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The Celtics Once Again Choked Down The Stretch To Lose Another Double OT Thriller

Mitchell Layton. Getty Images.

I don't know about you, but I'll be happy if I never have to watch another double OT game involving the Celts for the rest of my goddamn life. I mean what is going on. I'm not sure, but I'm willing to bet the Celts have set an NBA record in OT games to start a season and frankly I don't really care for it. Granted that's because they are now 1-2 in these situations with two of the losses being double OT kicks right to my dick, but still. If we've learned one thing through the first six games of the season it's that this team is going to put us in a torture chamber night in and night out. They can't help it. We should have known when every preseason game they had came down to the last second. It's a little wild that this team is a few possessions from being 4-2 while at the same time being a few possessions from 1-5. That's life in the NBA though, you have to handle your business. The margin for error is so small on any given night that if you don't execute when you need to, you can find yourself in an early 2-4 hole. If you look at the Knicks 2OT loss and then last night, you'll see the Celts had every opportunity to win both. While last night might have included some iffy officiating that shockingly didn't go their way, they still choked. I think both can be true. 

It's also true that you can point out that it's still early, and the season is not over after 6 games while also acknowledging that the level of play we are watching simply isn't good enough. Last night wasn't about effort, it was more about execution. Down two starters or not, the Celts not only had had enough talent available to win, but they had multiple chances to seal the deal and they blew it. They allowed the Wizards to hang around in the first OT and things usually end poorly when that shit happens. 

By now you should know the deal. We don't avoid the blog when this team causes us immense pain and frustration. We don't only blog the good times. We sack up, blog through the shitstorm and hope for better days ahead. Let's do it.

The Good

- One of the more frustrating parts for me when I think about this latest 2OT loss is the fact that this team is wasting some of the best basketball Al Horford has ever played. I feel for him. All Al has done since coming back to the Celts is be the best version of himself we've ever seen. This man looks 25 not 35. I'm a realist, I know this level of play probably won't last forever, but just watch what this dude is doing

His legs look spry as shit, his on ball defense/ability to continue to block everything a quicker player does when they take him to the rim has been such a surprise. I feel like he wasn't even doing this shit at this rate during his first stint in 2016. I'm not sure what I even thought the best case scenario with Al might look like, but it's certainly not at this level especially defensively. Al has now taken over the lead from Rob in terms of leading the NBA in blocks at 3.8 a night. 3.8!! He's never had a season where he averaged more than 1.5 blocks a game in his entire career! Obviously that will regress but it just shows you how impactful he's been on the defensive end. I think him looking so good to start the season is why I'm not overly panicked just yet. Considering he's also coming off Covid, I think we can all agree that Al has been fantastic.

- It's also a good sign in my opinion that every time Ime has called this team out, they've responded. Look at Jaylen last night. Ime called out his performance against the Wizards the first time, and what did he do? He came out guns firing and put this team on his back

Jaylen got back to carrying this team in first quarters like he has for the last few years now with 8 points on 4-5 shooting, and the good news is he didn't disappear as the game went on. In fact, he carried them throughout finishing 14-24 including what was the go ahead bucket with about a minute left in regulation. This now marked his 3rd 30th point effort in the first 6 games and even with his two stinkers is still shooting 48.5% from the floor to start the year. When it comes to scoring and finishing at the rim, Jaylen is up to 77.4% which is an insane number for a wing. In fact, you won't find any other wing in the NBA with that high of a FG% in the restricted area. That's the 8th best FG% in the league and the rest are PFs and Cs. Last night was no exception when you see his shot chart

I love aggressive Jaylen. In a game where the Wizards didn't always have a rim protector on the floor, Jaylen did not settle. He attacked. That's the mindset that will be important moving forward, especially for a team that as we know can get into some pretty brutal shooting droughts.

- For really the first time this season I thought we got really great Josh Richardson minutes. I know there are some out there that were wondering why Aaron Nesmith once again got a DNP-CD, but for me I didn't see any reason why he should have gotten the minutes over JRich in this game. 

The confusing decision is when Nesmith didn't play in the game Richardson played 15 minutes and didn't do a damn thing. But last night he actually gave them legit production on both ends. Defensively he was solid on Dinwiddie in his 19 possessions only giving up 4 points on 1-3 shooting, and offensively he was really the only one that provided Jaylen with any help to start this game. He finished 7-15 which is fine by me and if he's going to play close to this level on a consistent basis, I have no problem giving him consistent rotation minutes. 

- While the overall result is not what any of us wanted, I do think there's something to be said about how this team continues to battle and claw their way back into games. They were down 6 points with about 4 minutes to go and had to be near perfect defensively to even force OT. They did it. While they still have their flaws, this does not look like a team that quits as soon as things start to go south. We know what that looks like because we all watched it last year. They still have some late game shit to figure out, but I think it will serve them well in the long run that they appear to be a resilient group. 

