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Last Night Was Easily The Most Frustrating Loss Of This Young Season

Boston Celtics v Indiana Pacers

37 seconds. That’s all it takes. In a 48 minute game, it can ultimately come down to how you handle 37 seconds. Last night, in Indiana, with 37.2 seconds left on the clock, Kyrie Irving made his second consecutive dagger three to put the Celtics up four. At that time they had a win probability of 85.9%. Pretty good! A situation you would think there was no way they could collapse from. Not this team, not with this talent, no way right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Couldn’t be more wrong. You see when you’re on the road playing a very good opponent, you can’t leave the door open. You have to close out your opportunities, and when you don’t, of course the Basketball Gods are going to make you pay. Now don’t take this the wrong way, the Pacers earned that win, they battled all night, came back from double digits and matched the Celtics blow for blow. They deserve credit for out executing the Celtics down the stretch, but let’s not kid ourselves here, Kyrie makes a layup and this game is over. Period.

We’ll get to this team’s late game execution in a minute, and maybe this was just the one weird West Coast road trip loss that happens every single Celtics trip. But considering they are about to play some of the best teams in the NBA in the coming days, having an opportunity to start the trip off on a positive note and then blowing it in the final seconds will forever not be frustrating. Yes, it’s early November, but since when is this team good enough to just be giving away wins like this? In my opinion it’s OK to be extremely frustrated by what we saw last night. No it doesn’t mean anything in terms of how they’ll look in the Spring, but I don’t get why people say stuff like that. It’s OK to evaluate and react to this team as shit happens, and last night fucking sucked. What else do you want me to say? I can’t sit here and make excuses for a game this team 100% should win. They choked, they blew it, whatever you want to call it. Sure you turn the page and move on, but before we do that we have to talk more about what happened.

The Good

– He’s waited long enough. The play of Marcus Morris can no longer be kept out of the top spot of the blog. He’s been too automatic and last night was just his latest example of the new Mook

I know there are going to be a lot of people that want to move Mook to the starting lineup, and to that I say just take a deep breath. Just because he has flourished in his role as this 6th man scorer, does not mean you need to suddenly take him out of that role. Plus, let’s say you swap him for someone like Jaylen. That means on the second unit Jaylen has more ball handling responsibilities and I dunno if I want that right now. If a guy is playing well in his current role, which Mook clearly is, why can’t we just leave him in that role and watch him continue to play well? There’s no doubt he’s been the best Celtic to start this season, and that’s the beauty of a contract year. I’m at the point where I get mad when he doesn’t shoot the ball, which is a weird place for my brain to be.

Watching him play you can just see the difference. He’s getting to his spots with more authority, he still has the ultimate green light but he isn’t abusing the privilege. It’s honestly inspiring to watch, Mook went 9-13 (4-6) last night and his shots are not even hitting the rim. That’s how locked in he is, and while we have no idea how long this is going to last, it sure as been something to watch.

– What sucks about last night is that brutal ending ruined what was a pretty awesome performance from Kyrie. Outside of those last 37 seconds, that was exactly what we need him to be. He took it upon himself to end this game with a couple dagger threes and made them. He’s been shooting LIGHTS OUT since his haircut. He did a little bit of everything last night and it’s a shame that has to go to waste

What I loved most about Kyrie was his energy and effort. He was diving on the floor early, leading by example and setting the tone that I want from the leader of this team. The biggest thing this team had to avoid was taking this game lightly and not respecting the Pacers, and right away Kyrie showed that if he was going to try, then everyone was going to try. What was impressive about this performance was that even though Kyrie scored 18 points and went 6-12 from the field, he had ONE shot at the rim last night, the layup that he missed. That tells me his shot is feeling much better because normally he needs a few in the paint/at the rim to get it going. Last night he was nails without touching the paint.

You know what I also really liked about Kyrie’s night? He didn’t hide from what happened at the end. Took full responsibility as he should, but it was still nice to see

– Another steady 14/6/3 for Tatum, this time finally breaking through and going 4-8 from deep

That’s great to see if only because it’s been a little crazy he’s lived at like 28% from deep on the year. But the one thing that has been solid has been Tatum’s defense and playmaking. Another two more block last night, and then his third game with at least 3 assists. I’m not saying he’s this incredible passing wing or anything, but additional development to his game outside of iso scoring is going to be important.

Maybe the most impressive part of his night was that he guarded Oladipo on 26 possessions and help him scoreless (0-5). Considering most of the Celts had a tough time with him, I found that to be pretty interesting. It just goes to show the defensive versatility he has where he can guard someone like Oladipo who is one of the best iso players in the league and attacks the rim better than most, but then also can guard Thad Young for 5 possessions and keep him scoreless as well. On the night opponents shot just 1-9 against Tatum in this game.

– Pretty standard night for Al with his 14/6 on 6-13 shooting.

A little weird he only had 1 assist, but my takeaway from Al’s performance is I feel like this was the first game we saw where he had multiple dunks. He’s just not that type of big so when I see him go up  strong and finish strong it always makes me chuckle. He probably apologizes after or something because he’s just so nice.

