I told you guys, mentally prepare for some weird shit to happen on this West Coast trip, especially in SAC. It feels like every year it's the same story in that building. Last year you'll remember there was the 1 point loss on the Marcus Smart missed floater to blow the 10 game winning streak. In fact, did you know the last 5 times these two teams have played no team has won by more than 6, and three of those games have been decided by 2 points or less. For whatever reason, these two teams always play each othe close.
Now, part of me really fucking annoyed that this team once again couldn't win a very winnable game due to pretty pathetic fourth quarter play, but how mad can you really be when their top 3 guards in the rotation didn't play? Like yes, if the Celtics have to play heavy minutes in the playoffs with Tremont Waters and Jeff Teague things will not go well. No shit. But that's true with any team in the league if you remove their two starters and the first guard off the bench and play end of bench guys big minutes. So this is more a frustrating loss that really doesn't tell us shit moving forward. You're not going to see this team go 13 deep in a playoff series, so I wouldn't get too bent out of shape about it when thinking about this team long terms.
But that still doesn't excuse them from what we saw last night. Despite being shorthanded, that was still a winnable game and it should annoy the shit out of you that they blew it. This now makes 5 of their 9 losses games that were two possession games. That's a dogshit ability to close games if you ask me, I don't care who is out there. Last time I checked both Jays played last night, so that should have been enough.
The reason this one stings a little more is you look at their schedule and see LAC/PHX/UTA remaining. Last night was a big chance to help finish this trip at least 3-2 which would be a huge win. But because this team never makes things easy on themselves, it'll be an uphill battle the rest of the way. But before we look that far ahead, we first have to talk about what we saw last night.
- While guys are out, it's pretty important that this team's two best players find ways to be as efficient as possible. That didn't really happen in this game and it was pretty costly. For example, I thought for the most part JaysonTatum played pretty well. Just because they lost doesn't mean a 27/9/10 night for him stinks.
What stunk was the 11-26 (2-10) shooting. That just has to be better, no two ways about it. But this was also our first look at Point Guard Tatum and you know what? It wasn't half bad! The 4 TOs weren't ideal, but this was a great display of his improved playmaking. I trust Tatum to initiate offense and create for others far more than any reserve point guard not named Payton Pritchard who just so happens to not be back yet. I didn't know what to expect from Tatum in this role mostly because we've never really seen him at the one, but it wasn't as much of a disaster as maybe some thought.
He also showed up in the fourth quarter. A total of 13 points on 4-9 shooting, Tatum showed up when it mattered, he just needed some help.
- We also witnessed the best Celtics performance by far from Tristan Thompson.
I don't know who this guy is, but this is the Tristan Thompson I want. All the time. How do we make that happen? Is it a case of just playing bad frontcourts that can't handle his strength, or is it possible he's maybe figuring things out? Probably a combination of the two but all I know is he looked a billion times better. Maybe it's a health thing, maybe it's a confidence thing, I don't really care what it is as long as we get more of it. There's a chance this signing could actually not be a complete disaster, let's give it some time.
In fact, this looked like the Thompson that always used to ruin my life. He was finishing around the basket. He finally wasn't short on his little jump hook, he rebounded, and I thought defensively he was as advertised. Probably could have used him in the fourth quarter, but we'll talk about that later.
- I think maybe a reason we didn't see Thompson late is because of how well Rob was actually playing. This was yet another stint where Rob showed real impact on both ends
One of the things we're learning about Rob is it's maybe a good idea to make sure he shares minutes with Tatum. Why? Well because when Tatum drives to the rim he commands so much attention that it leaves Rob wipe open for easy putbacks. He needs to share the floor with guys that will attack the rim and make defenses rotate. He played 18 minutes last night, which was third among bigs and frankly I would have liked to see more of him. Part of it was a matchup issue once the Kings went smaller, but Rob continues to show this team that he's ready for more consistent minutes.
I mean he was 3-3 with 6/3 in his 7 fourth quarter minutes, so it's not like he didn't deserve to be out there.
- I'm ready to say it. Daniel Theis' three point shooting is real. It was real bad to start the season and I won't lie, that was very concerning. The idea of him being a stretch 5 who can consistently hit open threes was a big part of the plan offensively. That's what helps create all the space for the Jays/Kemba. Well, I'm happy to report he's now shooting 40% from three on a career high 3PA. He shot 52.4% in the month of January and is off to a 50% start so far in February. He won't always be that high obviously, but Daniel Theis shooting threes is back to being a weapon, and that is a GREAT sign moving forward.
- Harrison Barnes aced his TPE audition. Something to keep an eye on.