The Bad

- You just knew in your heart of hearts that we were in for some bullshit when this happened

Talk about prayer. This was the first 3PM Harrell has had in 3 goddamn seasons. I don't even mind that Jaylen let him take it because the chances of him making that are lower than maybe Jaylen fouling or something. Just an absolute prayer that ended up being pretty damn significant. I don't know what it is, but it always feels like the Celts get dominated with these type of prayers. Whether it was OG in the bubble with 0.3 or a goddamn center who hasn't made a three in 3 years banking it in from half court. So annoying.

- For a while now I've had to hear a lot about how Dennis Schroder needs to be the starting point guard over Marcus Smart. They see Smart go 1-7 and that's enough for them. Well, in 42 minutes last night Schroder finished 1-7 (0-3) for 6 points. Did the offense look like it went smoothly to you? Look, I think Dennis has had a very solid start to his season. He's been pretty much exactly what we all hoped when they signed him. But night's like this are also a reality for him. He's not all that different from Smart offensively, and he most certainly cannot guard 1-5 like Marcus can. 

I also cannot understand what he was thinking on this final possession

He had an opportunity to shoot it from three the second Tatum passed him the ball. Instead, he….dribbled out the clock? Say what you want about Smart, but he shoots that ball. Who knows if it goes in, but you can't make it unless you take it. Bad situational awareness in a pretty big spot.

- I think we saw why Ime doesn't play Kanter. He looks even slower than I remember and the second he got into the game the Wizards put him in P&R time and time again for easy buckets. Honestly it's annoying the Celts didn't do the same with Harrell who also can't guard P&R, but those 4 Kanter minutes were pretty brutal.

- OK, let's now move onto the bad stuff that cost this team a win. For me to starts with the first OT. The Celts jump out to a 6 point lead with over 3 minutes to go. They have all the momentum and should close it out right? Wrong. They didn't score again. The offense was…less than ideal. Jaylen Brown took 1 fucking FGA. They didn't have a single assist. It was the same old isolation bullshit that we KNOW hurts this team when it matters most. Where is Ime? I thought Jaylen had a good look on his game winning attempt so that was fine, but the last 3 minutes of that first OT were everything we do not want to see from this team as they try and close games out.

The Wizards went a horrific 1-10 (0-3) in that OT and the Celts couldn't pull away. That's on you. That's choking. 

Then we get to the 2OT and it's more of the same. Bad offense, the Jays went 1-5 and that was that. Controversial calls or not, they honestly shouldn't have ever been in that position in the first place. 

The Ugly

- Sometimes you don't have to overthink things. If you want to know why the Celts lost this game, just look at their three point shooting. They finished 2-26. No, that is not a typo. 2-26. That comes out to a stellar 7.7%. I didn't even know that was possible if we're being honest. The starters went a combined 0-16. It's very frustrating when like, 4-26 would have done the trick. Just be really bad instead of embarrassingly pathetic and you win this game. That's the bar. It was insane they were even in this game in the first place considering the Wizards were +24 points from behind the line, but man. Just make an open three for me one goddamn time. 

- Then there was Jayson Tatum's night. The box score reads 27/15/3, but watching this game I did not feel like Tatum was all that great. We can't keep having games where he's missing 20+ shots. This wasn't even a case of he was settling either! Of his 32 FGA, only 7 were 3PA. He was aggressive for the most part, but he was also extremely careless with the ball finishing with 4 TOs. It's no coincidence that both of these 2OT losses came in a game where Tatum shot 7-30 and 10-32. That's just nowhere near good enough. Again, it's a bit of a prayer that they were even in the game when their best player is shooting 32%, but this team is going to keep having games like this if they can't figure out Tatum's offense. 

We know what he's capable of because he's already shown us this year. The inconsistency has been what's plagued their start. It's becoming pretty clear that he's struggling a little bit with how he's now being officiated, similar to other stars around the league. He has to figure that shit out. Even if he's getting boned on calls that are actually fouls, he has to play around that. Maybe this is his normal slow start, but the issue is they are giving away winnable games because of it. That's a problem.

- Finally, we have to talk about it. There's no real denying that there were some pretty impactful calls made in crucial moments of this game that you could argue had an impact on the result. The two worst were pretty obvious

Do not let this confuse you in terms of me saying THIS is why the Celts lost. It's not. They lost because they choked down the stretch. But both of these calls were pretty massive given the moments. Who knows what happens if that Harrell foul isn't called. Who knows what happens if Tatum goes to the line to put them up 3 with a minute left in 2OT. There was also the foul call on JRich to end regulation which was a little suspect. I'll be very interested to see what the L2M report shows, but chances are it's just going to make me very upset online.

The whole situation is frustrating. It's frustrating that the Celts are even putting themselves in these positions where these calls even matter, and it's frustrating that calls like these even happen in the first place. Let the players decide the goddamn game, why is that so hard.

Things get no easier with the Bulls coming to town tomorrow, and I cannot stress how important it is for the Celtics to have a really good November. Just go look at what their schedule looks like for the month of December. You could make the case that these close games tell you they are close to figuring shit out, but at the end of the day 2-4 is 2-4. At some point they need to stop talking about making progress and actually ya know, make progress and win these games. Choking away winnable games because you poop your pants in the biggest moments doesn't exactly give off the vibe that you're on the right path. They need to clean that up and they need to do it quickly.