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The Celtics Getting Dick Stomped Like They Did In Game 2 Was A Brutal Reminder Of What Can Happen If You Give The Warriors Life

Ezra Shaw. Getty Images.

I'm of the line of thinking that when talking about these Finals so far, a couple of things can be true. On one hand, you did what you had to do, you went out to the Bay and took one of the first two games. For a team that was 31-10 at home during the year and was 9-0 to start this postseason, that's obviously a tough place to play. I'm not sure how else to describe a building where the home team had won 80% of their games heading into these Finals. So in that regard, it's fair to say the Celts put themselves in a good position moving forward, as long as they take care of their own business.

But on the other hand, there's still this sense of a missed opportunity. While it may have been unrealistic to think the Celts were going to take both of these two games on the road, they did have the opportunity to do just that. I wouldn't exactly call it a choke like we've seen this team have on the road previously this postseason, but it was definitely a missed opportunity. The reason you probably have that feeling in the pit of your stomach this morning is simply because this is the Finals and every loss feels magnified, The same way every win has you reaching the highest levels at the other end of the spectrum. These games are massive, especially between two teams that look to be pretty even.

You probably feel that way this morning because it was all of the Celts bad habits coming to life at the worst possible time. I feel comfortable in saying the Celts played like dogshit, partly through their own doing, but also partly due to the Warriors adjustments. That's what this stuff is. They adjusted after Game 1, the Celts will adjust after Game 2. How each side handles those adjustments is going to determine the series, which is pretty common this time of year. 

What we knew heading into this series is still true through 2 games. The Celts have to be pretty much perfect. They don't really have a margin for error which is not exactly the case with GS. Last night was a continued example of what happens when the Celts play pretty much the exact opposite way of what makes them successful. No real ball movement, mental mistakes on defense, careless with the basketball, you simply cannot win on this stage against this team playing that style of basketball. 

Game 3 now becomes the biggest and most important game of the season. No two ways about it. But we have a few days until we get there, so in the meantime let's go through the shitstorm we lived through last night. We don't just blog when things are great, we blog through the pain.

The Good

- Why does it feel weird to even put something in this section? The Celtics scored 88 points and got dick stomped, what could there be to celebrate?

I guess it was good to see they were ready to go at the start of this game. That was certainly a concern heading into given what we've seen this team do previously after big wins. They felt locked in. The energy was great. They were making shots. It was the ideal first 6-7 minutes. Unfortunately, the rest of the quarter didn't exactly go their way. After that 5-5 start, they had a brutal 0-7 stretch in there, they couldn't stop turning it over, and then the officials did their thing. So really, I'm just talking about that first 5-6 minutes. That was good and really the only portion of this game the Celts looked like a team that was imposing their will.

- Was it nice to see Tatum finally see the ball go in?

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For sure, but I wouldn't consider this one of his better performances. So why did I even put this video in this blog? Well, I think we can all agree that if the Celts are going to have a chance this series, Tatum is going to have to find ways to consistently knock down his threes. I can't imagine there's anyone who won't take 6-9 from deep for Jayson Tatum, so that was nice to see. 

- So other than the first 5-6 minutes and Tatum's 3pt shooting, what else was even all that good in this game? The fact that I even had to ask you that question pretty much sums it up perfectly. It was gross. 

We don't have to force things, we can keep it moving. When this team plays like garbage it's OK to focus on the garbage.

The Bad

- For as massive as the "others" were in Game 1, and make no mistake they most certainly do not win that game without what those guys did, that's how bad they were in Game 2. That's just the reality. I don't know what else you can say when 60% of the starting unit combined to score a total of 6 points while going 3-11 from the floor with 7 TOs. 

Al Horford: 2/8/1 on 1-4 shooting with 2 TOs

Robert Williams: 2/2/1 on 1-1 shooting

Marcus Smart: 2/2/5 with 5 TOs

I mean what the fuck even is that. Then you factor in Derrick White who was the only reserve to really give this team anything, and he shot just 4-13 while also having 3 TOs. So essentially, the top 4 options outside of Tatum/Brown scored a total of 18 points on 7-24 (29%). What makes this so brutal is after Jaylen's hot start, he finished the remainder of the game going just 2-14 (14%). That my friends, is how you get blown the fuck out. 

