I thought maybe after getting some sleep (lol yeah right I replayed that final shot 100,000 times in my head until about 3:37am) that I would no longer be angry after last night’s embarrassing and pathetic collapse to the Lakers, but as I sit here this morning I still feel sick to my stomach. It’s one thing to lose to the Lakers, that will always rub any Celtics fan the wrong way, but then you add in the LeBron factor, that once again this team couldn’t beat him on their own floor. Then you add in the reality that one of our own, our beloved Rajon Rondo was the one to hit the game winner for those scumbags and that was one of the biggest kicks to the dick we’ve experienced since Game 7 last Spring. I know the stakes were entirely different and that one should sting more but I’m just being honest with how I feel right now. This shit still hurts even though it was a regular season game in February, I can’t lie to you. I am embarrassed.
What makes this loss so goddamn annoying was it should have never happened. Up 18 points at home against a bad Lakers team, the Celts should have never even been in a position to lose on a Rajon Rondo buzzer beater. Just a complete and total collapse from everyone involved. The players, Brad, everyone. Given how they’ve been playing over the last few months I did not think we were still doing this shit. The worst part is they played pretty well for like 90% of this game. Had they shown just a sliver of life on the defensive end we’re having a much different conversation this morning, probably all laughing at LeBron and having a grand ol’ time. Instead, like he seemingly always does for the last decade, he’s the one doing the laughing. It disgusts me.
Here’s what we won’t do. We wont run and hide from this disaster on the blog. That’s not how we roll. We puff our chest out and celebrate when things are going great, and we face the music and take our medicine when shit like this happens. This one is going to sting, but it’s time we talk about what we saw, let’s begin.
– I’ll be honest, I really wanted to skip this section entirely. For those who have been reading for the past 4 years, you know that almost never happens. Even in the darkest times it’s my job to provide some spin, so even though I don’t want to I know there are fellow Celts fans out there that are feeling what I’m currently feeling and need something positive to start their day. You know what helps with that? Watching Jayson Tatum
So much has been made of the Celtics young pieces vs the Lakers young pieces for obvious reasons, and last night we saw why Jayson Tatum is considered the best of the bunch. He finished with 22/10/5 on 9-14 shooting in a starter high 36 minutes, and really right from the jump he showed to be the biggest offensive challenge for the Lakers. Whether it was out of the post, from deep, or at the rim, Tatum showed us the full offensive arsenal last night. The efficiency isn’t all that surprising when you see that 9 of his 14 FGA came from 15ft and in, and you could certainly make the case that they should have gone to him MORE down the stretch since he seemed to be the only one who the Lakers couldn’t stop. There is no excuse for Tatum having the 5th highest usage rate at 18.3% last night when he was your best offensive player. That’s annoying as hell.
The scoring is nice, but we know that’s what Tatum does. What stood out to me was obviously his production on the glass on a night where it seemed like nobody could get a rebound. Not only did his 10 lead the team, but he had the second highest REB% and highest DREB% of any Celtic that played. He’s made a real effort to improve that area of his game which as we know is a big time need for this team, so to see it come to fruition is encouraging.
– I don’t even want to think of where this team would have been last night if not for Daniel Theis. I’m not saying you can bank on 20/7 every night, but man is he a luxury to have as like your 3rd big off the bench
This game was a great example of how Theis fits this system in that he can stretch the floor and hit threes, he can defend, and even though he’s like 6’8 he can still protect the rim. He’s a perfect P&R and pick & pop player, he’s usually quicker than whoever is guarding him so his ability to put the ball on the floor is a huge advantage, and maybe his best attribute is how effective he is on the offensive glass. How many times last night did we see him bail the Celts out with a big tip in, or a tap out, things like that. He had an outrageous 17.6 OREB% in this game which was more than double of any player on both sides, and that’s just pure energy. When Theis comes in you know that’s what you’re going to get, he may struggle against traditional 7fters, but the energy will always be there and not just on the glass too. Theis was also tied for 2nd in terms of overall contested shots with 11 and in my opinion played one of his best games of the year. Shame these dickheads wasted it.
– Speaking of young assets, another strong showing from Jaylen
18 points off the bench on 7-10 shooting, it was Jaylen and Jayson that really carried the load early for this team, and as always you can directly correlate Jaylen’s strong offensive night with his approach. I’m going to put this in the blog every time it happens because I want to continue to speak it into existence, but this is the shot distribution I want from Jaylen every damn night
Either he’s at the rim, or he’s taking threes. That’s perfect. No long contested twos, everything is either attacking or taking an open three. This is now the 8th straight game Jaylen was finished with at least 10 points off the bench, he had the second highest Ortg in this game at 142.3, and on the defensive end Jaylen was one of the few players that showed a pulse. Opponents shot a total of 7-15 against him, including holding LeBron to 3-8 and most importantly 0 FTA. That was Jaylen’s primary matchup so I consider it encouraging that he was finally able to show the ability to defend LeBron without fouling, something he’s had trouble with in the past.
– Maybe one of the most frustrating parts of this loss was the Celts wasted a fantastic Terry Rozier performance off the bench. For a guy that seems to struggle once he goes back to the second unit, we got Starter Terry right from the jump in this one
It’s always risky when 7 of his 9 FGA are from deep, but when you’re feeling it like Terry was you have to live with it. I thought his energy was fantastic and he was engaged the entire time on both ends. He did a great job neutralizing Rondo, and in addition to his shooting you had to be impressed with how he passed the ball finishing with 6 assists and 0 turnovers. I’m not going to say he was perfect, but I will say if the Celts are able to get like 80% of this version of Terry off the bench moving forward, that second unit is going to be a big time problem for teams.
