Boston Celtics

Horford: Celtics ‘definitely have to be better' in crunch time

Despite a few recent slip-ups, the Celtics still have the fewest blown leads across the NBA.

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The Boston Celtics managed to return home from a six-game road trip with four wins, with both losses coming at the hands of the Atlanta Hawks in crunch time. Between a blown 30-point lead and a buzzer-beater in overtime, Celtics veteran Al Horford knows the team needs to improve in late-game situations.

"We definitely have to be better in those moments," Horford said of their late-game execution. "Continuing to play to our strengths and making sure that we are taking advantage of everything that we have."

After taking a 30-point lead against the Hawks last Monday, the Celtics let Atlanta battle their way back in the second half, being outscored 64-44 to lose the game. Boston followed up that performance by losing on a Dejounte Murray buzzer-beater with just 0.1 left in the OT period.

"We definitely learned from that," Horford added. "[We are] looking to be better, and tonight we'll have an opportunity to continue to get better at working on the things we need to do."

The Celtics' late-game execution has been a cause for concern over the past few seasons, but as head coach Joe Mazzulla pointed out last week, there has been "drastic" improvement. Boston actually has the fewest blown leads across the league at 14, with just eight being by 10 or more points. 

Horford only played in the first of the two losses against his former team, posting seven points, a team-high nine rebounds, two assists, a steal, and a block.

Boston will look to prove it has learned from its losses as it takes on the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Wednesday night, where it can clinch the NBA's best record with a win in what could be an early Finals preview.

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