jayson (Tatum) cuts, draws a defender with him, and all of a sudden Jaylen (Brown) at least gets a better look than what they've manufactured otherwise. So I do think it tells you, you don't need to necessarily have the ball in Jayson's hands. There's ways to utilize all the talent you have on the court."

In Thursday's defeat, Tatum missed what would have been the game-winner at the end of regulation. The five-time All-Star is now 0-for-6 this season on "buzzer beater" attempts taken in the final five seconds with a chance to tie or take the lead.

While it's understandable to want the ball in the best player's hands for the last shot, Forsberg wants to see some creativity from head coach Joe Mazzulla in these situations going forward.

"I need Derrick White with the ball in his hands more in those situations," Forsberg added. "I need, like, Derrick-Kristaps Porzingis pick and rolls where the Jays are working away from the ball. I just need more creativity. And I don't know, like, some Celtics fans will tell you they're just stashing it all for the playoffs. Maybe Joe's not showing the full repertoire.

"Again, I go back to it, I just can't believe how many times in the past two months we've gone -- 19 dribbles in Cleveland, 23 dribbles for Jaylen the other night in the first Atlanta game when no one was moving. Twenty-eight dribbles between the two possessions last night for Tatum. I don't know why they haven't figured that out but they've got to go quick, there's got to be movement, there's got to be action. And if that ends with Jayson Tatum having the ball, then so be it."

You can hear everything Forsberg had to say about the Celtics' late-game woes in the video below:

Boston has nine regular-season games left to clean things up. It'll look to snap its two-game skid -- just its third losing streak of the season -- when it visits the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday evening.

Celtics-Pelicans is set for a 5 p.m. ET opening tip right here on NBC Sports Boston. Coverage begins with Celtics Pregame Live at 4 p.m. ET.