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Everything Now Comes Down To Sunday

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Six

Well last night was a bit disappointing, I think we can all agree there. We can’t act all that surprised given how the Celtics have looked on the road this series, but to me that’s still not really excuse. As far as I’m concerned the Celtics blew their first opportunity to make the NBA Finals by doing all the things they know they shouldn’t do. You know what I’m talking about, the lack of defense, the pathetic rebounding effort, the missed FTs and the careless turnovers. This was not like Game 3 where the Cavs came out and simply ran you out of the gym. The Celtics lost this game because

A) Lebron is a goddamn monster

B) They couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot

So while the loss isn’t all that shocking, it is very much in my opinion the most frustrating loss we’ve seen all series. I will say in typical Celtics fashion they didn’t quit, and had an opportunity late to make it a 2 possession game, but as we’ve learned, one bad quarter is all it takes. To make the NBA Finals, and to do it by getting past Lebron James, you have to be nearly perfect in all areas. Unfortunately, the Celtics were anything but.

Good news though, there is still one more game to be played. The Celtics never had to win a game on the road this series in order to move on and now they officially won’t. There is comfort in knowing we are headed back to the TD Garden, but I’ll say this. If we get the exact same execution in Game 7 that we got in Game 6 it won’t matter where the game is played. With that said, let’s get started.

The Good

– One of the most frustrating parts of this whole thing was the wasting of both Jaylen and Terry’s performances. We’ll start with Terry because right from the jump you could tell he was showing up on the offensive end, something that we hadn’t really seen all series

He finished with 28/3/7 on 10-16 shooting (6-10 from deep) and had just 1 TO in his team high 39:45. On the offensive end he was not only the best player, but also one of the few that didn’t seem phased by the moment. I know most of us were nervous every time he went up to take a three, but Rozier is showing us that confidence that makes him who he is as a player. I thought this was as close to a Kyrie-Lite performance as we’ve gotten all series, and he’s going to have to play with that same energy tomorrow night.

While the points are nice, I continue to care most about Terry taking care of the basketball. When he plays in control like he did last night, we don’t see those careless turnovers. We don’t see him trying to do too much and he lets his production come within the flow of the game. Oh and he made his layups for the most part which is always nice.

– Equally as frustrating was wasting the performance of Jaylen Brown

Jaylen finished with 27 points on 11-18 shooting and is another guy that did not look remotely afraid of the moment. He was aggressive, and I’ll keep pounding this point home because I believe in it so much. When Jaylen attacks and builds his confidence through easy baskets, he becomes a completely different offensive force. This shot chart is the perfect balance for him in my opinion

Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 9.59.38 AM

The reason the Celtics finally didn’t have a god awful start to this game was solely due to Jaylen Brown. He had a huge 15 points on 6-8 shooting in his opening 8:22, and that allowed the Celtics to appear as if they were heading in the right direction. For those wondering, Jaylen is averaging 20.8/4.7/1.7 on 47/40% splits with 2.3 3PM this series. By far his best series of this entire playoffs. Hard not to love that development.

– He started slow, and we’ll talk more about that in a bit, but Jayson Tatum did come alive in the second half

He was efficient as well going 7-13 from the field, and given that he started just 1-4 that’s pretty good. He also made the most FGs in the second half with 6, and I think we’ll see a MUCH more involved Tatum tomorrow to start the game. He’s proving to be a legit matchup problem for the Cavs, and now with their backs against the wall the Celtics cannot forget that.

– It’s pretty crazy that the Celtics went 58.3/54.5% in the second half and still couldn’t break 100 points. Their offense looked so much better after the break, with Smart and Terry doing a much better job of getting others involved, and the Celts finally found a way to limit their TOs. You may notice a trend with these games in CLE in that the Celtics always do end up figuring it out, it’s just not quite enough to make up for their earlier mistakes. Crazy that once we finally saw this team not kill itself with stupid mistakes, that they actually can hang around with this Cavs team.

– I’ll take 25 assists on 38 baskets every day of the week and ESPECIALLY on Sunday.

The Bad

– OK, where do we begin. I say we start on the defensive end, because lord knows that was quite a disaster. It’s hard to find one player that honestly played well defensively, you can see for yourself

Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 9.19.21 PM

I mean no joke, their best defenders played like complete dogshit on that end of the floor. The Celtics cannot win if they get subpar defensive efforts from Morris/Horford/Smart/Jaylen/Tatum/Rozier/Baynes aka their entire rotation. This game was a great example of why I put so much focus on defense and rebounding. A lot of people talk about their inability to score as to why they might struggle, and I couldn’t disagree more. The Celtics shot 51.4%/43% in this game and made more 3s than the Cavs, and it did not matter one bit. Why? Because they couldn’t stop a nosebleed on the other end.

This isn’t even so much about Lebron because we know you can’t stop him. It’s about everyone else. Someone explain to me why Smart/Rozier could not stop George Hill? Terry had him on 27 possessions and he went 3-5. Smart only had him for 9 possessions which doesn’t feel like enough given how bad he was killing you. The same could be said about Jeff Green. So what now all of the sudden Jaylen/Tatum/Morris can’t stop Jeff fucking Green? Inexcusable.

