Boston Celtics

Tatum, Mazzulla identify key factor in Celtics' loss to Clippers

The Celtics shot just 25 percent from 3-point range vs. the Clippers.

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The Boston Celtics shot lights out in a 143-110 win over the Miami Heat on Thursday. Unfortunately for the C's, that hot shooting turned ice cold Saturday night against the Los Angeles Clippers.

The C's shot 36 percent (36-of-100) from the field and just 25 percent (10-of-40) from 3-point range in a 115-96 loss at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum (21 points) was the only Celtics starter who scored in double figures. Al Horford and Derrick White combined to shoot 0-of-13. Jaylen Brown scored eight points on 3-of-13 shooting. Celtics starters only scored 38 points as a group, well below their season average of 92.8 per game (No. 1 in the NBA).

The Celtics have done a pretty good job this season of not letting poor offense negatively impact their defense. That wasn't the case versus the Clippers.

"I thought tonight was one of our first games where our poor offense affected our defense," Celtics head coach Joe Mazzulla told NBC Sports Boston's Abby Chin postgame. "We gave up 20 points in transition in the first half on a combination of live-ball turnovers, not getting 50-50 balls, and then either missing a shot and not crashing at the proper angle, or not finishing at the rim.

"Over the course of time, if you continue to play inefficient offense, it takes a toll on your defense. Once that happened, our defense waned. But credit to them, the Clippers played a real well-balanced game."

Tatum had a similar view on what went wrong for the Celtics.

"Unfortunately, we let our offense affect our defense, and they got a lot of leak-outs and easy baskets in transition," he told reporters in his postgame press conference.

What caused the Celtics' to play so inefficiently on offense?

"I thought they did a good job of messing up the timing of every one of our passes with their active hands," Mazzulla said in his postgame presser.

"So what looked like a guy open, we missed it by a half-second because of their activity and their active hands, and it kinda messed up the timing and rhythm of our offense, especially when we got into the paint. But we just missed shots, and I thought they played well."

It's important not to overreact too much to one game. It was just a month ago that the Celtics dominated the Clippers with a 37-point win in Los Angeles.

There are going to be times over the course of an 82-game season when shots just don't fall, even if the C's are getting open looks. But what can't happen, regardless of whether shots are falling, is letting bad offense negatively impact the defense. The defensive effort has to remain consistent, especially against top-tier teams like the Clippers.

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