When it rains, it sure as shit pours. Another brutal home loss in a game the Celts really needed to win. This is the issue with dropping games like the Bulls game and that disaster against OKC who literally just lost by a billion the other day. They come back to bite you every single time. It's why you have to handle your shit and that is not something the Celts have been able to do basically all season so far. This loss to the Blazers means more because the Celts fucked around and couldn't beat some of the worst teams in the league at the most important part of the season. That's on them. So when you wake up and see the Celts in 7th and in the current play in, don't be LeBron and cry like a fucking baby about it. Win. Play your way out of it.
Which brings me to my biggest point of this blog. We'll talk about the fourth quarter, but let me be PERFECTLY clear. The officials were not the reason the Celtics lost this game. Don't do that shit. The Celts lost this game through turnovers and blown defensive assignments in crucial moments. That's their own doing. Period. Despite everything that happened they were still in a position to win this game, and they didn't execute. You want to say some of the shit that went down was a factor? Sure, but it wasn't the reason. I'll show you things were brutal on both sides.
When you add up the result, the injuries, what it meant for the standings, it's safe to say that Sunday night was about as close to a nightmare scenario as one could get for this team right now. But nobody is to blame other than them for where they currently sit in the standings. Teams around them are finding ways to win. The Celts are quickly running out of time to be dropping winnable games if their goal is to get out of the play in tournament. That's just the truth.
So while we had the highest of highs after Tatum's 60 point performance, we now blog through some of the lowest of lows. That's just how this season has gone.
- Speaking of that Jayson Tatum fella, he sure is on a different level right now
It's not just the point totals, but it's how he's scoring that has made such a difference. We're seeing a much more aggressive Tatum in terms of attacking the basket, and it's helped his efficiency in a big way. We've seen him now finish at least 50% from the floor in 4 of his last 5, and you can tell he's in a zone right now because his three point shooting has been absolutely ridiculous. In those 5 games he's gone 50%, 40%, 70% and 80% in four of the,. He's making 4-6 3PM a night. It's some of the most beautiful offensive basically we've ever seen Tatum play.That's why it sucks that they are wasting these performances because Tatum has been legitimately incredible.
Take last night for example with Tatum going 11/19 from the floor. Of those 19 FGA, only 5 were from above the FT line. He made 4 of them. Tatum got to the line another 7 times which is great to see. He's not playing away from contact during this incredible month and it's paying off. When he's able to get 7-10 points from the FT line, we see him average 30+ with ease. Given how inconsistent this offense can be, this is the version of Tatum we're going to need the rest of the way.
Since April 1st when this run started, we're seeing Tatum drive to the rim 12.9 times a game and shoot 50.5% on those drives. What's encouraging is even when his 3 point shooting comes back down to earth a little bit, his scoring is still sustainable because he's not relying on low percentage looks to produce these massive scoring outputs. He's just changing his approach and attacking rather than settling for jumpers. It's opened everything up for him.
- It's an extremely small sample, I'm talking 3 games, but holy shit is Aaron Nesmith making it impossible for Brad to not give him legit and consistent minutes. Something tells me it's not an accident that the more he plays and the more comfortable he becomes, and everything else falls into place.
Look at how much more confident we're seeing Nesmith when it comes to his shooting. Brad is at the point now where he trusts Nesmithn enough to actually run sets for him and look what a difference it makes. We're not seeing him just run to the corner and immediately get rid of the ball if someone passes it to him. He's way more assertive, and that obviously comes with more reps. Add in that every game it seems he finds a way to make huge plays around the ball, especially on the offensive glass, and is playing some legit defense, there's no reason why his minutes or role should change right now.
If this is more along the lines of the type of player Nesmith can be, and you add that to what we already know about Payton Pritchard, well suddenly that Ainge draft looks a lot better doesn't it? Weird how that works.
- Despite the loss, I think we're all very happy for Evan Fournier and the performance he had on both ends
when you hear him talk postgame about how covid is legitimately fucking his shit up
it's hard to not feel for the guy. It's why anyone with a brain shouldn't be getting on him for his rough patches. We have no idea what he's going through as he comes back from this shit. Hopefully, last night is the start of his turnaround, but it's obvious the effects of covid are real for him, just like they were for Tatum. It was great to see Fournier not only knock down huge momentum shots, but also show up on the defensive end in big moments.
The biggest difference for me in this game was Evan shot the ball with confidence. There were shots he took and made in this game that he would be terrified of taking about a week ago because you could tell he didn't want to keep missing. I do not care about that shit with Fournier. I want him shooting. I want him to be aggressive. He didn't just forget how to score, I believe in his shooting ability and last night was a great sign that he's starting to work his way out of his slump.
- Payton Pritchard continues to run right through his rookie wall. It cannot be understated how important it is that he's back to being a consistent knock down shooter for that second unit
There was no denying he hit the rookie wall, but look at how he's done in the 10 games since.
22 minutes / 12.6 points / 3.4 rebounds / 1.7 asssists / 48% FG% / 46% 3P% with 2.6 3PM
That's about as ideal production as you could want from your backup point guard. He's shooting the ball with confidence, he's attacking the paint on a more consistent basis, and he's holding his own defensively. I'd say snapping out of his month long slump when he did came at the perfect time.
