Disgusting. Pathetic. Embarrassing. Pick any term you want, I think we're all on the same page right now. The Celtics haven't just been bad over their last 6 games, they've been horrific. Actually, I'm not even sure horrific does it justice. As good as they were for the first 25 games, they've been even worse over the last few weeks. I think most expected some sort of coming back down to earth considering the entire roster was shooting 95% from the floor, but what we're watching from them offensively in terms of their shooting is essentially the same extreme only in the opposite direction.
The thing is, the Celts don't just have a shooting problem over their 1-5 skid. They have an everything problem. Their effort is dogshit, their defense is providing no resistance, they are careless with the ball, and essentially their entire roster outside of Tatum has disappeared offensively. Game after game we're seeing multiple starters basically get 48 minutes of cardio and do nothing else. That's obviously an issue.
Stretches like this are nothing new, we've lived through this shit before. Usually, when things are in a downswing like this all the mistakes you make are magnified. When you're playing well you can get past some bad mental mistakes or some defensive issues. But when you're struggling? That shit snowballs. Then you start to press, you start to think rather than play and things only get worse. Think about how the Celts looked/played to start their season last year. Think of how crazy it seemed that guys were hitting these half court prayers and end of shot clock heaves that always seemed to go in while the Celts did nothing but turn the ball over, miss every shot they took, and somehow couldn't hit a layup.
Does that feel familiar? Oh I dunno….
Coming off back to back loses at home to the Magic, there's no excuse for what we saw last night just like there was no excuse for the second Magic loss. There has been no stopping of the bleeding during this skid, instead, we've watched this team only compound their issues. Yeah Marcus Smart didn't play and that mattered to some degree, but I'm sorry there was enough talent on the floor to beat the Indiana Pacers. Just like there was enough talent on the floor to beat the Orlando Magic even in games without Al or Tatum. It's time for the talent on this roster to wake the fuck up and decide to actually play.
Tatum said it after the game and I couldn't agree more. This team needs to re-learn how to win. The reason things feel so similar to the 2021 start is because that's exactly how the Celts are playing. They are timid, they are missing bunnies and they're pressing. They have this "oh fuck here we go again" mentality that took 4 months last year for them to get over whenever they started to struggle.
Yes, perspective is always important with this stuff just like it was when they were 21-5. Teams go through skids. But at some point, you need to step up and stop sliding, and so far the Celts have shown no desire to do something like that, and results like this are what you get.
It was ugly, it was frustrating, it was annoying, so let's talk about it.
- Few things in life bother me than wasting really good Jayson Tatum performances. You want to talk about a guy who actually played with a pulse last night, you can start the discussion with Tatum. After a brutal first half for everyone involved, Tatum did what you expect from your best player in that situation. He did everything he possibly could to will the team back
it sort of felt like the SA game where the Celts were down by 30 and then Tatum erupted and finished with 60. While he didn't get that high in this game, there's no denying Tatum was one of the few on this roster that showed up. He had 28 of his 41 in the second half on 10-15 shooting playing the exact type of aggressive style that we all want to see from him. I would argue the Celts didn't find enough ways to get Tatum even more FGA if we're being honest. He may have led the team with 25 FGA, but that probably should have been 30+ given the way he was playing compared to everyone else.
There are a lot of players to have issues with after last night, but for me Tatum is not one of them.
- Neither is Rob. In fact, Rob has look nothing but incredible since his return. That's part of what makes this all so insane. I could understand if Rob was going out there and looked like a shell of himself and that was having a ripple effect. Nope. Rob looks fucking awesome
His 5 OREB late in this game is what kept the Celts alive. Rob is giving the Celts exactly what they need from him all while only playing 22 minutes, and it's maybe not the best look for everyone else when a guy who has only played 3 games this year is more productive and is playing with more passion and energy then guys who have been around all year. He's not even in that good of basketball shape yet and he's still making an impact.
The most annoying part of this is I can't even enjoy Rob being back because this team will not stop playing like complete assholes. if you were to tell me that Rob would come back for a homestand against ORL/ORL/IND and look like his old self and that the Celts would still be 0-3, there's no way I believe you.
I've also seen enough from Rob to declare it's time to get him back into the starting lineup. Go back with the best lineup in all of basketball last season with Smart/Jaylen/Tatum/Al/Rob or if you want swap out Al for Grant. Play him the same 22 minutes if you want, but it's time to get the original band back together. Rob's ready.
