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The Game 2 Performance By The Celtics Was An Insult To The Game Of Basketball

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I’m not mad, I’m disappointed. While the rational side of my brain is happy that the Celtics went into Milwaukee, a place where the Bucks were undefeated this postseason and a East leading 33-8 during the year and came away with the split which was the overall goal of these first two games, I can’t help but feel like they left a prime opportunity on the table in Game 2. But then I remember this is the Celtics, the team I know better than perhaps anything in my life. Deep down I knew they would not make things easy on themselves because that’s not how they operate. We’ve seen this from them a billion times over the course of the year, and while it’s never fun to get your dick blown off and give your opponent new life, I can’t sit here and say I’m surprised with how things went down last night. The blowout win in Game 1 was the surprise, nobody saw that coming. But if you told me the Celtics were going to get destroyed in one of the two games in MIL I don’t even bat an eye at that.

But make no mistake, the Celtics should be embarrassed with their performance. That wasn’t basketball, and I don’t care that the score was close until that run in the third quarter. The Celts went out and did everything we pray they wouldn’t do on both ends, and the Basketball Gods showed us what happens when you dick around like that. This Bucks team is too good and can kill you too quickly for you to waste possessions like the Celts did in this game and now they put all the pressure on themselves to come through in Games 3 and 4.

So look, last night was gross there’s no real way to spin that. If they play like that again in this series we’re going to see the same result. But the reality is, they did what they had to do and are still in the drivers seat in this series. Just win at home and Game 2 doesn’t mean a goddamn thing. As you know we don’t just talk about the good times, we get each other through the rough ones, so let’s get started.

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The Good

– This next sentence feels really weird to type, and even weirder that it’s true. Marcus Morris has been really, really good this series

I think when we saw Brad insert him into the starting lineup we were all confused given the fact that Mook has pretty much sucked for the last 4 months. There’s regression, and then there’s whatever the hell has been going on with his shot. But he’s had two solid games to start this series, is shooting 70/54% with 2.0 3PM so far and is also holding his own on the glass. He surprisingly hasn’t had terrible shot selection which I can’t imagine anyone would have predicted, and defensively he’s owning his matchups. I feel like we’re all so quick to jump on him when he starts shooting like an asshole, we should be just as quick to recognize when Mook is playing well. Now will this continue for the whole series? Who fucking knows because this man is impossible to predict, I just know that everything I’ve seen form him so far has been a positive.

– It takes a certain amount of crazy to willingly challenge Giannis at the rim, and I’m starting to think that Jaylen just may be that crazy. We’ve had numerous occasions where most players would bail out of a play at the rim with Giannis, but Jaylen refuses to back down and ends up doing some pretty crazy shit. I thought his aggressiveness last night was probably the best on the team, and he’s another guy that is having himself a pretty good start to this series

As we know, Jaylen is at his best when he uses his athleticism to get into the paint and doesn’t settle, and one quick look at his shot chart tells me he had the perfect approach

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If he’s going to have someone like Mirotic on him, this is what we need to see. That matchup happened 28 times last night and Jaylen had 9 points, so moving forward in Game 3 I’m going to need Brad to figure out a way to exploit that matchup a bit more.

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– The best part of Al Horford is that he’s consistent. You know what you’re going to get from him night in and night out and last night was more of the same

Outside of his turnovers, there really wasn’t all that much to complain about with Horford. He shot the ball well at 6-10, made his threes, rebounded well and actually did a decent job on Giannis. He held him to 3-7 shooting on 29 possessions, and as expected got a little rougher of a whistle but that’s going to happen with Giannis. I’ll take this version of Al over the course of this series, especially if his three point shot is coming back.

– I was surprised to see the Celts had more points in the paint on a night where they couldn’t buy a bucket. Given that MIL is one of the best paint scorers in the league I did not expect that.

The Bad

– OK, where to start. I suppose we should start with the basics, and something I pretty much put into every single one of these blogs because it’s an area I truly believe is the determining factor when it comes to the Celtics.

Defense and rebounding.

From a defense standpoint, it was really bad. I mean really bad. The Celts were soft, didn’t really own their space as Brad likes to say, and when it came to defending the three point line it was nonexistent. The third quarter especially when MIL came out and shot 57/66%, but really it was a whole game issue. After MIL’s slow start they shot 50% in the second quarter, 57% in the third, and then 47.7% in the fourth. You credit the Bucks for knocking down their open shots, but you question the Celtics decision to just leave so many guys open and be so poor at closeouts. Up and down the roster I see guys that got destroyed in their individual matchups. Jaylen had all sorts of trouble on Middleton (14 points, 5-6 shooting), Rozier didn’t win this round against Bledsoe, and as a whole the communication just felt bad.

Then in terms of rebounding, the Celts lost this battle 54-45. It’s not an accident that in all their wins they’ve played lock down defense and won the rebounding battle. That’s the key to everything. A total of 11 OREB led to 20 MIL 2nd chance points and that just cannot happen on the road in a hostile environment. You’re just begging to be blown out.

