Coach Doc Rivers suggested that the Celtics' lack of trust in one another on the offensive end during the second half of Tuesday's 97-90 loss to the Denver Nuggets played the biggest role in Boston's defeat.
After a strong first half in which the Celtics shot over 51 percent from the field and showed consistent ball movement, they went back to individual play over the final two quarters, which led to a more stagnant offense that wasn't able to keep up with the surging Nuggets.
"At the end of the day, I thought we didn't trust each other tonight offensively," Rivers said. "And that happens. We haven't done that lately, but I thought, starting in the beginning of the third every single guy was just trying to make plays. And that's because they wanted to win, but I didn't think we trusted each other at all tonight. I thought we did a poor job of establishing Kevin, and that was one of our focal points going into the game, and we just didn't do a very good job of it."
After holding the Nuggets to 46.3 percent shooting during the first half and carrying a 50-49 lead into the break, the Celtics saw Denver rally in the third frame to the tune of 29 points on 9-of-17 shooting (52.9 percent) to take a 78-70 advantage going into the fourth quarter. Boston tied the game at 84 with 5:37 remaining, but the Nuggets went on a 13-6 run to close it.
The Celtics shot just 36.1 percent during the second half, with only Jeff Green (season-high 20 points) converting more than two shots over the final 24 minutes.
Rivers said the trust issue shouldn't linger for his team since it hasn't been the norm.
"We trust each other. We've been great," Rivers said. "We just didn't do it tonight. We were doing it in the first half and we just got away from it. Really, it's on me. I've got to try to get them back into it and I never could. I called a couple timeouts and tried to remind us that we've got fives guys and let's play with five. I thought everybody came into this game really wanting to win it and that may have gotten in our way, quite honestly. I thought each guy wanted to win it instead of trusting the team."
The Celtics won't have to wait long to redeem themselves, as they will take on the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.