There is really no other way to describe what last night's loss to the Wizards was other than extremely frustrating and a little pathetic. The Wizards when healthy already kind of stink, so to lose to them while they are also decimated with injuries certainly isn't ideal. It's about as bad a loss as you can have if we're being honest with ourselves, and it was an outcome this team deserved given how they played. But at the same time, this is only the second loss ALL SEASON to a non playoff team or team under .500 so I can't get too worked up about it. This shit happens in the NBA from time to time. Shit, just last night the Bucks also got destroyed by the 15-20 Spurs with everyone healthy and active. Bad losses happen.
So my cause for concern isn't really about the result from last night. Instead, I'm more concerned with the fact that this team has sort of looked like shit over the last three games. We saw warning signs against the Hawks and Bulls, two games the Celts played down to their competition but were fortunate enough to win. Well it was more of the same against the Wizards, a bad start set the tone, only this time they didn't have the legs to get over the hump. It really reminded me of the TOR loss a few games ago when they were coming off a B2B. The thing is, the schedule isn't going to get any easier. So the Celtics played 3 games in 4 nights, well that's basically their life for the foreseeable future given the fact they played like 10 games in the first 3 months. They are going to have to find a way to win games against good and bad teams on sort rest, a ton of games in not that many nights, at home and on the road, you name it. Later this week they have a date with SA and then PHI on a back to back on the road, and then next week it's a B2B with MIL being the second game. It's not going to get easier so I would like to see this team have the mental toughness to not have that be a factor.
But at usual, we do not run and hide and not blog when things go bad. That's coward shit. If we want to puff our chest out when this team looks amazing we also have to take it on our chin and face the music when they look like shit and lose to a pretty bad team. So let's get into it.
- Honestly it's going to be a stretch to have anything in this section but everything needs a little bit of a spinzone and the best I can do is Jaylen's 23/12 and 7-7 performance from the FT line
I'm going to have to ask you to ignore the efficiency until a later section, but overall I thought Jaylen played with good energy and the same aggressive mindset that has him experiencing a breakout year. He was one of the few players that actually showed a pulse to start the game, and I thought his defense for the most part was fine. The Celts desperately needed his offense early to even remotely stay in the game, but it did feel like Jaylen settled a little too much for his outside shot after seeing an early three drop.
- Same thing with Tatum. Try your hardest to ignore the efficiency because we're going to be getting to that, and instead focus on the fact that it was seeing Tatum find a way to consistently finish at the rim
It was clear most of the FGA were going to come from the two Jays (they had 42) which I don't really have a problem with given Kemba was out and Hayward wasn't exactly feeling it, so part of me likes the aggressive approach from those guys. That's going to serve them well in the long run.
- I don't think it's a stretch to say this was one of the better performances from the bench rookies we've seen this season, mostly Grant and Tremont. Grant had a very solid 9/6 on 3-3 shooting including a three in his 25 minutes, and Tremont played only 7 minutes but had 8 points on 3-6 shooting and looked fucking awesome. This man is big time quick, and while it was only a short stint (no pun intended but intended), I get the feeling that his size isn't going to be an issue offensively if he's going to be pulling out hesitations like this
That's some Isaiah type hesitation if I've ever seen it. But the best part was Tremont also showed flashes of being a pest on the defensive end and looks like a guy that can absolutely hold down the backup's backup point guard duties when needed.
- I can't lie, this moment warmed my heart. Just a whole lot of love from everyone involved
While it hurt the Celts, it was great to see Isaiah look healthy and drop 17 points on 6-13 shooting. If a random January loss was the price to pay to see Isaiah do Isaiah things then so be it. Will always have love for that man for what he did while he was on this team and the league is better when he's cooking offensively.
- OK enough of that bullshit though, let's get to the real point of this blog. Let's start with the first quarter because if you've been paying attention this is now the third straight game in which the Celtics have come out beyond flat and lifeless to start a game. It's infuriating, it's playing with fire, it's stupid, you name it. For whatever reason this offense simply can't find a way to put the ball in the basket in the first 12 minutes. In this game it was a cool 17 points on 30/25% shooting which is painful enough but then you realize they had 6 TOs to 7 FGM and it really makes your blood boil. Or maybe that's just me. I can handle cold shooting, this is the Celtics after all and it's not exactly my first rodeo. What I can't accept is lazy sloppy basketball in addition to terrible shooting and poor shot selection and that is what we got in the first quarter. Against the Hawks and Bulls they were able to overcome it, but that's no way to live and more often than not it bites you in the ass, like it did last night.
