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The Celtics Win A Thriller Against The Pacers In An Attempt To Buy Back Our Trust

Indiana Pacers v Boston Celtics

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There is something to be said about responding to adversity. It’s a pretty rare occurrence for this Celtics team, more often than not we see them fold and cave under the pressure despite all the talent on their roster. They’re just 5-6 in games decided by 3 points or less and that’s always a little confusing given the type of closer that they employ in Kyrie Irving. You add that to their 16-21 record against teams over .500, you get an idea of just how huge last night’s win was. Not just because of the seeding and the homecourt and all that stuff that is going to be crucial for this team in the postseason, but because they strapped in and got it done against a good playoff caliber team in a must win situation. They did not fold, they did not settle for terrible shots that make us all want to pull out hair out. They got the ball to Kyrie Irving and he attacked. Maybe this is a sign of what we’ll see in the playoffs when things get tight, but after not really coming through in the last few fourth quarters, Kyrie put this team on his back on both ends over the final 5ish minutes and the Celtics for once have us feeling good.

Are they back? God no. I think we can safely say the will not be back for the remainder or the regular season. That dream is dead. At this point all I want to see is this team start clicking, playing the right way and muster up as much momentum as they possibly can. We’re at the point in the season where we need to see who is going to be worthy of playoff minutes and since we know we’re playing IND in the first round, it’s about finding those combinations and rotations and building chemistry with them for when things really matter. The fact that the Celts came out with great energy and built a nice lead only to see IND keep coming at them and not going away which forced this team to actually try for 48 minutes was exactly what I needed to see and now that I know they can do it, there really aren’t anymore excuses.

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It’s no secret how bad this team is on the road, especially against playoff caliber teams, so doing their part to ensure homecourt in the first round is a big step. It’s still not completely locked up, they still need to play well the rest of the way and then probably also beat IND again next week, but this was the first big domino.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough, which is basically how I would describe the Celtics season.

With that said, let’s begin.

The Good

– What else is there to say, Kyrie Irving put this team on his back in the second half with 20 of his 30 points, and then 8 huge points in the fourth quarter

But for me his night was more than just his scoring. Yeah the efficiency was there as he went 11-22 from the field, and the passing was nice with 5 turnovers and 0 TOs, but to me the biggest impact me made was on the defensive end. We know what he is as an offensive player and a closer, he’s one of the best the league has, but when he’s engaged on the defensive end like he was last night it changes everything. He was second on the team in deflections, second in defensive loose ball recoveries, third in contested shots (led all guards), had 3 steals and was completely engaged the entire night.

A quick note on the game winner. Not only was I relieved that Al decided to give him the ball, lord knows what the postgame would have been like had he not gotten a chance to win it, but I loved that he took his time, kept his dribble alive, and allowed the defense to beat themselves. For sure the easiest game winner he’s ever had and a pretty good play by Brad initially to get Al the ball in space and let him make the right decision. Given how up and down these situations have been, it was nice to see one actually work out.

– Speaking of Al Horford I would like this on record. I would kill for Al Horford. He’s their most important player and is playing at Playoff Al levels at just the right time

Everything just works so much better with him on the floor, whether it’s his reliability on the offensive end and his knack for coming up huge in big time spots, or how he is the lifeblood of this team defensively, this was yet another example of just how valuable he is to what the Celtics do. You could take my word for it, but allow me to show you some evidence to support my claim. Look at his on/off splits from last night, look at them!

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I mean that is ridiculous. That’s why him getting all the rest he needs over these final 6 games is so important because once the playoffs come he’s basically never going to be able to come out. Last night it was more about his efficient scoring and his rim protection than his work as a facilitator and that’s OK. He is the calming force that this team needs when things get crazy, and I trust him with my life.

– If there’s one thing we now know about playing the Pacers, it’s that this team can kill them in transition. Another huge win in fast break points 26-8, this after scoring 30+ points in their last meeting, it’s going to make things a whole lot easier in a playoff series if you don’t have to beat the Pacers in the half court. Now maybe things slow down in the playoffs and those opportunities aren’t there as often, but the Celts seem to play with a good pace against the Pacers and it’s paying off.

– I’ve been pretty clear that I don’t really care about Jaylen not starting as long as he plays around 30 minutes and plays crunch time fourth quarter minutes. Well, he had 27 last night and 11:47 of the fourth quarter and wouldn’t ya know he responded

To think this is the same guy that so many people wanted off the team because of how he started the season, look at him now. This past month he’s 3rd on the team in scoring, shooting 51/43% and making 1.7 3PM a night. His defense has been much better as he’s not making nearly as many mental mistakes, and we’re starting to see that same Jaylen we saw last Spring which you’ll remember was pretty damn unstoppable. Both he and Gordon were huge off the bench combining for 27 points on 11-17 shooting, and if those two can play like this well it changes everything.

