Did a grueling second half of the 2021-22 NBA season return to bite the Boston Celtics in the NBA Finals?

You won’t hear any excuses from the Cs after their season ended unceremoniously Thursday night, but a closer look at the numbers shows fatigue definitely could have been a factor.

Key Boston players Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and Al Horford logged nearly 2,000 more minutes than the Golden State Warriors’ “Big Four” of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green.

The Celtics were 18-21 as of Jan. 7, forcing them to keep their foot on the gas for the entire second half of the season. Meanwhile, the Warriors started their season 29-9 and could work their way to a playoff spot. From that point on, the Celtics went 47-20 (including the playoffs) while the Warriors went 40-26.

The following table breaks down the total number of minutes played by the four key players on each team during the regular season and playoffs. It’s worth noting that Curry, Thompson and Green all missed the regular season due to injury.

You can read: Ime Udoka: “It’s going to hurt”

Those numbers indicate Golden State had the freshest legs in the series, but Celtics coach Ime Udoka isn’t convinced physical fatigue cost them a title shot.

“Any time you play a tough seven-game series, there’s going to be some of that,” he said after the Game 6 loss. “We had time off. I think we arrived refreshed, energetic throughout the series.

“I’m sure that’s part of it. Not just mentally but physically, with Rob (Williams) playing through some of the things that he was, in and out of previous series.”

Did fatigue contribute to the Celtics’ downfall? two

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