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After Blowing Out The Bucks The Boston Celtics Reminded The World Why They're The Best Team On The Planet

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

Hello everybody, welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday yesterday, I know I certainly did. I don't know about you but few things bring me as much joy as watching the Celts dominate, but things go up a few notches when the opponent just so happens to be the Milwaukee Bucks. The two best teams, star loaded rosters, a little bit of a history between the two, these games always mean more. Both fanbases are insufferable and both had this game circled for months. The Celts looking to back up what we saw in the Spring and to send a message of who truly is the best team in the NBA, and the Bucks looking for some revenge. 

For those who may not be keeping score at home, yesterday's win now marks the 3rd straight and 4th in 5 games for the Celts in this matchup. In fact, if you were to just look at their regular season matchups the Celts have won 4 of the last 6. Add in 4 of 7 in the playoffs, and you're looking at 8 of 13. That's pretty good! Considering the Bucks generally kick this shit out of every other team they play, there's no denying at this point that the Celts have the upper hand at the moment in this matchup. 

You know the same way people talk about how the Warriors own the Celts? The same is true with the Celts and the Bucks until further notice. Sorry, that's just the reality of the situation.

I think anyone would be crazy to not respect the Bucks. Despite this result, they still have the profile of a legit contender. Elite defense, MVP candidate, a legit DPOY candidate, championship experience, 2nd best record in the NBA, elite net rating and point differential, they are a very good basketball team. There's a reason why pretty much every Celtic talked about that after the game. Iron sharpens iron to some degree ya know?

Playing the Bucks clearly brings out the best in Boston. While games like the Suns 40 point win are cool, I like these so much more. Not just because of the opponent, but because the Bucks never really go away. They make you earn the win. You have to continue to find ways to execute for a full 48 minutes, and I like to see the Celts be challenged like that. I want to see them show us that they can play a full 48, and despite the Bucks finding ways to respond over the course of a game there's always going to be a counterpunch. That's what we saw last night. The game was around 4-8 points for the majority of it and it required the Celts to step up to the plate and execute. Their best players needed to show up in the biggest moments Going up against an elite defense, that should have you feeling pretty damn good today.

Just like we said after the horrific Warriors loss, we need to remain consistent now that the Celts had a gigantic win like this. It is just one game. If you now go out and don't close out the homestand well, this sort of loses its luster. But we can all agree it was a not gigantic win, but a much needed win. I think we all feel a little bit better compared to maybe a week ago. 

Alright, chances are you're not working today so clear your calendar and let's dive in.

The Good

- Another MVP candidate came into the Garden last night and once again a certain someone stuffed him into a locker and showed the world what an MVP actually looks like

We are currently watching a generational Celtic folks. Now you may be confused how Jayson Tatum was able to pull this off since very loud morons spent weeks telling you that he never shows up in big games and that he doesn't have that "dog mentality" or "killer instinct". All you can do is sit back and laugh at those idiots. God forbid the Celts ever lose a basketball game over the course of an 82 game season. I'm just curious, does Tatum now have that killer instinct? Does it come and go? It's all so confusing. How could something like this be possible for a guy who never shows up in big games?

(remember, the PHX one was in about 2.5 quarters too)

Just like he did last season and then again in the postseason, Tatum was the best player on the court in a game that included Giannis. A guy many people consider the best player in the world right now. That feels pretty decent. When I say we're watching a generational Celtic, I'm not kidding

(shoutout Isaiah)

Pretty much everything about Tatum's night was spectacular. He got into the Tatum 50 Ball Zone, and once that happens all you can do is pray. When his fadeaways don't even consider touching the rim, you know he's locked in. The beauty of this performance was there wasn't a single Bucks defender that gave him issues. Wes Matthews? I didn't even notice him. Jrue Holiday? Too small. Giannis? Tatum had 10 points in 7 possessions against Giannis, so he got cooked too. 

This is the biggest issue the Bucks have playing the Celtics. They have a tough time guarding either Jay for a full 48 minutes, and in a game where neither can be covered, well this result is what happens. I mean the guy finished 14-22 (3-7) and 10-10 from the FT line. A little 41/7/5/3 in only 35 minutes. If that's not an MVP caliber performance, I'm not sure what is.

