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The Celtics Lost A Throwaway Game But Who Gives A Shit It's Time To Focus On The Playoffs

Orlando Magic v Boston Celtics

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Alright, here we are. With yesterday being a throwaway game because the Celtics postseason path was already determined before tip, it doesn’t really bother me that they lost for the third time this year to the Magic, the only Eastern Conference team to sweep them this season. The win clinched a playoff birth for ORL, so I’m happy they got it. Absolutely nothing was going to change for the Celts if they won or if they lost, so it’s whatever to me. In fact I’m actually encouraged by what I saw last night despite the loss which is weird, but this entire season has been weird so it oddly fits. While some of you may have already been mentally preparing for a playoff showdown with the Pacers, now we know not only is it for sure happening that way, but the series will also officially start at the Garden which is the best case scenario. Not let’s not get it twisted, this regular season was still a massive disappointment from a wins perspective, you can’t go into the year thinking wins in the 60s and then finish out with a max 49 wins and a 4 seed and think that’s good. But if the goal of the regular season is to find the easiest path in the playoffs, well theoretically the Celts have found themselves a favorable path in the postseason, which is a positive. I don’t think there are many Celts fans out there that would rather a BKN/TOR path as a 3 seed or something than IND/MIL, and while they’ll still have to play very well to advance, in terms of their matchups that’s a much more favorable draw.

The goal of these last two games is obviously to play well and stay healthy. Last night we got one of the two which we’ll talk about in a little bit. It’s going to be fascinating to see how this team now responds since the regular season that they hated so much is finally over, because now there are no excuses. There is no more time to figure things out, no more time to play like assholes, this is it. The postseason is here as far as I’m concerned, but before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about game 81.

The Good

– You wanna know why I could give two flying fucks about losing to the Magic? Because Gordon Hayward continues to look AWESOME

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If I had to rank the important things in my life right now it’d probably go

1. My family

2. My dogs

3. Gordon Hayward being so fucking back it’ll make your head spin

4. My Health

It’s the key to everything. Not only allowing Brad to limit the minutes of a Terry/Mook rotation, but also the key to this team’s success. He’s been the wild card all season, and while he’s shown flashes of being back and then disappeared, what we’re seeing lately is completely different because he’s being consistent. You look at his recent stretch of play and I don’t know how you could say this is not a guy rounding into the best basketball of his season at just the perfect time

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Look at the efficiency!! Just watching him you can see a player that is way more aggressive and confident in his ability to finish through contact. He’s still by far one of this team’s best playmakers and the offense flows so smoothly through Hayward I cannot wait to see it unleashed in the postseason. His two man game with Horford is as beautiful as I imagined, he’s attacking the paint and looking to score like he did in Utah, and I still don’t think we’ve seen him take a bad shot in like 3 weeks. With Hayward though it’s more than just his offense that makes him such an important piece to the puzzle, it’s the work he also does on the defensive end. Last night holding Magic opponents to 6-13 shooting his on ball defense is no longer a negative like it was earlier in the season. So if you’re telling me they are getting a consistent scorer on one end, and then a guy who is no longer a defensive liability on the other, well how does that no excite you.

Oh and he played 38 minutes in a game in which both Mook/Jaylen/Terry were active sooooooooo maybe Brad is telling us something.

– It made me extremely nervous to see Kyrie play 35 minutes in a game that literally meant nothing, especially after already losing Tatum/Smart, but I’ll say this about Kyrie’s performance. He showed he cared. That may not be a big deal to the casual observer, but for those of us who have watched every second of this season? To see Kyrie care in a game like this was a pretty big deal in my opinion. He stayed engaged, he went for it, and most importantly came out healthy

He still has a little turnover issue here and there where he tries to do a little too much, but this also looks like a man ready for the postseason. In my opinion no Celtic has more pressure on him to deliver these next few weeks more than Kyrie given all the talk, and now it’s time for him to back it up

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– I think it’s fair to say one of the areas the Celts have struggled with this season is their resiliency. When things start to go south they pout, point fingers, fight with each other, basically implode like a bunch of soft bitches. But every once in a while we see them punch back and actually show a backbone. When the Magic went on that huge run to make it a 14 point game in the third quarter, this Celtics team could have folded. They didn’t need this game, nothing would change if they won it, just pack it in and stay healthy. Instead, they clawed back, played with some passion and actually showed a pulse. That fourth quarter showed the type of resiliency this team is going to need in the playoffs when things suddenly don’t go their way, so even though they lost the fact that they had that approach is something that sits well with me. Maybe they can flip a switch?

