First and foremost, happy Thanksgiving everybody. I hope your day is filled with great food, spent around the ones you love and that most importantly you win all your bets that you placed responsibly with the Barstool Sportsbook App. Personally, I'm thankful for all of you, the fine readers of this tremendous website. Even the ones that say mean things to me. I appreciate you all and am thankful for the clicks, interactions, trolls, shit talking, all of it. In the event you need something to read/do in order to hide from your family, maybe stay on the toilet for an extra 20 minutes, I got you. I'd be more than happy to help.
I'm also thankful that game against the Nets is over because holy shit was that gross. Just a complete ass kicking and not the variety that we were all hoping for. A nice little reminder that while things have started to turn around and the team has played better over the course of this month, there is still a LONNNNNNNGGGG way to go until we see this Celts team be in the same tier as BKN. Doesn't mean they can't one day get there, but they most certainly are not there on November 25th. Even the shorthanded Nets version. As brutal as last night was, it's also important to remember that one loss doesn't suddenly undo everything they've done to improve this month. They still have a great opportunity to finish with a 10-5 record for the month of November, and as of this morning are just 2 games back of the 2 seed with 63 games to play. Everyone take a deep breath.
At the same time, a performance like we saw last night is in no way good enough if the idea is to establish yourself as a contending team in the East. I think we can all agree there. I mean outside of one or two players, the entire roster laid an egg. The coaching staff laid an egg. It was an all around pathetic showing from everyone involved. And as we know, when the Celts play to their floor rather than their ceiling, they might actually be the worst team in the history of basketball. Simple things like dribbling and passing to one another are seemingly too difficult. It's amazing really.
So just like we always do, let's talk about it.
- Does anything even deserve to be in this section in a game in which the Celts once trailed by 29? It's a fair question, but on a night where nobody seemed to show up that is not the case when it comes to Marcus Smart
I'd say big picture it's never a great situation when Smart ends up being your best offensive player, but he continues to play really solid basketball this month. The scoring was nice, he finished 6-14 which isn't terrible, and he had 8 assists to just 1 TO. Those are all things we want Smart to do right? The annoying part was his shot balance was still all fucked up with 8 of those 14 FGA coming from behind the arc, but he was really the only one I would say played hard on a consistent basis.
Defensively, Smart continues to put up an All NBA caliber season. In this game, he guarded James Harden on 24 possessions and gave up just 3 points on 1-5 shooting. He was matched up with KD on 10 possessions and gave up just 2 points. He finished with 2 steals and a block. Call me crazy but guarding those two elite scorers for 34 possessions and giving up a total of 5 points is pretty fucking impressive. For the most part I would say Smart filled his role exactly how he needs to, it just sucks that nobody else wanted to join him.
If this is the version of Smart we're going to get over the course of the year, I think everyone would take that. The one adjustment he still needs to make is being more balanced in terms fo FGA and 3PA, but it's understandable that things were a little skewed last night because of their early deficit.
- I also liked what I saw from Romeo in his 22 minutes. More solid plays defensively, he's still knocking down threes at a great clip (2-4 last night), and it was during his shift that the Celts started to actually make a run. I'd say Romeo is someone that has taken advantage of his opportunities and found a way to produce on a consistent basis even in his limited minutes, so it makes sense that Ime trusts him to play when shit actually matters. We can't say the same about all the young guys on this roster right now.
Now, whether this means he can find a way to be a rotation fixture, or this is all going to end up as something that helps boost his trade value for Brad to bring in a needed piece, only time will tell. But the one thing I'll say about Romeo this year is he looks more comfortable on the floor. Not just with the ball in his hands, but he seems to know where to go and what to do. Earlier in his career, it looked like he just sort of ran around with no plan or just stayed in the corner and hoped someone passed it to him. Now we're seeing him make plays off the dribble, make great rotations and play solid transition defense. That's progress I can certainly get behind.
- OK, that's it. I don't mean to be a downer on this glorious day, but it's time to move to the meat of this blog.
- Of all the struggles we saw last night, the only one that really gets a pass for me is Jaylen. Coming back from hamstring injuries is tricky, it was his second game back and he was a game time decision to even play in the first place. I think he's earned the right to work his way back into game shape, and with that are going to be nights like we saw against the Nets. The 5-15 (0-8) was pretty costly, but I'm willing to look past that at the moment given his situation.
Everyone else? Where do we begin. You'll notice I'm going to break some of these guys into each category. For example, someone like Horford last night was just flat out bad. It hasn't happened often this season, but it did last night. A -20 in his 24 minutes, Al went just 3-8, grabbed just 4 rebounds, and finished with more fouls than FGM. That's not great. Defensively, he had issues containing LaMarcus Aldridge which wasn't exactly ideal, and even though he only played 24 minutes, his overall impact was more negative than positive.
Then there was Dennis Schroder. Another player who has been so awesome this month that you don't overreact to one performance, but he too wasn't all that good. Just 3-10 (1-5) for him in his 35 minutes off the bench, you're going to start to notice a theme here. Pretty much every single major offensive player on this roster had a horrific shooting night. You're not going to beat the Nets when that happens, and for a team that already has scoring issues, what are they supposed to do when all their scorers refuse to score? It's quite the dilemma.
