Tristan Thompson gives stern message to Celtics despite win over Hawks

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Nick Goss
·3 min read
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Tristan Thompson gives stern message to Celtics despite win vs. Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics earned an impressive victory over the Hawks on Friday night at TD Garden -- just two days after suffering a disappointing loss to Atlanta -- but Tristan Thompson wasn't totally satisfied with his team's performance.

The Celtics had a large lead throughout the game and led 98-73 entering the fourth quarter. Instead of building on that lead and giving head coach Brad Stevens an opportunity to play the younger players much-needed minutes, the C's allowed the Hawks to chip away at the lead. Atlanta outscored Boston 36-23 in the fourth quarter before losing 121-109.

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It wasn't the cleanest close to a game by a Celtics team that's had trouble finishing games this season, and Thompson wasn't happy about how the fourth quarter unfolded.

“Like I said to the guys tonight, it’s a good win, but at the end of the day we’re up 20, 22 points and we've got to close it out,” Thompson said in his postgame video conference with reporters. “Those minutes, the last six minutes, those minutes are supposed to be dedicated to Tremont Waters, Aaron (Nesmith), Tacko Fall, Carsen Edwards. Those last six minutes are supposed to be for those young guys.

“It’s our bad and it’s selfish on our part with the first and second unit that we didn’t stomp on (the Hawks') necks and let them bleed out to death because those guys deserve to go out there and get some minutes. They come in every day and work hard and they watch us and support us from the bench. It’s only right that when we’re up like that we take care of business so they can go out there and play and we cheer them on.”

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Thompson is a 10-year veteran and the only player on the Celtics roster who's won an NBA championship. His experience is valuable, and it's good for the Celtics that he's giving the team these kinds of messages. 

The Celtics need more depth, and one way to improve that is developing the team's younger players. There could be a playoff game (or multiple) where, for whichever reason, someone like Nesmith, Waters or Edwards will need to come in and contribute offensively. If they haven't been given enough opportunities during the regular season, the chances of these players' thriving in a pressure-packed role will be slim.

There's also the issue of the Celtics closing games. Boston is just 6-5 in matchups decided by five points or less. The C's have blown plenty of leads, too, even in games they've ultimately won. 

The best teams, the ones that compete for championships in June, are able to close games and not give opponents any semblance of hope in the fourth quarter. The Celtics still have work to do before becoming that kind of team.