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NBA Finals: Charles Barkley calls out Celtics for 'embarrassing' and 'unprofessional' performance in Game 4

Boston's 38-point defeat was the third-biggest loss in Finals history


  • Jun 15 2024
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 NBA Finals: Charles Barkley calls out Celtics for 'embarrassing' and 'unprofessional' performance in Game 4
NBA Finals: Charles Barkley calls out Celtics for 'embarrassing' and 'unprofessional' performance in Game 4
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The Boston Celtics had a chance to close out the NBA Finals and sweep the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night, but they never even got close. After falling behind in the middle of the first quarter, they trailed the rest of the way, and were down by as many as 48 points before losing 122-84. 

During the post-game broadcast, a disappointed Charles Barkley -- who also announced that he will retire at the end of next season -- called out the Celtics for an "embarrassing" and "unprofessional" performance. The Celtics' 38-point defeat was the third-largest in Finals history. 

"We said if the Celtics come out just jacking up jumpers, going through the motions, Dallas has a chance," Barkley said. "And once they got their momentum going -- I'm not gonna give any diss to the Mavs, congratulations, good win, but that was embarrassing by the Celtics. They actually thought the Mavs were gonna quit. They came out nonchalant, lackadaisical.

"Me and Steve [Smith] said, if Jaylen and Jayson are going downhill -- I think the first quarter they shot like 12 3s out of their first 15-20 shots, and they missed them and then Luka got going, Kyrie got going and also all the Mavs' role players. If you're the Celtics, and obviously I still feel very good about them winning the series, but that was so unprofessional the way they played that game tonight."

It's hard to argue with Barkley's assessment. While the Celtics' 3-point ratio wasn't quite as high as Barkley suggested, six of their first eight shots were 3s, and they took nine in the first quarter. The bigger issue, though, was that the Mavericks had more intensity and fight from the opening tip. 

For whatever reason, the Celtics were never able to match the Mavericks' desperation. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said the Mavericks played "harder" than his team, and veteran big man Al Horford agreed. "They were the better team," Horford said. "They were the team that played harder. [Mazzulla is] right."

If the Celtics want to close things out on their home floor on Monday night and win their first title since 2008, they'll need to flip the script. They'll also need to make some shots. During the regular season, they boasted the most efficient offense in league history (122.2 offensive rating), but they shot just 36.2% from the field in Game 4 and scored 0.875 points per possession -- their least efficient single game since the second game of the 2021-22 season. 

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