As was the defensive effort from Al Horford. Look there are times when Al’s FGA isn’t going to be where we want because he’s going to be doubled and has to pass out of it. But that in no way should effect his ability to defend, and he was no where to be found in this pretty important game. Opponents shot 6-10 against Al and that’s where things really hurt you. Forget all about his offense, the one thing we cannot have from Horford on Sunday is a night where he is a huge negative on the defensive end. It doesn’t happen often, but last night was one of those nights.

– The other thing I always focus on is rebounding. The Celtics have not won a game this series where they haven’t won the rebounding battle. Guess what, they got demolished in Game 6. Not only did they lose the overall battle 44-31, but they allowed 15 OREB for 18 big CLE points. You think that may have been the difference? Baynes only played 4 minutes in the second half for whatever reason, and this was a case where the Celtics just either did not box someone out, or they were too lazy to even give an effort. I don’t know how many times we have to see it, but this is the lifeblood of the Cavs. Thompson and Nance Jr and Jordan Clarkson all had huge impacts on the offensive glass, and when you do that you’re asking to have a result like we saw last night. It’s so goddamn frustrating.

– In their last two games in CLE the Celtics have lost just 2 quarters. They did not win either games.

– OK let’s do the math. The Celts gave up 18 second chance points, and 7 points off TOs. To me that equals 25 points the Celtics gifted the Cavs. On what planet is that a good idea?

– I know I touched on Al just a second ago, but I feel like we need to revisit it just for a second. I’m pretty sure this was the worst we’ve seen him play all season, and 6 points is not nearly enough we all agree on that. My problem was not just the 2-8 he ended the night with, but how he was used from the beginning. As soon as Love went out, I was expecting the Celtics to really use Horford in his sweet spots. I know the Cavs couldn’t go big anymore and maybe that’s why Baynes didn’t play, but I would have kept that the same just so Horford could have had more mismatches. I mean look at this shot chart Screen Shot 2018-05-26 at 10.28.27 AM

That is not getting the most out of what Horford gives you. Giving him the ball 26ft from the basket at the end of the shot clock is not how you use him. Where were the P&Rs with Smart? Where were the post ups? Where was the cutting? In a game they really needed their All Star player, the Celts really didn’t do all that much to put him in a position of success. Now part of this is on Al too, he was not the same sort of aggressive Al we’ve seen at times this series but it all factors in. Then you add in how he couldn’t keep anyone off the glass and it was a complete disaster. He vowed to be better on Sunday, and if he’s not then it’s a wrap.

– Point blank, this team needs good Mook. Can’t be having him not play defense and miss layups like he did. Can’t have it.

The Ugly

– I’d like to say I’m surprised the Celtics blew this shit in the 2nd quarter, but it’s not exactly a new concept for this group. The numbers are pretty maddening, whether it’s the 30/33% splits with 6 TOs and just 4 FGM, or the fact that CLE shot 52.2%/50% and dropped 34 points it’s all the same bullshit. Each game in CLE it’s basically been 1 really bad quarter that has done the Celtics in, and I want to focus on one stretch in particular.

With 10:12 left in the 2nd quarter Marcus Smart made this three to put the Celtics up by 6.

Over the next 6 minutes the Celtics made just 1 other FG (Terry 3PM) and had this sort of run

Baynes TO

Morris offensive foul

Smart missed 30fter

Horford missed layup

Baynes missed 30fter

Jaylen missed layup

Smart TO

Morris TO

Morris missed layup

Morris missed floater

Terry made 3PM

So you’re telling me that turnovers, missed layups, and 30ft threes didn’t work out? That’s where my anger lies. They had the formula in just the first quarter and yet their shot selection and decision making somehow goes to shit. When Lebron made his three to go up 34-33 with 8:06 left in the game, it was never tied at any point after that. Having awful stretches like that is a big reason why.

– I joke on Twitter all the time about this but I’m not really joking. If the Celtics make their FTs, this is an entirely different ballgame. And I get it, they can’t always be perfect, but you tell me how a team that went like 22-24 in Game 5 can all the sudden go 11-20 in Game 6. If Jaylen misses one OK, he sneaky stinks, but Horford missing 2, Morris 2, Smart 1 and Jaylen 3 is so maddening. I have no patience for when our good FT shooters are missing FTs. So yeah, I would say that their inability to convert at the line played a significant role in this game, and that is inexcusable.

– We now have to deal with Game 7 Lebron. Awesome.

We know the Celtics refuse to make things easy on themselves, and last night was no different. They had their chance to send this team home and punch their ticket to the Finals, and instead we now have to stress the fuck out for the next two days basically about this Game 7. I have no idea what to think. I want to trust what we’ve seen from the Celtics at home, but I also know law of averages is probably going to come into play at some point. I know that Lebron doesn’t give a shit where he plays, and is just as comfortable putting up a monster night in BOS as he is in CLE. Could a CLE role player have a prayer night shooting the ball? Can the Celtics stop playing like assholes? I don’t know, and I’m sick to my stomach about it. Such is life as a Celtics fan, this is how we live.

One game for all the marbles. Let’s dance. Screen Shot 2018-05-25 at 8.49.07 PM