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If I Have To Keep Giving Myself Food Poisoning Just For The Celtics To Win Then Dammit That's Exactly What I'll Do

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Let me tell ya, I’ve had a rough like 36 hours. I don’t know if any stoolies out there have ever had food poisoning, but holy shit is it the worst thing of all time. I went out Monday night for a little innocent 32nd birthday dinner, didn’t even have a beer, and within hours I would spend pretty much every second either hugging my toilet or sleeping. Pick an end and it was flying out at a rapid pace. At first I thought my body was just reacting to how terrible the Celtics have been, and while I may look slim as shit and like a goddamn snack right now, I would not wish what I just went through all yesterday on my worst enemy.

Here’s the thing though. The Celtics finally won, and my deranged brain can’t help but wonder if the two things are related. If I seriously have to do this to myself on a consistent basis just to help this team win, well that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make. I care about this team that much that I will go through hell as long as it assures that they will not collapse in fourth quarters and actually beat someone. Now some of you may say “big deal it was CLE”, and yeah, it is a big deal. Since when are we under the impression that as of late the Celtics were better than the Cavs? This is a team that recently beat the Bucks and the Raptors and were like 4-1 at home heading into this game. Add to that the fact that the Celtics forgot how to play basketball and actually win, this wasn’t a game where you could just assume the Celts would just coast to victory. Hell they even almost blew it!

So look, I’m not going to thumb my nose up at beating the Cavs because frankly the Celtics have been worse than CLE over the last few weeks. Having any sort of momentum heading into their showdown with IND on Friday was the overall goal in my opinion, and now that we finally saw this team actually show a pulse in a fourth quarter I do feel slightly better. Still feel like shit due to the food poisoning, but less shitty when thinking about this basketball team.

With that said, let’s talk about last night

The Good

– There were a lot of worthy candidates to start us off today, but after thinking about it I kept going back to the guy who every time the Celts looked liked they were going to give this game away, the second he came back into the game everything changed on both ends. That man is Al Horford

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After getting some rest to deal with his sore knee, Horford stepped right in and owned his matchups from the jump. Offensively he was his same old reliable efficient self finishing 7-10 from the floor, especially in the fourth quarter where he had a huge 8 points on 3-3 shooting. Normally he struggles against CLE, Tristan Thompson sort of owns him, but last night was a different story as he finished 3-4 against him in 24 possessions. What I liked about Al’s night was he primarily worked in the paint, with just 3 of his 10 FGA coming from outside that area. When you’re struggling to score like the Celts often do, getting Al going in his sweet spots is always a smart decision. They also did a great job of playing through Horford, he led the team in assists, and overall I would sum this performance up as a classic example of why Horford is this team’s most important player.

Oh and defensively he held Love to 1-6 shooting on 37 possessions.

– If you ignore the fact that they ignored Jayson Tatum for an entire second half and just focus on the first 24 minutes, boy was Tatum locked in

The one thing I wanted to see when I watched this game this morning was with no Kyrie how aggressive would Tatum be? They would obviously need him to be their primary scorer, a role I think deep down we all know Tatum wants, and he came right out and did not disappoint. It was almost like he saw that layup drop early and it opened the floodgates because it didn’t matter if it was a three or a little midrange, he was absolute money. His 19 first half points really saved the Celts, and really I could only count one bad long two which is certainly progress.

The question now is how do we get this version of Tatum when everyone is healthy. I think part of that may have to do with not having Mook in the starting lineup, but it’s too early to tell. Also it should be mentioned how well Tatum created for others and showed patience. Even when he wasn’t scoring he was still engaged getting everyone involved and that’s important because we’ve seen him pout and mentally take himself out of games when he isn’t scoring. The fact that he was still productive in the second half with only 2 points is encouraging.

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– If there was one player that was not going to let the Celtics lose this game it was Marcus Smart. You could feel his energy through your television screen, and I would say what we witnessed was one of the most Marcus Smartiest Smart performances of the season. He was aggressive, he was diving all over the floor, he was hitting threes, he was just not going to accept a loss and frankly I think that rubbed off on everyone else

At this point I don’t think it’s really a debate he and Al are the leaders of this team, and they lead not by throwing their teammates or coach under the bus, but by example. We all know this team doesn’t always play a full 48 minutes, so that’s exactly what Smart does. Sure the opponent may have had something to do with how efficient he was, but not the energy part. If we can see that moving forward on a consistent basis I think we all feel much better about this team.