- As we so often say, the best part about having both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on your team is the fact that you have BOTH Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on your team. Fire and Ice like you read about

Jaylen got us started with a monster first quarter (13 points on 5-8 shooting, 3-3 from deep), but his night was so much more than just his 29 points on 11-19 (5-9). He also had 5 boards and 4 assists, and for the second straight game backpacked this team in the fourth quarter while Tatum got his usual rest.

What I loved the most about Jaylen's night was his patience. This is honestly true of how the entire roster played, but Jaylen especially. In big moments down the stretch of this game, Jaylen didn't panic and he didn't force things offensively even though he was hot. There was the great patience and cross court pass to Grant for that corner three. Then he did it again on a great drive and lob to Rob. Whatever funk Jaylen may have been in a week ago he clearly looks out of now and he's back to playing at an All NBA level. When you have Tatum playing at an MVP level and Jaylen at an All NBA level and they combine for 70 points, the Celts are extremely tough to beat.

I also loved his self evaluation after the game. The fact that he knows and understands his weaknesses is a great sign, it means he knows what and how to fix it

We all would agree that when Jaylen plays free, he's virtually unstoppable. It's those times when he speeds himself up or maybe overthinks things that the bad shit usually follows. I love this mentality and you should too.

- It should surprise no one that Marcus Smart returned to the lineup and the offense has looked incredible ever since. He's essentially putting on a point guard clinic these last two games on both ends of the floor. Offensively his shot selection and decision making has been beyond ideal. The man has 18 assists and 1 TO over his last two games, his shooting has been in control and then you add in his DPOY caliber defense and it's pretty clear he's a main part of what makes this team go

With every game he plays we see more and more examples of why Smart is the perfect starting point guard for this roster. Tatum and Brown are the stars, they're the #1 and #2 guys, we all understand that. But so much of how this team does relies on what version of Marcus Smart they get. When he's playing at this level and with this approach, it's contagious. Think of their energy in their last two games compared to what we saw against the Pacers. It's night and day. Why? Marcus. Period. 

- The fact that there was so much crying about the offensive approach during the skid made no sense to me. A good approach can still have a bad result. Notice how there wasn't any crying about Mazzull Ball yesterday? I mean, 39 of the 85 FGA were 3PA. People just didn't cry because the Celts made 19.

That's the entire point. Through 34 games there have been WAY more performances like last night than the little skid we lived through. This is what Mazzulla Ball does. How many other teams are going up against the 2nd best defense and doing this?

This is why Joe was never concerned and when asked about maybe changing his offensive approach he instead doubled down on it and basically threatened to tell his players to take MORE 3PA. Love and Trust for me one time. Last night was not an outlier performance, this is the norm for Mazzulla Ball. The outlier was the 6 game stretch the Celts couldn't break 30% from deep. 

- I think my favorite part of the tweet above has to be the 11 TOs. When this team doesn't turn the ball over, I don't know how they lose. We're now 2 years into the sample size of where the Celts need to be TO wise. Keep it to under 14-16 and you are the most unstoppable force on the planet

Their recent skid is no different

vs ORL: 14 TOs (L)

vs ORL: 16 TOs (L)

vs IND: 16 TOs (L)

vs MIN: 11 TOs (W)

vs MIL: 11 TOs (W)

Take care of the ball, you win. Simple as that. If this team is also going to make their threes again at the same time? Good luck.

- I don't want to get ahead of myself, but if this is Derrick White snapping out of his funk we're going to be in great shape

I thought Derrick was very solid for the second straight game, and the best part for me was after he saw success attacking the rim against the Wolves he did the exact same shit against the Bucks. I'm thinking the best way to use Derrick offensive is early in these games when guys are trying to get their rhythm going. It feels like both great starts these last two games had a bunch of Derrick White layups/plays at the rim. Now that he's seen a couple actually go in, he looks so much more confident attacking and as we know, a confident Derrick is a completely different player. 

It should then surprise no one that once he had that confidence, he went 2-3 from deep. A team best +20, it's hard to not like what we saw from Derrick.

- As a team, you never really "stop" Giannis. Your best bet is to try and make life tough on him, try and keep him out of the paint, and see if you can slow him down. 

