C’s broke down mentally, physically

Jun. 19 — Los Angeles Lakers pro scout Jeff Nelson thought he was right again – he picked the Celtics in 6 – after they had won Game 3 of the NBA Finals, convincingly.

Nelson, of Bradford, predicted the Celtics series wins over Brooklyn, saying C’s were the much better team, Milwaukee, saying it would be a tough seven-game series, and Miami, saying the Celtics had too many better players and would prevail in seven games .

But then Game 4 happened, with the Celtics squandering a chance to take control of the series in Boston, losing 107-97.

Then it was over.

“I’ve heard people say the Celtics choked and I don’t believe that’s what happened,” Nelson said. “They were fatigued, mentally and physically. They had nothing left. Maybe those seven-game series against Milwaukee and Miami wore them out.”

Obviously, the best player in the series was Steph Curry and he had five big games out of six, by the far the best showing of any player.

What Nelson believes happened, in the end, was the Celtics were exposed at point guard, with Marcus Smart.

“As great of a two-way player is Marcus, and he is a very good player,” Nelson said. “He is not a true point guard and you need a point guard, especially at the end of games, to get you in your offense, get in the lane, set your best players up.

“What ended up happening, in the last three games especially, (Jayson) Tatum and (Jaylen) Brown have the ball, and they end up driving and passing to Smart,” Nelson said. “And Smart was shooting too many threes and big shots at the end of games. You are beating the Warriors with Tatum and Brown making shots, not Smart.”

If the Celtics hadn’t collapsed in Game 4, said Nelson, they probably win in six games.

“The Celtics scored 120 and 116 in the games they won,” Nelson said. “They didn’t break 100 when they lost. You can’t get it done against the Warriors, who were great defensively, scoring 88 and 90 points.”

Nelson believes Tatum’s long year, which included training and playing for the US National team, as well as the regular season NBA grind and 24 playoff games took their toll on the Celtics star.

“Tatum is a star and they can build around him and Brown,” Nelson said. “In the end, the Warriors were the better team. Their bench was better. Peyton Pritchard and Grant Williams were disappointments. More was expected of them. Whereas the Warriors got some big games from Jordan Poole, Gary Payton (III) and (Kevon ) Looney … and Curry was the best player by far. The right team won. “

You can email Bill Burt at bburt@eagletribune.com.

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