Listen, I don’t ask for much. I fully understand these games don’t count and that it’d be silly to make any concrete conclusions for how the Celtics will look starting in a couple weeks, but I expect better than what we’ve gotten through three preseason games. Just because the games are fake doesn’t mean I can just ignore them and accept horrific basketball, because make no mistake that is what the Celtics have given us so far. It’s not a talent issue, as only Kyrie didn’t play, it’s not a chemistry issue as only Hayward didn’t play with this group last year, so I’m sorry, I have to call a spade a spade. The Celtics are playing basketball like a bunch of assholes. Their body language looks AWFUL, and frankly if this doesn’t bother you then I don’t even want to know you. You can’t be talking Finals and being the best team in the East and then get dick stomped by a LeBron-less Cavs team. I don’t care when it happens, whether it’s Summer League, preseason, the regular season, playoffs, whenever. The Celts have looked like a Lottery team on both ends so far, and again DO NOT FREAK OUT and ask yourself if it’s time to worry, also don’t be naive. There are things this team has to fix and do MUCH better starting in 13 days.
As you know, we don’t just blog when things rule, we face the music when things are brutal. With that said, let’s begin.
– You are out of your mind if you think we are starting anywhere other than the best Celtic on the floor last night. I find it interesting that Yabu played 0 minutes in the first half and the Celtics found themselves down 19. He then started and played 19 minutes in the second half and wouldn’t you know it, was the most impactful player on the roster with a +15. Sure he didn’t score a point, but that just solidifies his dominance, because he gave us plays like this
To be honest I’m not sure what else Brad needs to see to give this man legit rotation minutes. Not only is he instant energy, but he also had a +46.5 net rating and a legit 83.8 Drtg. He can defend, he can rebound, and he isn’t making mental mistakes. A rough day for the haters and loser of which there are many that love to tweet me how Yabu isn’t an NBA player. Sadly I’m not sure where they went last night.
– You know things probably didn’t go so well when Marcus Smart was your best offensive player, but I loved what I saw from him in his second preseason game
Was it a little concerning that 6 of his 9 FGA came from three? Sure, but a tiger can’t change his stripes. Smart did a little bit of everything in his team high 25 minutes, and I can admit that lefty tomahawk dunk out of a high screen was pretty nice. Smart is a sneaky really impressive dunker at the guard spot, and I would say he looks ready for the season. Of the players that have me annoyed at the moment, I can’t say Smart is one of them.
– On a night where nobody could do anything offensively, at least Jaylen Brown looked to have a pulse to start this game
You want to know why? Because unlike others on this team Jaylen had the right approach. As we know by now, when he starts attacking first and jump shooting second, things tend to work out. Well, here was his shot chart from last night
I was pleased with how Jaylen was able to read the defense and cut without the ball on a couple nice assists from Horford, that’s something that will be available to him all season given the talent on this team and how defenses will have to respect everyone on the floor. The cutting opportunities are going to be there.
– It was good to know the Theory is still alive and well. Their 29 point third quarter was fairly predictable after their 19 point first.
– I’m running out of way to express my love for Aron Baynes, he’s just so perfect. His defense is just as ridiculous as it was last year (94.7 rating), he led the team with a 24.1% REB% which is fairly ridiculous, and when he’s on the floor is when the Celtics defense actually looks like themselves. Not to mention he’s money from the line. People will laugh at you if you say he was one of the most important FA signings this team had this summer, but in reality it’s the truth.
– There are many reasons I love Brad Stevens. Last night was another great example of why I would take a bullet for this man. He is the greatest
While I hate to see him disappointed, I love how he keeps it real and honest. Brad is pissed, so I can be pissed.
– Robert Williams continues to show us why he is the steal of the Draft. It’s impossible not to be a little Kool Aid drunk after watching him so far this preseason.