- Finally, shoutout Sam Hauser for not only being one of the few that played hard, but it was nice to see him get back to making his 3s. Lord knows his December has been BRUTAL when it comes to shooting the ball, so a nice little 4-8 (2-4) hopefully gets some of his confidence back. His gravity as a shooter is very important to how this offense runs, and if you remember they were at their best when they could rely on him to not shoot 28%.
- That's it. Those three guys were the only positives from last night. No spinzone, no nothing. Let's move on.
- When you're struggling as a team, there are certain things that you can control in an effort to turn things around. You won't be able to control whether or not all your shots go in. You won't be able to control how the other team shoots. You know what you can control? Your effort. Your energy. Those are things that have absolutely nothing to do with how you're shooting the ball.
Let me ask you something. Do you think the Celts played with the right effort last night? I'm not talking about the second half when the Pacers were already up a billion and probably took their foot off the glass. When this game was in the balance, did you get the impression that the Celts were pissed off about their Magic losses and were determined to not let that happen again?
The answer to that question is no.
That's my first issue. That's on the players, full stop. Have some fucking pride. You're dropping games in your own building to under .500 teams, are you going to get pissed about it? Maybe stop feeling sorry for yourselves and actually do something about it. How many times did we see everyone stand and watch a ball come off the rim and touch the floor, only for the Pacers to get the OREB and then score? About a thousand if I remember correctly.
When you can't score the ball, that's when you need to lock in even more defensively and in terms of your energy. That helps create easy looks that in theory help your confidence which then in turn leads to you making jumpers. But when you can't score AND you're playing lifeless basketball, there's not going to be a turnaround.
- During this skid, everyone is trying to figure out what the issue is. People have blamed it on their offensive approach, people have blamed it in Joe, but honestly it's neither of those things in my opinion. If you want to look at what's going on with this team over thier last 6 games, it's pretty much as simple as their entire roster outside of Tatum is disappearing.
Take this game for example. The Celts didn't have an overreliance on 3PA. They took just 41 3PA in their 101 total FGA. The issue is that game after game after game we're seeing at a minimum 2 starters give this team absolutely nothing. Last night, it was everyone not named Tatum. When it came time for the second unit, it was the same story
We've talked a lot about how much depth the Celts have, and that's true. But it's also true that their depth has been nonexistent during this skid. What good is having depth if that depth is giving you nothing? For it to be happening at home is even more maddening.
You can just go down each of their losses since the Warriors game and you'll see what I'm talking about. That one was more about Tatum, but since then?
vs LAC: Smart/White combined for 6 points
vs ORL: White/Horford/Smart combined for 19 points
vs ORL: White/Horford combined for 16 points
vs IND: just look at the tweet above
When 40-60% of your starting lineup is giving you essentially nothing, it's very hard to win regardless of who you play. You look at the run of someone like Derrick White right now and you can get a sense of how brutal things have been
You just can't have that type of production when you're playing that many minutes. This isn't to say all the issues with this team are on Derrick, but it does help illustrate what their issues are. It's not the Celts approach that's the issue. It's simply that they are getting performances from 2-3 starters a night that looks a lot like Derrick's current run.
On a night when Smart was out, it was imperative that the Celts get good guard play. Especially going up against Tyrese Haliburton. I feel confident in saying that did not happen.
- It's the same shit with Malcolm Brogdon too. The whole idea was that his role was to come in, calm everyone down offensively, get this team right during skids and be that calming presence. Well here's my question.
Where was it?
At no point did I feel like Brogdon did any of those things last night. In fact, he's had this weird issue where he immediately checks into a game and then turns it over. I don't get it. His decision making has been pretty poor over this skid, so when you're starters are no-showing and then Brogdon is coming in and ALSO giving you nothing, you're pretty much cooked.
Last night Brogdon checked in at 5:08 in the first quarter with the Celts down 20-11. This was literally his first possession
This is what I mean by things with Brogdon being weird. Now he can't dribble? At a time the Celts couldn't score, where was the ball movement and playmaking? We've all seen him bring those things before, so what's the deal?