They clearly had issues adjusting to what the Warriors were doing defensively. I look at everyone from the players to Ime for that. For as well as they played in the first quarter, they still had 7 TOs which is beyond inexcusable considering so many of them were unforced errors made by their best players. Smart repeatedly throwing the ball into traffic or out of bounds, nobody running anything for Al or Rob to maybe get some easy looks, it looked like the November Celtics. I've seen that stagnant and gross offense before, and it came during the November/December part of the year when this team made you want to gouge your eyes out. It should then not surprise you that the 88 points the Celts scored in this game were their LOWEST OF THE SEASON since mid December when they were 16-19. If you play like assholes, this is what happens.

I think the balance between Game 1 and last night for this group is somewhere in the middle. They probably won't shoot 95% from three which is fine, but they also probably won't all score just 2 points. For guys like Al, once he did get some shots in the second half, things felt rushed. He always leaves little shot jump hooks short when he's rushed. You can tell before he even lets it go. Rob sort of gets a pass for me because he's clearly not 100%, but he needs to be better in his minutes.

With Smart, his performance was the real killer. He can't be a no impact player. Well no, let me rephrase that. Smart made an impact, just none of it was good. He's too important of a player to be that ineffective on either end. His shot volume was in control sure (1-6), but everything else was bad. In no world is having 5x the TO than FGM acceptable. It's just going to be really hard for this team to win this series if after the game you sit there wondering if Al and Smart even played. That's….not what you're looking for. There's no excuse for Horford to take a total of 0 FGA in an entire first half of basketball. Especially when you're shooting like shit as a team. That needs to be figured out immediately, and for me it starts with Ime and Marcus. Find ways to get that guy some easy/open looks. In a series where shot quality is so important, it really confuses me that they went away from an offense and from a player that can help generate high percentage looks.

- As brutal as that all was to watch, it's hard to win when you can't make your bunnies. Against a team like GS, that shit is magnified. You have to convert around the rim. Usually, in these types of losses, we see shit like this

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That is so bad. On 2pt FGA, the Celts finished this game just 14-43. If you were curious what that comes out to, it's a stellar 34%. If you dig deeper into the specific zones, shit is not pretty

Restricted area: 4-6 (66.6%)

In the paint (non RA): 8-24 (33.3%)

Midrange: 3-13 (23.1%)

So while they shot 66% in the restricted area, they took only 6 FGA all game from that zone. How does this compare to Game 1? 

Restricted area: 7-8 (87.5%)

In the paint (non RA): 10-26 (38.5%)

Midrange: 5-10 (50%)

Pretty substantial difference. There's also this little nugget to consider

That's a cool 19% on self created 2s. So many times did we see this team miss layups or bunnies and that shit is so deflating. Especially when on the other end you're dealing with shit like this

Sometimes it's just not your night. I feel confident in this team's ability to hit layups and convert in the paint, they just didn't do it anywhere close to an acceptable level in this game and it cost them. You could see it was clearly mental, especially for guys like Al and White. When you play against GS and you have those type of opportunities, you can't go 15-43. You just can't. It's not like the looks weren't there, that's the frustrating part.

- I'm still not really understanding the whole "stop a fastbreak to call a tech, only to immediately rescind the tech" move. That was…odd.  

- I would not say the Celts did a good job at keeping their mental composure. The calls were the calls. It wasn't exactly a shock, and that's what annoys me most. You knew going into this game what the deal would be, and I didn't get the sense that the Celts stayed focused and played through it. Did Draymond pull some shit? Of course! That's what he's going to do! He wants you to focus on him and not the gameplan. That's how he wins. I was really disappointed the Celts let that shit get to them, at this stage of the postseason. 