- While it's frustrating how this game ended, we still saw some good things. The ball moved, the Celts finished with 29 assists on 43 FGM, they shot great from three (20-39) and they had 36 points from the second unit. I'll take shit like that every day of the week. The shot making on both sides was simply ridiculous to start this game and really through the first half, and I'll admit I was surprised that the Celts could actually hang around in a game like that given how inconsistent their shooting can be.
- I don't know why, but I am always legit shocked every time I see Tristan Thompson miss these wide open bunny jump hooks. He had about 4 of them in this game and they come from about 2 feet. My brain just assumes they are going to go in so when he misses them short or something it's such a kick to the dick.
- We say it time and time again and it finally happened. When this team gets careless and turns the ball over, only bad things happen. They've had a turnover problem for about a month now, and when you do that to a team with actual talent, things tend to not work out. Last night it was 18 turnovers, 6 by Tatum, 3 by Jaylen and 3 by Smart that were all very painful. That led to 25 Blazers points. Wouldn't you say that played way more of an impact on the result than a couple of calls?
I would, because it did.
In the fourth quarter alone the Celts had 5 TOs. They made 7 FGM. Every single time we see them have a quarter in which they have nearly the same FGM as TOs, shit hits the fan. This dates all the way back to the bubble and the MIA series. When this team struggles and blows games, it's in large part because they do not take care of the basketball. That's on them, nobody else.
- We're going through a little bit of a valley when it comes to Marcus Smart right now. The 8 assists are great, but offensively he's struggling. Another 4-14 (3-9) performance, I just wish he would use his size more and attack the basket. Where the frustration comes is like what happened in that 3rd quarter. Jayson Tatum was unreal in the first half, and yet he took 2 FGA in the 3rd. Smart went 3-7. That's the stuff that cannot happen.
- While you have to credit some of it to just some great shot making by the Blazers, at the same time we are not seeing the Celts defend at the level we need them to be. Just look at their points allowed during this lull
125 vs CHA
119 vs OKC
140 vs SA
129 vs POR
That's horrendous. Teams are walking into their building and scoring 70+ points in a half on the regular. It all starts on the defensive end for me. If this team doesn't defend, they're cooked. When it comes to playing the Blazers, it's all about slowing down Dame/CJ right? Well they combined for 59 points with CJ really being a problem and here's how his matchups did
Fournier: 11 possessions / 4 points / 1-3 shooting
Tatum: 10 possessions / 7 points / 3-3 shooting
Smart: 6 possessions / 5 points / 2-2 shooting
Romeo: 6 possessions / 7 points / 3-5 shooting
I will say Smart was much better vs Dame (20 possessions, 3 points), but the issue was more how bad the Celts were when it came to weakside defense. Time and time again we saw Jaylen fall asleep with that, which is a problem. That's shit he used to do in his first few seasons so seeing it still happen to the degree we saw last night is concerning.
- Didn't help that Jaylen also shot 6-22 (1-9) but at the same time he probably shouldn't have even played given he as a busted ankle so that's whatever to me. Just kinda sucks on a night they really needed him to knock down a couple shots.
- Alright, let's just get this out of the way now. There is no denying that this goaltending call on Tristan Thompson is one of the worst calls you will ever see
There's just no way this is offensive goaltending. None. So to make that call, which came at a huge moment in the fourth quarter, is inexcusable. To then say that Brad called for the challenge too late which is also bullshit just so they wouldn't have to address a clear fuck up, is a problem.
I will say, the thing that was more brutal was the fact that right after this play you give up a three, and then the next trip down Smart has an inexcusable turnover which also leads to a three. Huge momentum swing, no two ways about it.
Then there are the two separate plays with Smart. All I ask is for some consistency. So when you have Normal Powell's call being a common foul because it was unintentional, where is that consistency when it came to the Nurkic screen?
Perhaps the illegal screen that was called on Nurkic played a role in how that play unfolded? Remember, this was a 3 point game with about 2 minutes left when that happened. That's another massive call.
I think we can all agree that in a game like this, nobody wants the officials to make themselves part of the game. The thing is, they were JUST as bad later for the Blazers. Payton Pritchard was 100000000000% in the circle on that Damian Lillard offensive foul. That had the potential to be a game altering play. I mean his heel was entirely in the circle with the official looking right at the play.
Maybe that was a makeup call, I'm not really sure, but it doesn't make it good. It's pathetic really that these officials can be so bad at huge moments of really really important games.
But what I simply cannot do is tell you that these calls are why the Celtics lost. They just aren't. Even with these issues, if the Celts don't turn the ball over and don't have mental lapses on the defensive end in the final moments, they win. The refs didn't force them to do that.
- And for the extra kick to the dick, we have what happened with 40 seconds left
Considering Jaylen's right ankle was already fucked up, this is not good. Tatum sounded like he'll be OK, but talk about a shit sandwich to end this game. It would not shock me in the least bit if we see Jaylen miss some time which could not come at a worse part of the season. If this isn't a nightmare, I don't know what is.
With Kemba already out, and now potentially Jaylen, this team is going to have to fight like hell to get out of the play in. Unless they tighten up defensive and stop turning the ball over, who knows if they can do it. Especially now with a couple main guys out. That's pretty much how the entire season has gone, and it's looking more and more like their terrible losses throughout the year could finally bite them in the ass.
Just a shit night all around, no matter how you slice it.