He also did a good job on Myles Turner, guarding him for 37 possessions and giving up just 4 points.

– I get it, there are probably some of you who are a little annoyed with Jaylen Brown. That’s fine, he certainly has had his struggles. But last night wasn’t a total disaster with his 12/7 with 2 blocks and a HUGE corner three

So I’m putting him in this section to hopefully inspire him to keep improving. Hopefully the foot issue isn’t that bad and he starts coming around because this team needs him. He still has ways to go on defense as last night was not kind to him as he had all sorts of problems with Bojan Bogdanovic, but I’m willing to wait this out because I believe in his talent.

– I mean, the Celtics made 19 3PM. Normally that is hard to blow, but going 19-46 is 41% and I’ll take 41% from deep all day.

The Bad

– For fucks sake, will this team learn how to play in the second quarter. Why is this so hard? Do they do it on purpose? That has to be it right? Nothing, and I mean nothing is more consistent with this team that no matter what happens in the first quarter, they are going to shit their pants in the second. Last night it was a nice 17 point performance on 30/40% splits while giving up 27 points. Who needs double digit leads anyways. The more you look into it, it’s a mix of both starters and bench players sort of letting this team down. Terry’s 1-4 didn’t help all that much, but Gordon only took 2 shots in his near 8 minutes of playing time in that second quarter. Tatum went 1-3. If not for Mook and his 6 points, it would have been a goddamn disaster.

I know I shouldn’t get mad when this happens because I know it’s going to happen, but it’s still so fucking annoying. Just don’t shit your pants in the 12 minutes of the second quarter and see what happens. Maybe you’ll like what you see.

– A game after what was probably his best as a Celtic, Hayward had a tough night. The alley-oop was great, it was something my brain needed to see so that I know he can do stuff like that, but overall a 2-10 night when half your shots are threes and you miss them all and you take 0 FTA, that’s not great. He also had no answer for Tyreke Evans who had 12 points on 5-6 shooting when matched up against Hayward, and it’s safe to say that end of the floor is still very much a work in progress.

We’re not there yet, I still think Hayward has until Thanksgiving before I start to really evaluate him, but we can call a spade a spade and he wasn’t great.

– Classic Celtics to start the game like 1-12 and 0-8 from deep. I think their first 5 or 6 FGA were all threes or something like that. I get it, we love it when they go in so we have to live with it when they struggle, but it’s having a rippling effect. You see the Celtics took just 9 FTA in this game. I don’t want to hear all that much about the refs, because sure they may miss a call here or there, but the Celtics approach is the one that we should be mad at. This is a team that is simply not generating FTs because they are not attacking.

This team is 29TH in free throw rate, beating only the Magic. Last year? They were 18th. Not great, but certainly not as bad as what we’re seeing now. And then once they actually got FTAs in the fourth quarter, both Tatum and Horford missed one. The Celtics lost by 1 point. It’s a delicate balance for sure, you have to take the open shots when they are there, but this is a team that needs to use it’s PG and it’s wings to get to the line. Their offense isn’t good enough to completely ignore the FT line. You watch them score, their points are coming off hard makes more often than not. I need to see Brad adjust here.

– Such a weird night for Marcus Smart. On one hand he went 1-7, took a pretty brutal three late in the fourth, and couldn’t hit a layup to save his life. On the other hand he was a team best +12. We should be used to this by now, but after doing so well in this game about passing up bad threes, I can’t believe he took one when he did when it was 91-89 with about 3 minutes to go.

The Ugly

– OK, let’s just get this out of the way. This probably wasn’t a foul. I’m interested to see the L2M report, but at the same time I’m not surprised Oladipo got this call at home on a play in which he was aggressive. Still, that hurt

Then, we get to the biggest sequence of the play

You gotta hit the layup. You just have to. But even then OK you missed it, YOU HAVE TO KNOW OLADIPO IS GOING FOR THE WIN. I am way more mad at Kyrie’s transition defense here than I am at him missing the layup. What was that? He half assed it, no other way to put it. It’s also fair to say they went a little too quick on that play. Doesn’t matter if he makes the layup, but still.

But then things got worse. OK down 1 still plenty of time for a Bad ATO right? Well let’s look at what Hayward saw

Screen Shot 2018-11-04 at 9.22.44 AM

Right idea, wrong type of pass. Way too much of a bullet. I’m almost positive Hayward wants that one back. We’ve seen Brad go to this type of play a bunch where they lob it over the top for a layup, this was just bad execution.

 


So all in all, it sucked. Blowing a winnable game is never fun and is one that will leave a bad taste in your mouth for a little bit. Now they move to DEN who is 8-1 and playing some of the best basketball in the league. I’m interested to see how this team bounces back, and history tells me that it should be pretty good. They’re for sure going to have to defend the three point line and try and slow down that DEN pace, but a win there would change the feeling of this trip pretty quickly.

Denver