I mean, Draymond basically admitted what was going on

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but it's on the Celtics to not even get involved with the bullshit. The phantom calls are tough, but that is not what lost them this game. The Celts THINKING about the officiating and then making mental mistakes is what lost them this game. That's the shit that cannot happen. Despite everything that happened early, they still had every chance to win this game. Even in the 3rd quarter it was a 6 point game with 4 minutes left. But through self inflicted wounds, not the officials, the Celts let this game slip away. It'd be one thing if they played perfect and were getting boned, but that's not what happened.

They got boned early, it allowed the Warriors to stay close, and then just like we saw in Game 1 this team puked on themselves in the 3rd quarter. They have no one to blame but themselves for that.

- Someone is going to have to explain to me why this team is being instructed to play drop against Steph Curry coming off screens. Game 1 it was Rob, Game 2 it was Theis. How is that the gameplan? If it's not, why the fuck do they keep doing it. When the Warriors were starting to make their run, you saw Curry go nuts because he could walk into whatever shot he wanted. Really rough Theis minutes in this game and that's a bit of a problem if the Horford/Rob pairing is also going to not be effective. They only have so many bodies, but between the drop we saw Theis in and his inability to rebound at times, that wasn't great.

The Ugly

- I really do not understand this 3rd quarter issue. It hasn't been an issue all regular season, and even so far in these playoffs. Yet for the second game in a row, I see a team come out of the break and look like a group that has never played the sport of basketball before. I dunno, can Ime switch up the halftime speech or something? It's not like they've had huge leads heading into the break in either game so they sort of relax or something. They just, can't stop being horrific. The bar is literally do not be horrific and you'll be fine, and yet

What am I even looking at? How is that even possible….again. Much of this game was pretty similar to Game 1, only there was no massive 4th quarter comeback. This time, they allowed the Warriors to blow the game wide open and that's the last thing you want to do. This team with a lead of 17+ is really tough to beat, especially at home. I'm not saying the Celts can never lose a quarter, but can we stop losing the 3rd quarter by a billion points? Just keep it respectable and you give yourself a chance. But when you have the same amount of TOs as FGM and you're playing zero defense on the other end, I'm not sure what you think is going to happen. 

- What do we say for every Celts game. If they take care of the ball, they win. If they don't, we will always have results like this. The proof is legitimately in the pudding.

When the Celts allow fewer than 18 points off turnovers, they are 12-2. When they allow 19 or more, they are 1-5.

In this game, 18 TOs led to 33 Warriors points. 33 POINTS. 

That's where my frustration is with this team. Stop doing this to yourself. Giving the Warriors extra possessions is probably the worst fucking thing you can do. There was that stretch in the 3rd quarter where the Warriors made their initial push to 7 where the Celts needed to make 4 defensive stops on the same possession, and then on the other end immediately turned it over which led to a Klay three. 

If this team takes care of the ball and protects the glass, they win. It's as simple as that. When they do the shit we saw in Game 2, they give themselves no shot. It was the same shit in the MIL series and it was definitely the same shit in the MIA series. In Game 1, they only allowed 10 points off TOs. Wild what a difference that makes huh. In Game 2, there was a 33-15 points off TOs difference. In a game the Celts lost by 19. That feels….connected.

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So now all the pressure of the series swings back to Boston. That feels weird for a team with homecourt, but now the Warriors have life and they enter a building where the Celts have been known to get a little tight in these huge games at home. We all know this team hasn't lost back to back games in 5+ months and they've responded after each postseason loss so far, but each game is different. I know if the Celts have 18 TOs on Wednesday, it won't matter that they are at home. They for the moment still control the series, but we haven't gotten a good Klay game yet, that's probably coming. The goal of this trip was to split and they did, but you do not win the NBA title because you split the first two games. You have to build on it.

This is now a best of 5 series with 3 of the next 4 in Boston. Everything is still right there for the taking, let's just hope the Celts understand that and don't keep throwing these games away. If they do, they're going to be in a bit of a pickle.