– Is it good that the Celtics never had a lead at any point in this game? They got down 2-0 and never recovered. There were 0 lead changes, at home, against this Cavs team that may not win 30 games. In what world is that tolerable? I don’t know if they were still feeling the effects of Game 7 when they saw those Cavs jerseys, but jesus christ you would think they would come out guns blazing given everything that happened. Instead, just like in Game 7, they laid a gigantic egg.
– It’s hard to ignore the shooting at this point. Another 42/16% splits, this team simply cannot throw the ball in the ocean right now. I mean their shots don’t even look close. I don’t want to give you these numbers, but I have to.
I mean it’s everyone. Hayward was 0-3 from deep, Jaylen 0-3, Morris/Smart/Semi combined to go 4-14. You have to make your open threes if you want to be good in this league, and for whatever reason since Game 7 of last year the Celtics have not been able to knock anything down. I can’t remember seeing the entire team go on this sort of prolonged slump and I’ll be honest, I don’t love it!
– Maybe it’s not fair, but the starters set the tone in this game. They looked defeated right from the jump when their shots weren’t falling, and that translated to the defensive end where they didn’t exactly play defense. Allowing 32 opening points to the Cavs is unacceptable I don’t care when you play, and you look up and down the starting five and it wasn’t pretty
Hayward – 124 Drtg
Jaylen – 117 Drtg
Horford – 117 Drtg
Tatum – 111 Drtg
Rozier – 103 Drtg
And listen, I get Hayward is making his way back, but some of his issues were not ankle related, they were defensive awareness mistakes. Obviously the more he plays the better this will get so I can’t kill him too much, but at the same time I think it’s fair to expect MUCH better defense from this group as a whole. It reminded me of past years where nothing would fall and the body language would go south, they would give up a run, and next thing you knew they were down 12. If they want their defense to be better, it starts with the starting unit. Period.
– We love to joke about how the Celtics #depth could be a 7th seed or something, well guess what. They got their ass handed to them by Sexton/Clarkson/Nwaba who combined for 39 points. Where was the Celtics second unit? Sure Morris and Smart were good, but what about Semi/Theis? It hasn’t exactly been the greatest start for those two, on either end really.
– I know a lot of this has to do with the fact that they missed every shot they took, but ending the night with just 17 assists is repulsive. Maybe when you’re 5-31 from deep, try switching it up maybe? Perhaps it may work if you run an actual offense and get guys easy buckets? I dunno I’m just spitballing here trying to figure it out.
– Like every team in the league it seems, the Celtics cannot defend without fouling. They have not held a team to under 36 FTA so far this preseason, and that quite frankly is an outrageous number. The Cavs took 38 last night and made more than the Celtics even attempted. Another downfall of not attacking the rim.
– I thought Semi was going to snap out of his shooting slump given his big makes in the fourth quarter the other night, but nope. Another 1-6 (0-4) night, it’s clear Semi is fighting it right now
– You know it’s coming, I know it’s coming, but there will be more than enough “freaking out” takes today. That’s fine, people have to do it, it’s just silly in my opinion. You can be annoyed, you can be angry with how they’ve looked, I mean look at this blog for example, but if you are serious in your takes that there are real issues that will impact this team come next Spring, you’re trying to hard.
– I’m going to need Jayson Tatum to wake up and look like the Jayson Tatum we know and love. That is all I am going to say. Cut the shit with the Kobe long twos and right the ship.
So maybe this is all a blessing in disguise, and that this type of start to the 2018-19 season is exactly what they need as a wake up call. Personally I preferred the 4-0 preseason of last year, but I’m down for whatever gets the job done. To be honest this team has played with that mentality that they can just show up and win, something that will kill them in the long run, so I trust that Brad will figure this out. They are not playing like the Finals favorite many consider them to be out of the East, instead they look like the Celts that won 25 games in 2013. I certainly don’t want to go back to that period in time, and I guarantee Brad doesn’t either.
With that said, it’s time to turn the page