Then when it comes to his late game decision making, there were just a ton of questionable plays. The transition three in the 4th when the Celts had cut it to 7 with about a minute left and Tatum had been on a tear. Then a few plays later his decision to not take a wide open layup, only to then airball a corner three. Again, with Smart out the guards needed to step up and actually play with a pulse, and both Derrick and Malcolm failed pretty miserably.
- There has been a common theme in all of these recent losses. OREBs, TOs, 2nd chance points, shitty 3P shooting. Let's see how the Celts did
Allowed 12 OREB for 16 2nd chance points
Turned it over 16 times for 19 Pacers points
Shot 31% from three
Imagine that! They checked off all the wrong boxes and got a similar result. Once again, giving up 35 points due to self inflicted wounds in a game you lost by 5 pretty much tells you everything you need to know.
- There is little to no excuse for not being mentally focused, and there were two instances where I felt it was a clear example of doing just that. We had not one, but TWO instances of lazy inbounding passes from Jaylen under the Celts basket. The first was because he didn't raise his foot over the line taking the ball out, and the second was another lazy inbounds pas after a bucket that led to more Pacers points. Considering that one came in the 4th when the Celts were trying to make their comeback, I'd say that's pretty bad.
That pretty much summed Jaylen's night up. Pretty bad. Just 8-23 from the floor, 4 more TOs, this team goes as he and Tatum go and it's no surprise that their skid has also coincided with the overall team's skid. During this 3 game homestand so far we're seeing Jaylen put up just 38/28% splits, and seeing as how he's their #2 offensive option, that's a problem.
- When things are going poorly, you often find yourself on the wrong end of daggers. Last night the Pacers to their credit hit pretty much every big time dagger shot when they needed it, most of them coming at the end of the shot clock.
Whether it was Duarte (2 buzzer beaters) or Haliburton, most of these 3s were contested. But when you're playing like shit, the Basketball Gods do not reward you. A team that shoots 37/29% in the end of clock situations is going to shoot 50/50%. We know this because the same shit happened to start last year.
- We all want the Celts to be aggressive right? Well, part of that is the assumption that they'll be able to make their layups. Overall, the Celts were 25-57 in the paint and 16-36 at the rim in this game. That's essentially impossible to do! When you see some of the clips, it's even more embarrassing because these were WIDE OPEN looks. It's not like every attempt had to come over a shot blocker. No no, we're talking about wide open layups/plays at the rim
The brutal one was the Pritchard miss that could have cut it to 5, instead he missed and the Pacers went down and his a 3 to get it back to 10. I've just never seen a team miss so many wide open layups in my life. Pathetic.
- Let's be perfectly clear about something. I don't care who the Celts are playing, it could be the best team in the NBA or the worst team in the NBA, or anyone in between. Under NO circumstances should the Celtics find themselves down 30+ fucking points at home. Not with the talent they have on this roster. For them to dig themselves that sort of hole given how they've been losing games is beyond inexcusable.
That first quarter was easily the worst one of the year. If you were curious about what happens when you play lifeless basketball, the answer is a 42-22 quarter in which you give up a 23-5 run or some shit. This was another night where trusting the players to play through it did not work, and just like the Magic loss, everything came after an early opposition timeout. The Celts were up 8-2, the Pacers took a timeout, and the next thing we knew it was 31-13. Tell me these pictures don't look similar.
Watching the Pacers wax the floor with the Celts in those first 12 minutes, it was like watching varsity play a JV team. I'm not even sure the two teams were playing the same sport.
Sure the comeback was nice because it showed this team actually woke up, but how about we do that at the start of the game? You shouldn't need to get down by 30 FUCKING POINTS in order for you to play with energy and effort.
I know a lot of people will complain about Joe with this run, but at some point just like we said with Brad and just like we said with Ime, it's on the players to prevent these types of runs. Joe can't make someone not miss a layup. He can't stop someone from having mental lapses or being careless with the ball. This is a veteran team that knows what to do. There's no excuse for it.
Will this team ever win a game again? It's hard to say. Part of me thinks they just need to do it once to remind themselves that it's possible. So much for building that positive momentum before the big Christmas showdown with MIL, and even though the Bucks also lost last night I think we can all agree that if this version of the Celts is what shows up on Christmas, they'll lose by 50.
We know the talent is there. We've seen it. It's time to wake the fuck up and stop playing like assholes. Do that, and you'll be fine. Don't, and well this skid won't be stopping any time soon.