- We can keep going down the list if you'd like. Grant Williams, step on down! He finished -16 in his 21 minutes, and 7 of his 8 FGA were threes. He made 2. Worst part was a majority of them were wide open from the corner where Grant was shooting over 50% on the season. Naturally he would then miss all those looks in a game like this.
- Remember during the Olympics when we got this quote from Ime?
It brings me much sadness to report that the Celtics do not in fact know how to lock Patty Mills' ass up. He torched them right from the opening tip. Then when the Celts started to make their run late, it was Patty Mills once again with dagger threes to kill that run. He finished with 23 points on 8-12 (7-10) shooting, making him the Nets leading scorer! I don't know much, but I know that is the exact opposite locking someone's ass up. Tough look.
- How did you spend your Wednesday night? Probably at the bar having fun trying to hook up with the one that got away. I remember those days fondly. But now as a 34 year old washed up blogger, I chose to spend my Wednesday night looking into just how fucking bad the Celts defense has been against the Nets since KD first came over. We are not the same.
What I found was just as bad as I thought
There's context around some of those scores, but you get the general idea. At no point have the Celts come close to showing the ability to stop this team offensively. Every time they play it seems like we watch the Nets drop 120+ points on like 53/48% splits with 17 3PM. Healthy, injured, with Kyrie or without Kyrie it's the same old story. I'd say this is a pretty significant issue if the idea is that in order to get where we all want the Celts to get to they'll probably have to go through BKN at some point. I just don't have the confidence that they can even keep this team consistently under 120, and given how hot and cold their offense is, that's a problem.
- I thought this quote from Ime was pretty interesting
because it highlights one of the more glaring issues I see when I watch these two teams play. Too often do we see the Celts let bad calls/non calls get in their head. It should be a surprise to no one that KD/Harden/etc are going to get different treatment. That's especially true in a game Tony Brothers is working. But we see time and time again that when things don't go their way against BKN, they mentally crumble. That's called not having mental toughness to me. When that happens they tend to immediately force things offensively which only compounds the issue, the Nets come down and score because they take more efficient shots, and the lead balloons to a 29 point deficit. This is the same shit we saw last year against the Nets during the regular season.
Even if their gripes are legitimate, for some reason the one team we see the Celts act this way on a consistent basis is BKN. You already have to play near perfect basketball to beat them, and the second you lose your mental composure you have no shot. They're too talented. There was that stretch to end the second quarter where some brutal fouls and then a missed goaltend took what could have been a 7 point game and made it a 13 point game. The Celts lost their composure and never really recovered.
- This team did not get their ass kicked because of the officiating. They got their ass kicked because they couldn't defend for shit and they shot the ball even worse. Those are the reasons they lost. But I also think it's fair to say they got a pretty tough whistle in their own building when the game was still in balance. Ideally we see this team play through that, and unfortunately they didn't.
- It might seem too obvious, but in games like this the Celts need Jayson Tatum to step up and play like a top 5 player. That's the burden of being the franchise guy. When he struggles, chances are this team is going to lose. Just look at their 5 losses so far this month
Finishing 4-16 (1-9) and a - 33 in his 30 minutes, I mean you have no shot. Like pretty much everyone else, 9 of his 16 FGA were threes. The balance was all off despite the Nets not really having a shot blocker on the floor. Add in his 5 TOs, and what do you think is going to happen if their best player has more TOs than FGM? You're going to get your ass kicked. His recent turnaround is great and it's important that he shows signs of life, but last night was back to October Tatum and that version is no where near good enough.
- Then there's the three point shooting. A total of 48 of their 91 FGA were threes, and they went 11-48. That's a cool 22.9%. When you break it down it's even worse.
Of those 48, the Celts went
1-16 on "open" threes
10-24 on "wide open" threes
I mean, that's so bad. The thing is, it was their good three point shooters too! Tatum 1-9, Jaylen 0-8, Grant 2-7 the list goes on and on. I could understand fans screaming about adding a shooter because obviously this team has a shooting problem, but at the same time that addition isn't going to mean shit if their best players are missing every three they take and a majority of them are either open or wide open. I can't even begin to think how different their record looks if they could have just found a way to be bad at shooting threes instead of absolutely horrific. That's honestly the bar. Just don't shoot 22% and see what happens, I bet things work out!
The real kicker is that even with all these threes, the Celts still finished with more points in the paint than the Nets! Imagine if they just kept attacking instead of settling early. Instead they didn't, they started the game shooting nothing but threes and were down early and never recovered.
- On that note, here's how much of an ass kicking this truly was. The Celts tied the game at 3-3 with 10:26 left in the first quarter. That was their only tie of the night. KD came down and hit a jumper to go up 5-3 with 10 minutes left and the Celts never even managed to tie it again the rest of the way. A wire to wire ass whooping like you read about.
So while the team may have ruined my Thanksgiving with that embarrassing performance, all is not lost. If they take care of things to end the month with games against SA/TOR things are still OK. A 10-5 month is about what I hoped they'd finish ahead of their brutal December schedule. As long as they don't repeat the performance we all witnessed last night, things should be OK. Whether they do that or not is anyone's guess.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone, have yourself a great day.