A few things are becoming clear about this team now that we are inching closer to a quarter of the way through the season. It appears as though no matter how shitty they look at any given moment they'll find a way to be in most games even if they are short handed, and if this team is actually going to lose you can take it to the bank that it's going to be a big time gut punch. What do I mean? Well, the Celts have 5 losses on the season, and 4 of them have been decided by 5 points or less. The positive sign is they have been right there in almost every game this season and have yet to truly be blown out. That's encouraging given they have been without Hayward for all 4 of these losses. The bad sign is this does mean their late game execution could use some improvement, which is sort of what we saw yesterday. These home and homes are always a little tricky, especially when you win the first and then go on the road for the second, and the fact that it was an early start after Thanksgiving didn't help but it didn't seem to impact BKN all that much so I'm not willing to let the Celts off the hook. We're at a point where all the teams around them in the standings are playing well and going on winning streaks, so even if there's no shame in losing on the road to a team that has been 6-2 since Kyrie got hurt, the Celts can't really afford to be dropping these type of games.
Whether they have been close or not, the Celts still have lost 4 of their last 7 which most certainly is not ideal, including their last 3 on the road all against teams .500 or better. It's clear they have some shit to figure out before their 10 game winning streak to start the year is basically meaningless, and with another month at least until Hayward gets back, this is the group that is going to have to do it. Alright, let's get started
- Not many decided to show up in this game offensively, but at least we saw Jayson Tatum not only play well, but his efficiency and three point shooting finally looked like the player we remember
26/9 with 4 steals on 10-19 shooting (4-8 from deep) Tatum was pretty much the only consistent offensive option the Celts had in this game. It was a good combination of effective midrange, timely three point shooting, and while I would have loved to see him take more than 2 FTA, I think in the short term it was pretty important for Tatum to see the ball go through the hoop with his jumper. We all know what his shooting splits are to start the year (they're bad), and I liked the aggressiveness of Tatum's game from start to finish. He continues to rebound really well for his position which is huge for this team, and even though he only had 3 FGA at the rim which is low, he didn't take one bad contested long two which tells me he took what the defense gave him and was effective.
Now let's just see if he can maintain this efficiency.
- Another game, another very solid outing off the bench for Brad Wanamaker. It's at the point now where I will be legit shocked if he doesn't throw up 10+ points on 50%+ shooting. He finished with 11/8/3 on 4-7 shooting and honestly it was his play on the second unit that kept the Celtics in this game. The one thing that is pretty clear when you watch him play is how in control he is in transition. Seeing as how this team struggles big time at finishing at the rim in the form of layups, to see Wanamaker flourish in that area is great to see. This is why Brad trusts him, and this is why he's earned his minutes and deserves every one of them. Wanamaker has proven to be a steady option as this team waits for Hayward to recover for the second unit, and I can only imagine what they would look like without his production.
- Despite the loss, the Celts still held the own on the glass (48 vs 49), did a good job in the paint (50 vs 48) and in 2nd chance points (13 vs 13) and were much better on the break (19 vs 8). They didn't defend the paint as well as they did on Wednesday, but the fact that they are hanging around against teams on the glass and in the paint is a pleasant surprise. It's basically been that way in every game which is not something most saw coming.
- He doesn't play much, but I continue to be happy with what Semi is giving this team in his limited role. He's started to knock down his open three (38% this month), which is huge for him. You know what he's going to give you defensively, but if he can make 1 or 2 threes a night he's going to find himself on the floor more often.
- OK, enough of that bullshit, let's get to the meat of this blog. To nobody's surprise, guess who once again started a game like complete dogshit. Normally you'd say well it was a weird start time so of course a team started slow, but not the Celtics. There are few things they love more in this world than looking like complete shit on both ends in the first quarter. I've really never seen anything like it.