Once the playoffs start rotations obviously shorten, but the Celts are looking at a situation where they would have 3 starter quality players in their 6-8 spots. If Brad wants to limit Terry’s minutes and have Hayward run the offense he can. Their ability to not have a drop off while going to their bench would be a unique advantage for sure.

– The pairing of Al and Aron Baynes is something we haven’t been able to see much of due to injuries, but I think you’ll agree now that we have it, it’s just as awesome as we remembered from last year.

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To anyone who doesn’t really follow the Celtics it may sound crazy to hear how important Baynes is, but he really makes a gigantic difference.

I pray to God every night that this man stays healthy for the rest of the season/playoffs because things are just different when he’s on the floor. Last night was a pretty great example of the versatility Brad has going up against a team with two legit bigs like the Pacers. He can have Baynes out there to stick with Sabonis who is a bruiser, and then have Horford roam with Turner who likes to stretch the floor and lose nothing by having you best defender 30 ft from the basket. That’s a nice luxury.

The Bad

– A little concerning this team kept blowing double digit leads, but at this point in the season I almost expect it anytime they get up by 10. That may as well be a tie as far as I’m concerned, but it does have to make you a little nervous that they can’t just get these leads and then get a few stops to turn it into a blowout. This game was definitely way more stressful than it had to be, and maybe that’s because IND just plays hard all the time, but just once I’d like to see this team get off to a good start and then not immediately give it back.

– A large reason for that was the second quarter. Another situation where the Celts nearly had as many TOs (7) as FGM (11), and I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of their offensive struggles were coming with Terry running the point. Not that he was turning it over, but that he wasn’t having the best time recognizing who was having the hot hand. Both Jaylen and Hayward were feeling it, yet they rarely touched the ball as IND slowly started to make their comeback. This happens all too frequently and not just with Terry but in general. How many times have we seen someone like Jaylen do nothing but make shots and then suddenly never touch the ball? Maybe a billion, and that’s being conservative.

– Brad has to figure something out in terms of staying with Bojan Bogdanovic because he is going to kill them in a playoff series I just know it. Whatever the gameplan was yesterday throw it out the window and try something else because things were far too easy for him. He just has the feel of a guy that is going to go nuts in one game that the Pacers steal or something, so yeah I’m already a little nervous about it.

– The one thing that’s clear is the Celts still need to figure out how they are going to defend P&Rs. They basically can’t do it and IND is going to P&R them to death. Sabonis is a great passer as a big man, and it felt like whenever this happened the Pacers got whatever they wanted, Defending this has been a problem for the Celtics all season and it wasn’t all that great last night. In addition to that, they need to be much better about putting a body on a big when a Pacer drives to the rim, way too often was there someone there for an easy putback because the Pacers crashed hard and there was no Celtic there to body him.

– Kinda carelss with the ball  late in this game which my heart certainly didn’t appreciate. Whether it was the Smart TO late, or the TO with like 40 seconds inbounding the basketball, that’s just careless shit that’s going to get your ass beat. Can’t have that.

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The Ugly

– Another rough night for Mook. Just 20 minutes which I’m sure fans are happy with, but just 3-8 from the field, 5 of those being 3PA and a team worst -16. It’s tough because in order for this team to be at their best they need Mook to contribute, but he’s shooting himself out of the rotation if you ask me. It was a little weird to see him and Hayward’s minutes be so close, and Brad still trusts him way too much in my opinion, but if he’s not going to be making shots, not going to be rebounding or defending, then what are we even doing.

– Let’s not sugarcoat this. The Celtics got very lucky that Thad Young missed that wide open bunny at the end. Chances are we feel a whole lot worse today had that dropped and that’s why I can’t go full homer and say the Celts have my trust back 100%. That was a point blank wide open layup that he makes probably 99% of the time. Sometimes you have to get lucky, but it shouldn’t have even been that close to begin with.


So now we turn the page for a little early bird B2B against the pesky Nets. Who knows if everyone will play tonight with the quick turnaround, so obviously that may impact things. I just need to see this team continue to play well, even if they lose, and hopefully last night was the start of just that. I understand being hesitant to trust this team, why should we, but I’m slowly getting there.