- OK, now the real reason we are all here. Where do we begin. I suppose the bench if a good place to start. I'm not sure how good it is when your entire bench (28 points) nearly gets outscored by one player on theKings bench (Haliburton had 21). Javonte and Grant were a combined -25. This is what happens I guess when you are down players, but this is not a new concept for this team. We can't on one end always praise the Hospital Celtics and then when they suck ass then go "well, people were out". I'm sorry, but if you're going to play I need you to actually do something to help. It can't just be Rob.
- For me, it all starts defensively. The Celtics played one good quarter of defense in this game. That's just not going to cut it, I don't care who they are playing. Outside of the 22 point first quarter, the Kings never had another quarter under 29 points. In the fourth, where we needed to see this team tighten things up, they allowed 35 points. Another fourth quarter that started with 3 team fouls in the first 90 seconds, resulting in the Celtics playing about 10 minutes in the bonus. Pretty sure the Kings going 12-13 from the line in the fourth was important in a 5 point game.
This is certainly not the first time we've seen this team unable to defend without fouling. It's a problem and it's why they are having trouble in these close games. They can't defend and get stops without fouling. Bench guys, starters, everyone. That needs to stop immediately or things won't improve.
- I know some might think it's a bit, but do we all see how important FTs are, especially fourth quarter FTs? The Celtics went 6-11 in the fourth quarter. How much did they lose by? 5? Oh that's awesome.
- Let me be very clear about something. This play was NOT why the Celtics lost, but this is the bad section and this was a pretty brutal blown call that you could argue changed how the flow of the game was going. Remember this play?
A play that is so obviously a goaltend I don't know how anyone could suggest otherwise. On no planet was that ball on the way up. That's just a fact. How do I know this? The officials admitted it to Jaylen
A pretty big miss late in the fourth quarter if you ask me. That potentially makes it 99-93 with 5 minutes left. A huge momentum AND1. Instead, it left the foor open, the Celts couldn't get stops without fouling and it was 97-100 in a blink of an eye. It does feel like every game there is at least one of these moments for the Celts, and it sure is annoying.
- How does one even describe the performance we witnessed from Jeff Teague and Tremont Waters. I mean holy shit. How is it possible for two guys to play that much and be so terrible? To the point where they are unplayable but you have to play them because you have no bodies available. You want to know why the Celtics lost this game, look no further than their point guard production. Jeff Teague was 1-6 in his 23 minutes. Tremont Waters was 1-8 in his 23 minutes with absolute dogshit shot selection. Honestly, Marcus Smart's shot selection I don't think has ever been that bad.
It just needs to be said, but NEITHER guy is an NBA caliber point guard. That's the reality. I know people like Tremont because he's a good story and all that, but he's not an NBA caliber player right now and might never be. He can't shoot at this level and he doesn't know when to not shoot. We've seen enough in his limited appearances to know. He's no different than any other point guard taken in the 50s for this team. He's Lester Hudson, Kadeem Allen, Marcus Thornton etc.
If either of these guys give the Celtics ANYTHING in this game, they probably win. That's the bar. Just don't be a complete and utter disaster and things will be OK, and they couldn't even do that. I'm at the point now where I think point guard needs to be addressed at the deadline. I know we have FastPP…..but he's a rookie. This team cannot put all their eggs in that basket, especially in the playoffs. Point guard is a big time hole on this roster and last night was a prime example why.
- Brad most certainly deserves his fair share of heat for this one too. I see no reason why Tristan Thompson couldn't have closed this game, but instead he went with Grant. It's no surprise that a bunch of OREB late killed this team. That probably doesn't happen with Thompson in there given how he was playing, so yeah Brad fucked that one up big time.
Here's the thing with Grant. On one end he made that huge three to bring it to 110-108 with a minute left. Huge shot. But then to come right back down and do this?
What the fuck are you doing? That might be the dumbest goddamn foul I've ever seen. You're in the bonus, you've been in the bonus all quarter, you need one defensive stop to tie the game and you do that? Right in front of an official? Just a bonehead mistake that was pretty costly if you ask me.
This is not a situation where Grant is someone that never plays. He has to know the situation and be better prepared. There was no need for that! Just switch the screen normal like anyone else with a brain in that moment would have done. Horrible mistake.
We knew this team wasn't going to go 5-0 on the trip, and deep down you knew that if they were to lose it would probably come in an extremely frustrating fashion. There is still an opportunity to salvage this trip and all that shit, so take a deep breath. My guess is Kemba will play against the Clippers and we'll probably have Pritchard back which should end the Jeff Teague experience.
But the facts are this team blew another winnable game in what is becoming a pretty annoying trend.