– Celts won the rebounding battle, the points in the paint battle, the second chance points battle, and the fast break points battle. They took care of the ball and had balanced shooting from the entire roster, and wouldn’t you know the offense looked great. Part of that is the league’s worst defense, but the other part is they played unselfish and connected, something we haven’t seen in weeks.

– It’s pretty simple, you get Gordon Hayward 12 points, the Celtics will never lose

I’m not kidding

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While we didn’t see Hayward start, we did see him play 30 minutes and put up the exact type of performance we need for this team to actually do anything in the postseason. A nice 15/5/4 on 7-12 shooting he was aggressive, not just finishing at the rim but also getting into the paint to utilize his little turnaround. You almost forget that Hayward can actually get to wherever he wants when he puts his mind to it, and there’s no denying that he’s been a huge part of why this team plays well (when they actually do). The Celts have a +8.5 net rating since February 1st when Hayward plays and a -7.2 when he doesn’t. I would say that’s significant.

– It wasn’t lights out, but we finally saw this team play some defense in the fourth quarter. I almost couldn’t believe what I was watching but the numbers don’t lie. Just 25 points on 52/16% splits with 5 TOs, I almost teared up watching this team actually not blow a lead. Now they got close, but eventually punched back and pulled it out which as we’ve seen over the last 4 games is certainly no guarantee.

– Can you believe Brad finally changed his starting lineup? Even better can you believe he actually said that nothing is set in stone for the rest of the season? I feel like that’s a huge win for all of us on the internet. I’m not ready to say we as a whole did not force his hand with this chance and wouldn’t you know it led to a win. Imagine if he listened to us weeks ago we’d probably be the 1 seed.

The Bad

– Tommy mentioned this on the postgame and I couldn’t agree more. Every time this team needs a huge lift offensively, they fall into the bad habit of taking nothing but threes. You may remember the runs the Celts went on were largely due to both Marcus’ making consecutive threes. Last night that worked out, but we should know by now we can’t bank on that, and part of me feels like the first time this team faces adversity in the playoffs they are going to pull that same shit and the shots won’t fall, and then on the other end they’ll give up layups. They say it’s a make or miss league so you love it when they fall, but it’s certainly not sustainable for this team in my opinion.

– It’s honestly impressive how much Daniel Theis fouls. It’s like he enters the game with 2 personal fouls or something. He had 4 in 9 minutes and I’ll have you know that he has the most fouls per minutes played in a single season since 2004. Look at the data, the dude fouls once every 10 seconds!

– He was due for a clunker, and that’s pretty much what we got from Jaylen lat night. That’s probably why Brad only played him 17 minutes despite being shorthanded. He certainly didn’t have it defensively, Jordan Clarkson ate him up and he had the second highest Drtg on the team at 128.9. Overall his net rating of -12.7 only trailed Yabu, and part of me thinks Brad’s new rotation may have messed with his rhythm. Jaylen didn’t enter the game until 2:04 in the first quarter which felt pretty late, and while he made his first few shots they went away from him once again where he didn’t even touch the ball for long stretches and I think it sort of messed him up mentally. I don’t particularly love that.

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The Ugly

– Overall the defense still makes me a little nervous. The Celts got roasted by Collin Sexton it didn’t matter what guard was matched up with him, and honestly they got a little lucky that Love shot so poorly (3-13). On the surface it looks like 106 isn’t that bad of a number given how poor they’ve played on that end recently, but things just felt too easy. They allowed the Cavs to get into the paint at will, they also couldn’t stop Cedi Osman which is concerning given our wing defenders are supposed to be a strength, and like I said they did let the Cavs back in this game a few too many times.

– I don’t know what the plan was here, but holy shit was this pathetic

I don’t even blame Yabu for this either. How on earth are you going to have him on an island against someone as fast as Sexton? Why can’t this team ever close a quarter without completely shitting themselves? I don’t know if we’ll ever get an answer to that question but this has to make Brad’s head explode.


Is it sad that I’m this happy and relieved just for beating CLE? Yup, it sure is. But when you’re searching for any win you can get and are in a battle for homecourt in the first round, I’ll fucking take it. I’m not going to even feed into the “better without Kyrie” bullshit that I’m sure we’ll see and hear today. We know how stupid that is.

Now, if I had to poison myself for the IND game I guess I’ll do it, because if there’s one thing you will not accuse me of it’s not doing my part to turn this thing around.