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The Celtics Responded From Their Worst Loss Of The Year With One Of The Worst Shooting Performances In NBA History

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We're quickly reaching the point where all you can do is sit and laugh. Not because anything is funny, but because every single night there seems to be a new way for this Celtics team to lose in embarrassing fashion. They do things that break all sense of logic. One night it's a blown fourth quarter lead with half a quarter left. Other nights it's losing to a team of legit G League and 10 Day players. Then there's nights like last night. Why not throw in one of the most futile shooting performances in the HISTORY OF THE NBA just for good measure? You know, I have to admit that when I would tweet "all the Celts have to do to win is not be the worst of all time" at something, it was mostly a joke. I mean it, but it's not always that simple in reality. Now? It actually might be. I talked the other day about how I have a baseline expectation that when this team plays 3 of their 5 starters, they should be able to beat a G League team. Well, I also have a baseline expectation that when they start 3 of their 5 guys and get some additional reserves back, that they somehow do not have one of the worst shooting performances in NBA history. At home. 

To put it another way, if the Celts are going to continue to put up performances that the league has literally never seen before and not in a good way, nothing really matters. This is the bar. It cannot be this hard to avoid being the worst in NBA history at something. Even if you don't love this roster, it still has enough to not be putting up performances that are the worst the NBA has ever seen. I'm going to keep saying that phrase because it is so goddamn pathetic. There are tanking teams that won't win 16 games all year that don't put up performances that are among the worst in NBA history. So why the fuck can't this team do that? Be bad! Be below average! If the Celts are even close to below average from three last night, they win this game. That is a fact. We as fans are begging this team to do anything other than be devastatingly pathetic. I refuse to believe that is a difficult task. 

The sickness in me is now wondering just how far can they go. They have the Suns tomorrow, so what will it be? I don't think anyone saw shooting 9.5% as a team from three coming, so literally anything is on the table. 30 TOs? 25% shooting for a whole game from the floor? I'm at the point where I don't even know where the bottom is anymore. Times are fun! 

We may as well dive in and rip the bandaid off. What other choice do we have really.

The Good

- The Celtics have lost 3 in a row, 4 of their last 5 and 9 of their last 13. When they finally get their shit together and stop doing that, they can have this section back. We can talk about fun things again. But until then? You can keep scrolling.

The Bad

- With so many guys out, it's given other players an opportunity to showcase their talents with extended run, especially the reserves. This month of December was always going to be a learning month to see how their talent stacks up against good teams, and the results have not been what I would call positive. Especially when it comes to those reserve players. Here's what I feel confident in saying after watching the latest underwhelming and embarrassing performance.

Romeo has not taken advantage of his opportunity. Nowhere close. While there are flashes defensively and he seems to be the only player on the roster who knows how to cut without the ball, it's not enough. He's young, there is still potential, but we're talking about the now. Right now, he's hurting more than he's helping. In his most recent stretch of games (4 starts) Romeo is putting up 6.5/4.5/0.8 on 40/16% splits with defense that I would say has been average at best but has more bad moments than good. Seeing as how Tatum/Richardson/Nesmith were out for some of those starts, getting actual wing production and solid play was pretty important. That has not happened. 

Payton Pritchard cannot be a starting point guard. This does not mean Pritchard sucks, far from it. He was a brutal 2-10 (0-5) last night, but we know he can shoot, so that's not what this is about. The issue that we saw last night is that Pritchard isn't really a north/south player. He doesn't really beat anyone off the dribble, and he's not an impact finisher at the rim. Just look at last night's game as an example. How many times did we see Pritchard go north/south into the paint? Especially in the fourth quarter? Everything was side to side. He's best suited as an off ball player, I think we can agree there. To me, that makes him a reserve guard. There's nothing wrong with that, I just don't think we should hear "Pritchard should start at PG" anytime soon if guys are active. That's not his role.

- Let's look at just how odd this game really was.