– Speaking of the bench, how on earth is it possible for that group to score 61 points and lose? 61 points!!!!
– In addition to that, how many times have the Celts finished with 35 assists and gone 20-20 from the line and lost? They hit all the boxes in this game and still didn’t pull it out. Now I’m stuck being happy they are playing the right way but also mad as shit that they still fucking blew it.
– OK, was that enough for everyone? Can we finally get to the real point of this blog? It’s time to vent. We’ll start with Kyrie. Now I don’t want to be too harsh on Kyrie because he has legit carried this team all season and is playing the best basketball of his career, but let’s call a spade a spade, he stunk last night. His 6-21 from the floor was the worst we’ve seen him shoot since opening night, and while he did his best to salvage it with a big fourth quarter, this was not a night in which we could afford to have him struggle offensively like this. What’s confusing is that Brad didn’t give Terry more run when it was pretty clear one guy was feeling it and the other was going through a rut.
Defensively, it wasn’t much better for Irving. Opponents shot 11-19, and every player he guarded outside of Ingram who took just one shot, finished with 50% shooting or better. His struggles were really visible when it came to defending the three, as those collection of players shot 8-12 from deep against Kyrie. Maybe it’s his hip that was acting up, but this was not the same level of defense we’ve come to expect from Kyrie, and it came back to bite this team in the ass.
– Don’t let the rebounding totals fool you, rebounding was once again a big time issue in this game, so I’m going to have to ask everyone to grab a seat and watch this. Someone has to address this problem and if Brad isn’t going to then I fucking will.
– In terms of his effort on the glass and his passing, Gordon Hayward played well. In terms of everything else, including finishing with 4 points on 2-5 shooting, it was pretty terrible. Once again we’re back to a situation where it just didn’t feel like they were using Hayward correctly. His 5 FGA isn’t close to being enough, he had a team worst 7% usage rate, so while I understand the frustration of fans because of his salary and all that, this team actually has to use him if you want him to produce. That’s where I get frustrated with Brad because we have actual film of how Hayward can be successful, and it feels as though they refuse to use it consistently. I’m all for demanding he be better, but what can the man do if he’s never touching the ball?
Now it’s true that once he does get touches, he needs to be more aggressive. Hayward had 37 touches in this game and passed the ball 30 times. While I love his commitment to ball movement, sometimes the man passes it just to pass it instead of attack. He deserves blame for that, especially on the second unit where he should be the #1 option. I just hope this usage issue is figured out by the Spring.
– I know the Celts love to blow huge leads, but you simply cannot blow an 18 point lead at home to the Lakers given everything that’s going on between these two teams right now. We as Celtics fans spent all day and really the last few days clowning this Lakers team and now we look like assholes because you couldn’t not shit your pants. Do you know how annoying that is for those of us who live on the internet? How can I talk shit about LeBron failing to get AD when you just did that to me after all I do for you? It’s honestly rude.
– The worst part about this whole thing? I can’t even hate Rondo. I want to, but I can’t. I think that’s what I hate the most. My love for him is too pure and too permanent that I couldn’t even be mad as he was crushing my soul. I knew this whole Rondo on the Lakers thing was going to be a problem and it absolutely is.
– The Los Angeles Lakers average 10.3 3PM a night, good for 20th in the league. They shoot 33.9% from deep which is good for 27th in the league. So someone please explain to me how this team is allowed to go 22-41 from three? This is the team that’s going to break the record for most 3PM against the Celtics in their franchise history? Get that out of my fucking face. Where was the Celtics defense that ranks 3rd in opponent 3P%? This game was lost in the third quarter where the Celts saw their 9 point lead evaporate and LA go a ridiculous 9-13 from three. I can’t even believe I just typed those numbers. Another 42 point quarter, the Lakers shot 69/69% and all the Celtics had to do was not be completely pathetic and they probably win this game. Just be moderately terrible and give up like 35 points, why is that so hard to ask?
More importantly, what is this team’s deal with 3rd quarters? What the hell is Brad doing at halftime that this team keeps coming out so goddamn flat? Every game it’s the same story and that will never make sense to me.
– A lot will be made of the final possession, and why didn’t Brad foul, but that’s hindsight in my opinion. I’d be curious to know what the conversation was about their plan with 18 seconds left because they did score a little quick, but at the same time I don’t think any of us would be demanding Brad intentionally foul Rondo had his final shot not fallen. What kept me up for hours was this stuff right here
How does nobody grab the ball. My brain simply cannot comprehend how that’s possible. This is what, like the 3rd or 4th loss this season because nobody on this team can grab the fucking basketball? A great defensive play by Horford was for nothing because they couldn’t control a loose ball. Unbelievable.
– Apparently Rondo was 0-11 on game winners in his career? That’s fun.
– The reality is had the Lakers even made half their FTs this is a blowout loss. You should be ashamed of yourself if you’re the Celts and a team that just lost by 40 game into your building and outplayed you like this. Gross.
In a season filled with frustrating and embarrassing losses, this one has to be near the top for me. Good news is I’ve already started the process of eliminating this game from my memory, much like Game 6 in 2012, Game 7 in 2010, and Game 7 in 2018. Pretty annoying that most of these have LeBron involved, but I’ll be able to eventually bury this loss so deep it’ll be as if it never even happened. In the meantime it’s time to look forward to the Clippers, and I’ll admit with another former Celtic in Doc Rivers coming to town, I’m a little shook