- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- After losing Rajon Rondo to a season-ending injury in late January, the Celtics' turnover rate surprisingly dipped. Not surprisingly, those lack of giveaways were a primary reason for Boston's ability to surge even without their All-Star point guard.
But during this current five-game losing streak, turnovers have been a major problem for the Celtics. Boston turned the ball over 20 times on Tuesday night during a 100-85 loss to the Knicks, which aided New York in taking a staggering 21 more shots than Boston during the game.
Over these last five games, Boston's turnover percentage has leaped nearly three percent above its season average to 18 percent, which would easily be the worst in the league if maintained (Houston turns the ball over a NBA-worst 16.6 percent of the time). The Celtics simply are not good enough right now with all their injuries and inconsistencies to shoot themselves in the foot.
"[Turnovers] kill us, especially now," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "Listen, if you’re not going to rebound and then you turn the ball over, you’re just saying that you’re going to lose the game. And that’s what that was [Tuesday]. But over the last five games, our turnovers have been up."
And why is that number up?
"I think we’re trying to do too much," said Rivers. "I think our spacing was horrendous [Tuesday] and that’s something I have to work on with our guys."
Added captain Paul Pierce: "Some of it is overpassing, some of it is rushing. Some of it is trying to maybe force things a little bit. Some of it may be chemistry, putting different lineups out there, trying to understand where certain guys are going to be. That’s another thing we have to figure out. We’re not forcing as many turnovers either. We have to get back to playing with more energy, forcing a lot of turnovers, like we were three [or] four weeks ago. Turning the ball over less, see if we’re going to give ourselves a chance."
The Knicks didn't take full advantage of Boston's turnovers, parlaying those 20 giveaways into a mere 17 points. But opponents' points off turnovers has spiked overall in this five-game stretch, jumping to 18.8 points per game, up nearly two points from a season average of 16.9.
Leave it to Jeff Green to offer a simple solution for Boston's ball-handling woes: "Don't turn it over. Take care of the ball."