The Celtics won the point in the paint 54-26

The Celtics won the 2nd chance points 28-8

The Celtics won the fastbreak points 13-10

The Celtics won the rebounding battle 50-49

The Celtics made more FGM 35-33

The Celtics had more assists at 19-17

The Celtics had fewer TOs at 8-14

The Celtics kept a team to under 95 points

Stop right there for a second. If you told someone that a team would do all that in a game, normal logic would suggest that team won right? Those are all the boxes most teams check when you look back and see they won a basketball game. But then you have to remember this is the Celts we're talking about here. Of course normal logic doesn't apply. All of those areas didn't mean shit because they lost the 3PM battle 11-4. There's your game.

I'll also say, the points in the paint are a little misleading. Half of those were just offensive rebound putbacks. It wasn't as if the Celts were aggressive and attacked the rim and found success and then went away from it late. Rob just got a billion putbacks. So while 54 points in the paint is very good, it's not ideally how you would want them to come.

- Rough night for JRich in his return from protocols. A shame too because he had been playing some of his best basketball of the season before having to sit out. He gave more of the same compared to what the starters did with a 3-11 (0-5) performance in his 32 minutes. Again, wing production was nowhere close to where it needed to be from any wing involved. That's tough.

- Even more tough was watching Mook cook. Here's the thing we all know about Mook. When he makes his first shot, look out. When that first shot is a midrange pullup that doesn't even touch the rim, that's all he needs to see. What comes next is the Mook avalanche of made jumpers that don't even grace the rim. It's something we once enjoyed at a time in our lives. You know Mook is locked in when he's nailing his jab step pullup, and that's exactly what he did time and time again.

In the fourth quarter when they needed buckets, Mook was aggressive. He attacked and got to his spot. He basically did everything we wish any Celtic would do. 

- Did the scouting report call for players to go over screens against Eric Bledsoe? If so, may I ask why? If not, then why did we see Celtics players do it time and time again in huge moments? If Bledsoe, a 32% three point shooter, is going to beat you going under screens, you live with it. What you don't do is try and fight over a screen, fail, and then give him 50 ft of space on a little midrange pull up. Guess what the Celts did in the fourth quarter? Guess what happened? Oh right, 10 points from Bledsoe in 10 minutes.

- On that same note, did the scouting report say to not stick with Luke Kennard defensively? Did nobody on this team watch what happened the first time these two teams met in LA? They didn't, and he once again buried them. Romeo got pulled immediately in the third quarter for doing that shit, and that's the type of defensive execution that you should be able to handle as a team. Especially when you already saw what that player does against you like two weeks ago.

Kennard made more 3s in this game than the entire Celtics roster. Chew on that for a moment.

- Another game impacted by an inability to rebound late. Somehow, the Celts were actually in this game in the fourth quarter despite all their shooting woes. They actually were leading! But just like it so often does, when things get tight and this team needs to grab a rebound, they can't. Instead they give up an OREB that always leads to points. There were two critical instances of this in the game.

The first game at around the 9 minute mark with the Celts up 72-71. Coffey missed a 30 ft, it gave the Clips an extra possession that ended in a Bledsoe pullup (which we just talked about). Then, in an even bigger critical moment with 2:24 left and the Celts down 5, they first allow an OREB on a missed FT, then allow another OREB off a missed Mook 3PA which resulted in a Bledsoe 3. That was it. Game over. The embarrassing part about that second one was the fact that both bigs were on the floor. I'm sorry, but I expect Rob and Al to grab a fucking rebound in that instance. 

- Explain this sequence in any other way than embarrassingly bad. I mean holy hell.

The best part of this is the very next possession Jaylen missed a finger roll. Again, this cannot be happening to any other team in the NBA. It's too ridiculous to be normal. JUST DUNK IT.

- For those keeping score at home, here is how the last 4 Celtics losses have gone since that battle against GS where maybe you were feeling OK with how they competed.