– You know what really stinks? Finishing this game with 19 assists on 34 FGM. This was the Celtics offense we all hate, the ball stuck, guys tried to go isolation time and time again to no avail, there was no ball movement or anything like that. It always puzzles me when we see the Celts play like this because we have more than enough evidence that it never works. I question where Brad was with this too, no plays? No taking guys out if they aren’t listening to you? Just an epic failure from everyone involved when it came to this team’s offense.

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– It feels like the Celts blew a prime opportunity if only because it’s no lock they play flawless basketball at home. They were 28-13 this year which is good, but not “there’s no doubt that they won’t lay a stinker in this building” good. The 2-0 lead would have really helped there because as we know this team is not afraid to come out and shoot 37% in their own building.

– Kyrie talked about how maybe they shot too quickly, himself included and I wanted to see if that was true. He’s right, but it really wasn’t that bad from a production standpoint when you look at the breakdown

24-22 seconds: 2-2

22-18 seconds: 3-7 (0-2)

18-15 seconds: 7-15 (4-7)

15-7 seconds: 16-47 (5-16)

7-4 seconds: 3-8 (1-1)

4-0 seconds: 3-7 (0-2)

Now what I think he’s referring to is that stretch in the third quarter which we’re going to get to that ultimately lost this team the game, but to me it seemed like this team’s struggles came more from trying to break down a set MIL defense.

– They say it’s a make or miss league right? Well on open looks the Celts went 7-21 and 4-11 from three. On wide open looks they were a little better at 9-19 and 6-13. The Bucks were much better at knocking down their open looks, especially from three (57%), and that’s going to happen over the course of this series. Both teams can light it up from deep, the Celts had it rolling in Game 1 and the Bucks didn’t, Game 2 was the opposite. Shit happens.

– I think it goes without saying that for this team to be successful we’re going to need more than a 3-15 performance from Terry/Hayward. They were a combined -31, and -30 of that came from Hayward. Again offensively it was everything we hate in terms of Hayward mostly standing in the corner and this team really not letting him touch the ball/create. He had a 9.6% usage rate which is absolutely unacceptable. Sure he played 30 minutes which was nice, but maybe they should ya know, actually use him?

The Ugly

– No question, this was the worst playoff performance of Kyrie’s career. And it may or may not be fair but given his role on this team, he cannot have performances like that at this time of year. He wants to be the leader and the star and all that well that’s the reality. Kyrie can’t have a bad game if this team wants to win, period. It felt like nothing he took was an easy shot, he was careless with the ball and nonexistent on the defensive end. Normally we see him shoot his way out of these type of slumps but last night he just didn’t have it. I can understand not wanting to be too mad at him because he’s been so incredible this entire postseason so far, but this is the series they really need him to consistently play at that insane star level. They didn’t get that.

What I did like though is he immediately took responsibility for his play. No typical Kyrie word vomit so that was nice, and now all the pressure is on him to come through in Game 3.

– We can’t sit here and praise Jayson Tatum for the series he had against IND while also ignoring how absolutely brutal he has been in this series. Two games where he was a non factor offensively, and while Game 1 consisted of him at least played solid defense, we didn’t get that in Game 2. It’s sort of the same issue as Kyrie, none of Tatum’s shots for the most part aside from that breakaway dunk to open were easy looks. The Celts aren’t getting him in positions for him to exploit matchups, and finding a way to unlock Tatum offensively has to be the #1 adjustment heading into Friday. It’s clear he’s having trouble winning the matchup with Middleton, so they need to find ways for him to be matched up with someone else.

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– OK, the third quarter. It’s where the game was lost and it had everything to do with poor shot selection and careless basketball. Impossible to come out of that thing alive when you have more TOs (8) than FGM (7) and it was this stretch in particular that really made my blood boil

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You know how Brad talks about wasting possessions and how deadly that is for this team? You see it three times in those 90 seconds where this went from a 3 point game to double digits. Kyrie settled and took a bad three, then Jaylen came right back down and did the same shit and wasn’t close. Then because they sometimes play like assholes it was Hayward’s turn to try from the same spot and got the same result. Again, this MIL team is too lethal to have wasted possessions like this where the offense just settles for low percentage hero ball attempts. This shit cannot continue.

– Do not even think about complaining about the officials. Yes, that one 5 step Giannis travel was bad, but the FTs for the most part were even, nobody on the Celts really got in early foul trouble, and it had zero impact on this blowout. The Celtics were responsible for what happened and those are the facts.


So look, the same way Bucks fans didn’t think Game 1 shooting wise was repeatable for the Celtics, I have a feeling they won’t be setting a franchise record in 3PM three more times. If anything this series is playing out how we all thought, it’s a toss up. Both teams are capable of beating the other by 20+. The good news is the Celts haven’t lost at home yet and last time I checked if you’re going to win in 6 you still have to lose twice. Go out and win Game 3 and it’s almost as if this blowout never even happened.