On the season BOS ranks 29th in the league in first quarter scoring and 28th in first quarter FG%. Over the last few weeks (since November 14th) it's been 30th and 30th. Maybe you aren't aware but that's the worst in the entire NBA. Guess when all these losses have come? Oh right, since November 14th. That feels related. In this game it wasn't so much their offense, they scored 24 points on 52% shooting, but instead on the other end. Slow starts defensively are just as costly as the games they only score 13 points in 12 minutes or some shit. You go on the road and you play with this sort of fire, you're going to get burned almost every time. They've been lucky these last few games where their slow starts haven't hurt them, but who would say that shit is sustainable? Figure it the fuck out.
- If we want to puff our chest out when this team looks incredible on the defensive end, well we have to acknowledge when they suck ass. I'm looking at you Jaylen, Marcus, Kemba, and Theis. You tell me if you think this is acceptable defense
If you said "yes", you are a lying asshole. I don't care who you play, when your best defenders are putting up that sort of disgusting defense you don't stand a chance. Marcus/Kemba got torched by Dinwiddie pretty much all night, and it looked as though this team had never defended a pick and roll in their entire lives. The big, whether it was Kanter or Theis basically couldn't make up their mind if they were going to stop the ball or stay with their man, there was no weakside help and BKN got whatever they wanted. That's a problem that needs to be addressed immediately because every team will see that film and P&R this team to death.
- I know they are rookies and things are going to be bad before they get good, but this team really needs more from Carsen and Grant. Offensively they've been pretty much zeros, and it most certainly was not a great night defensively for either. Grant had all sorts of problem when switching against a guard on the perimeter, Carsen can't seem to find his shot and is pretty much a walking 1-5 from the floor. Maybe he'd benefit from some Maine reps, but given who is available on this bench this team needs those two to actually produce.
- Brad talks a lot about how the big situation is going to change from game to game, but I did not love his rotation decisions in this game at that position. Too much Grant late and not enough Timelord. If you want to put blame for this loss you can't forget Brad, and this certainly is not the first time his rotation decisions ended up not working out. That one stretch late in the fourth really cost them.
- It doesn't happen often, but this team is going to struggle when both Marcus and Kemba do more harm than good. Offensively it was a tough 10-32 (2-14), defensively it wasn't much better and I felt like both lost their composure due to noncalls/bad calls. Marcus who impacts games with winning plays did pretty much the exact opposite, and Kemba never seemed to get going, even in the fourth quarter where he's been great all year. It goes without saying how important these two are, so when they struggle the team will struggle.
- This entire video is disgusting
Brutal officiating, terrible defense, it was the perfect storm of shit. This is what I mean about late game execution on the road. When things don't go your way how do you respond? In this game the Celts decided to respond like dickheads.
- I didn't know transition plays could be so hard, but then I watched this team try and run a fast break and I'm pretty sure I had an aneurysm.
- I talked about it after the game Wednesday, but this team currently has a problem defending the perimeter and limiting opponent threes and it was only a matter of time before it bit them in the ass. Over the last three games they've now allowed 18, 21, and 17 3PM. For a team that is only averaging 12 3PM to opponents on the year, that shit is pathetic. Some of them you live with, like when Dinwiddie hit that side step three in the corner late. That's just a tough shot. But that's not what we saw for the most part. We saw blown assignments, late closeouts, shit that an elite defensive team doesn't do. Considering the Nets JUST did this shit against them on Wednesday, it was pretty brutal to watch the Celtics make zero adjustments.
- Not sure what you expect to happen when you turn it over 19 times and only have 16 assists on the road. Both of those numbers are so uncharacteristic of this team I almost don't want to believe what my eyes saw but it did in fact happen. No ball movement leads to mostly isolation offense and guess which team ranks in just the 55th percentile in isolation offense?
- Somehow still in the game heading into the fourth quarter, you allow 50/57% shooting and turn it over 7 times. As a team, the Celts had just 9 FGM. You do that shit you deserve everything that happens to you. Clean it up.
They play again on Sunday against the Knicks and if you remember it took a Tatum buzzer beater to beat that team the last time they played, and the Knicks just played PHI tough on Friday. That's certainly no layup and then things get tough with home games against MIA/DEN. That's why blowing a game like this hurts because things are not about to get any easier. While I am interested to see how this team responds to adversity and all that, I'd prefer if they didn't play like dickheads and throw away games that are very winnable and that's what Friday afternoon was.