1. Choke up 7 w/ 3 min left vs PHI

2. Choke up 13 w/ 5 min with vs MIL

3. Lose vs MIN G-Leaguers

4. Lose vs undermanned LAC shooting 4-42 from three

Those are the actions of a bad basketball team. That's exactly what the Celtics are right now. There's really no other way to say it. They are playing horrific basketball and as a result, their record has tanked. I don't care who was in or out of the lineup, every single one of those games was winnable. Instead, the Celts blew all four.

The Ugly

- We can begin here with Jaylen. Much like when Tatum would have low AST numbers, a lot will be made about Brown's 36 FGA and 0 AST finishes. People who probably didn't watch will not realize that Jaylen did pass the ball, but nobody made shots. Even if that's the case, his overall performance was nowhere near good enough for now the second straight game as him being the solo #1 option. I think that's fair to say. I don't really care about the AST total because I saw him pass to wide open guys. That's whatever.

What is more concerning is the overall performance. On nights where they not only need Jaylen to produce, but to be his normal efficient self while doing it, he's gone 21-60 (3-21). That's good for 35/14% splits. To make matters even worse, he has averaged 4.5 TOs a game over these last two. So, their high usage player was not only missing everything he threw up, he was also turning the ball over at an alarming rate. I think we have to be consistent here. Tatum would be KILLED for back to back performances like that, and I think Jaylen should be held to the same standard. He's better than this, we've seen it! But in a time where they needed him to step up and stop the bleeding, he only made the wound worse. 

What I don't think makes sense is to be over reactionary and declare that Jaylen now needs to be traded. It's OK to criticize without blowing your team up. You don't have to lose sight of who he is as a player because of a bad stretch. All you have to do is look at his previous 5 games coming back from injury. But at the end of the day, the team needed one of their franchise guys to come through and he did everything but.

- This feels like a good spot to throw in the fourth quarter. Why? Well because it was basically like every other fourth quarter we've seen

Where are the adjustments from Ime? Where are the adjustments from the players? How many more of these quarters do we need to see before someone realizes maybe having no sort of offensive approach and only shooting threes when you are a bad three point shooting team isn't the way? Especially when a game is close in the fourth quarter? All this team does in the fourth is pass the ball along the perimeter until the shot clock gets down to the point where they have to jack threes. It's maddening.

I'm not saying never take threes in the fourth. I get they are fine in the flow of an offense. But maybe try to actually run plays? Are we really back to not knowing how to beat a zone? The Celts are the worst fourth quarter team in the league by a wide margin and that's because they don't ever change their approach late in games. It's why they not have a 6-14 clutch record or some shit. It was the same shit against the Wolves. 14 of their 22 FGA were threes and they finished 2-14. Last night 18 of their 30 FGA were threes and they went 1-18. Maybe try something else! 

- Finally, we can talk about the three point shooting. 4-42. I didn't even know it was possible. After the game I couldn't get enough of the stat tweets about this. It was like watching a car wreck

I mean, that is truly impressive. Not in any sort of good way, but an impressive display of futility. If you take the attempts to over 25, we've seen the two worst shooting performances in CELTICS FRANCHISE HISTORY this season. Again, the bar is to literally not be the worst of all time at something. How can it be this hard?

Looking closer, the shooting numbers are as gross as you think

4-36 on open or wide open shots doesn't even make sense. Someone like Horford was a big time issue there. He went 0-7 from three and I'm pretty sure every single one of this threes were wide open. Al is now shooting 31% on the season from three, which is by far the lowest percentage he's ever shot from three since he regularly started taking them in 2015-16. In fact, he's never shot under 34%. As a Celtic, he shot 37% the first time around. He shot 36.8% last year. That drop off has been absolutely brutal. 

Things obviously get no easier with the best team in basketball coming to town tomorrow, and what looked like something that could have been a strong close to this brutal month is quickly turning into a disaster. Their schedule lightens up big time in January, but what good is it if this team is going to shoot 9.5% from three? We can't even say a performance like this is a fluke because we've had multiple games like this all year. Of their 35 games, they've been under 33% from three in close to half. Under 30% in like 12. Under 10% multiple times. I mean what the hell already. Who even does that.