- It would have been really cool if Gordon Hayward at least hit the rim on that HUGE corner three down 4 with like 1:21 left. That's a tough one to air ball and certainly not what I expected to happen. Passing up multiple good looks for an air ball corner three is a tough pill to swallow but it also summed up the night perfectly.
- Nobody was willing to talk about how solid Brad Wanamaker had been while filling in about a month ago, so to be fair and balanced I also have to talk about how he's pretty much sucked the last month. I mean this ain't it
We had grown accustomed to the 10+ point on 50% FG% lifestyle when it came to Wanamaker minutes, and honestly he has been nowhere near that good for some time now. It's tough because Brad trusts him, but at the same time given how this second unit looks they really need him to be much better or maybe just give those minutes to Tremont/Carsen. His 0-fer last night was rough and that's being kind.
- Always fun when you win the rebounding battle, win the 2nd chance points battle, win the fast break points battle, take and make more FTs, yet you led exactly ZERO times in this ballgame. That's hard to do. A wire to wire loss against a team that you have no business losing to in the first place is what I would call bad.
- Just like the TOR game, this was a situation where the Celts couldn't find a way to get that one momentum run in order to take control. Every time they got close there was some bullshit like a Jordan McRae three or something. When this team needed to buckle down and get that defensive stop and follow it up with a high percentage play to take control of the game they just never had it. That's the frustrating part. It was sort of like how we were all waiting for the Pats to take control on Saturday and they never did.
- Statistically speaking, this had to be one of the worst shooting nights of the season. In fact it was worse than that, how about their last 120 games?
I really hate when the Grande truth bombs gut you like that. I prefer the ones that show how awesome this team is personally.
When you think about it, it's pretty embarrassing that against a defense that has shown the inability to stop a nosebleed and gives up a billion points a night that a top 6 offense couldn't find a way to break 100 or shoot a respectable percentage. I don't care that there was no Kemba, there is still enough offensive talent on this roster to shot shoot 34/21%. Like if this team was just pathetic offensively instead of downright abysmal the Celts probably win this game. That's the annoying part. 8-37 from three? Grow up.
- Also not great when Hayward/Tatum take a combined 2 FTA. On a night where nothing was falling you would think I dunno be aggressive and try and get easy points at the line so you can see the ball go through the hoop. In addition to that, didn't love that Tatum only had 1 rebound. Yikes.
- Which brings me to the shooting of the two Jays. Love them, will die for them, but can't have 15-42 performances I don't care how many games they've played in a short timeframe. That's unacceptable and Jaylen reaaaaallly fell off in the second half. a combined 3-14 from deep, the duo that has won this team a lot of games was a big part in why they lost. As Brad always says, you gotta make your open jumpshots and they weren't fucking close. With Tatum it felt like he was settling for tough contested jumpers far too often and Jaylen tried to shoot himself out of his slump only to dig himself deeper. Tough to win when neither of those guys are efficient.
- Same story with Marcus. We all know he does a million things in a game that help you win, but his offense is hurting this team and it's OK to say it. Doesn't mean he sucks or anything like that, but it means he needs to tone it down. I am all for him taking an open three within the flow of an offense. What I am not for is the 3-14 (3-10) we got last night. Marcus is never at his best when the only shots he takes are threes, and he's now down to like 31% on the season from behind the arc. I dunno if he was overcompensating for no Kemba, but something needs to be said to him about his offensive approach. Use your size and athleticism to get to the rim and get fouled. It's that simple.
- Turnovers turnovers turnovers. Another 16 last night, 4 from Jaylen, some awful ones from Kanter, and you do that shit on . the road to help give a team momentum and that's how your ass gets beat.
- If you were making a starting lineup of Celtics killers, Ish Smith has to be the starting point guard. He's one of those random players that KILLS this team whenever he sees them and he went nuclear in the fourth quarter of this game. It's fairly annoying that a team with these supposed elite perimeter defenders couldn't stop him to save their lives.
He buried the Celtics all by himself with that 8-0 run in the fourth and sometimes you just have to tip your cap to a guy clearly in the zone but shit man that was infuriating.
The good news is when we've seen this team have these sort of bad losses before, it usually serves as a nice wakeup call and they come back refocused and go on a nice little run. With a huge H2H with PHI on Thursday this team doesn't exactly have the luxury of dicking around and playing like shit, they need to get this out of their system and get back to being the team we've seen in 32 of their 34 games. I can assure you if they play this way against either SA or PHI they are going to get blown out, so hopefully now that this is out of their system we won't have to worry about it.