– I am running out of ways to express how in love I am with Al Horford. To say he’s perfect is selling him short, but the man is locked in, he’s healthy, and holy shit does Playoff Al fucking rule

Call me crazy, but I even loved how Brad resisted the urge to put Horford back in late despite it being close. His minutes were only at 25 and that’s fine with me. He’s shown he’s ready for the playoffs, let the man get his rest because a rested Al Horford is a completely different player.

How about this too. Normally against big bruising centers Al struggles, but he matched up with Vucevic on 22 possessions and allowed just 5 points on 2-5 shooting. Then against a way more athletic big in Aaron Gordon who he matched up with on 18 possessions he allowed just 2 points on 1-4 shooting. That’s the Al Horford versatility that I pleasure myself to at night and it was beautiful to watch.

– Good news is it doesn’t look like Baynes is all that hurt after doing something weird against the Pacers. Huge exhale there but then again that man is the toughest sonofabitch I’ve ever seen.

– Welcome back Jaylen Brown. Something tells me he is in store for yet another massive postseason. As long as he defends first like Brad wants, we’re going to get plenty of this

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The Bad

– Obviously, it’s the injuries. I’m pretty sure Tatum’s bruised shin is nothing, although I did not appreciate all the mentions I got yesterday where people talked about how it could be a stress fracture. Can we fucking not right now? Positive vibes only for me one time. It sure doesn’t seem great that nobody told Brad about the injury before the game otherwise I doubt Brad even plays him, and if that’s something serious well then we have a gigantic issue on our hands. I don’t know if I have to tell you this but Jayson Tatum is pretty important.

But the Smart injury is different. This one has me legit rattled. Is it a bruised hip? A strained oblique? A bruised oblique? How many hours on WebMD is too many hours on WebMD? The good news is this team has a week before they even need Smart, but that still makes me nervous. There were a lot of fans upset that Brad even had Smart out there in that situation, but I mean it was a freak accident. You try telling Smart he can’t play when he feels 100% and see if you’re still a living and breathing human after the fact. People are only mad because something happened which I get, but I cannot see a scenario where Smart doesn’t will himself to play. He’ll fucking cut off his oblique and play on one leg if he has to that I am certain of.

– Let’s also talk about the defense because frankly it wasn’t all that great. I don’t know if this is a trend or something, but for whatever reason the Celtics second half defense has sneaky stunk for a while. Another 68 points given up last night, they basically let Terrance Ross and Evan Fournier do whatever the hell they wanted and that’s a problem.

Fournier cooked Jaylen/Smart in the second half to the tune of 6-9 shooting, Ross basically got the best of anyone who was defending him with 17 second half points, and these are things that we can’t see in the playoffs. Our perimeter defenders have to be lock down guys or the whole thing falls apart. Not to mention they once again had OREB issues which led to second chance points and big momentum plays, and that’s something that’s been plaguing this team for a while. We’ve yet to see that truly dominant Celtics defense for a while now, and if this team can’t defend it’s not going to matter what they look like offensively.

– Not for nothing, but the Celts did blow another double digit lead. Classic them.

The Ugly

– I don’t know what else to say about Marcus Morris. The man must be convinced he can shoot himself out of this slump, only we are seeing no signs of that actually being the case. Another 2-9 performance where 6 of those 9 were from behind the arc, it’s just painful at this point. How about doing something else to get you out of that slump? Maybe drive to the basket and get to the line or something? He’s been horrible for months now, is shooting himself out of the rotation, and hopefully Brad has big enough balls to limit him for when it matters most.

His defense and rebounding were good so maybe that’s why Brad continues to play him. But I’m willing to sacrifice that for the sake of this team.

– Not great when 7 of your team’s 13 TOs are coming from your two point guards. Nothing hurts this team more than careless basketball, and the end of the half is a perfect example. I think they had like 4 straight TOs to close the quarter or something like that, basically killing their nice lead heading into the break. That’s just a lack of mental focus in my opinion, and you do that in a playoff series and it’s curtain for you. This team has to get better at finishing quarters strong, this isn’t exactly new.

 


The Celts close the season out on Tuesday against WSH in another game that will mean nothing, so I fully expect it to be a Yabu/Semi/Timelord show. I don’t want to see any top 8 player get more than like 35 seconds on the floor. I don’t care about the win, I care about being healthy and rested for the biggest postseason run since the 2008 season. All year we heard about just wait until this team gets to the playoffs, well now they’re here. Let’s see what they can do.

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