I'm pretty sure no team in the NBA does this better than the Boston Celtics, and the proof is in the pudding.

Tremendous team defense against Giannis in this game, with Al/Grant/Rob/Jaylen executing the gameplan to perfection. Giannis finished just 9-22 (1-5), and when you look at his approach it's the exact thing you want to see against a player with his offensive style

If Giannis is going to make a bunch of midrange jumpers, good for him. I'll take those odds all day. But look at what he did in the paint, just 2-8. This is one of the most dominant paint players the NBA has ever seen, yet the Celts' size and scheme continue to make him look extremely ordinary. They don't have to double Giannis because their individual defenders are both strong as fuck and smart as hell. They know all Giannis' moves and aren't afraid of contact. This is not a small sample either, I gave you the last 8 games Giannis has faced this defense and it's basically the same shit every time. 

- One day the Bucks will learn that leaving Grant Williams wide open for 3PA is a bad idea. I don't know when that day will come, but they should probably stop doing it

I think this is what happens when an entire city/fanbase/franchise tries to deny that Game 7 happened last year. You don't learn from your mistakes by living in denial. Grant has to give Bucks fans nightmares and I find that to be very, very funny.

- Wild to think in a game in which the Celts made 19 3PM, they also outscored the Bucks in the paint 54-40. I thought that was the Bucks whole deal? Add in an edge in fastbreak points as well and this was an ass kicking no matter how you sliced it.

Largest lead of 22, 0 times tied and only 3 lead changes, this was a wire to wire beatdown and frankly we all needed it.

- I dunno what Joe said at halftime, but I'm thinking he went with the motivational speech. The Bucks had gone on a little bit of a run to end the half and made this a 1 point game, only for the Celts to come out of the break with their foot on the gas and get that separation that was never really challenged again. A beautiful 3rd quarter from essentially everyone (especially Tatum)

and I think that's a box that we were all happy to check. How would they come out mentally knowing that the Bucks sort of stole the momentum? Would they come out flat and panic? Would we see that "oh fuck not again" bullshit that was the root of their skid?

The answer was no. No we did not.

The Bad

- I'll be honest, giving up 118 on 50% shooting isn't the best I've ever seen this defense play. I never like to see multiple quarters where you give up 30+, and the lowest the Bucks ever put up was 25. While their individual defense on Giannis was solid, Brook Lopez went 7-8, Jrue 8-14, Pat Connaughton 5-9 etc. The 139 points scored is cool, but let's get back to the low 100s defensively if that's OK with everyone.

You have to be able to get stops. Shooting will come and go, but defense should be consistent no matter what.

- Speaking of Pat Connaughton, what the hell man. I know he's from MA, but why does he never seem to miss whenever these two teams play? This isn't me suggesting he stinks, it's me asking what the hell he has against MA that he keeps torching the Celts like this, especially from three. Did the Celts pass on him or something and rob him of being the hometown hero? That's my only explanation.

- No surprise that the quarter in which the Celts saw their lead shrink was the only quarter they had TO problems. They built an 8 point lead in the first quarter while turning it over 0 times, only to blow that lead immediately with 5 TOs in the second quarter. 

I'll say it again. Turn the ball over, you die. Don't turn it over, you win. It's that simple.

The Ugly

- I'm still annoyed that Jaylen missed 3 straight FTs to end the half and 4 total on the night. The guy is an 80% FT shooter this season, so please cut the shit. I don't think I've ever seen someone miss 3 straight like that, but boy was that annoying. Add in his 4 TOs which led the team and there were some parts of Jaylen's night that obviously weren't great. Overall, he was awesome, but those tiny things can add up.

- I forgot how much it annoyed me to watch Giannis travel as he barrels into a defender only to get the foul in his favor. That shit is so pathetic. Sad that even with all that help he still struggled.

- I didn't know Sam Hauser was capable of air balling a wide open corner three. What's the deal with that shit lately? Jaylen the other night and no Hauser. Granted he immediately made up for it with his half court heave that went in, but it was still very weird. The corner 3 is basically the easiest shot in basketball for a shooter, so I'm going to need the Celts to actually start hitting the rim on those.

So here we go. A big time win against an elite opponent, let's see this team keep building and finish out this homestand strong. 0-3 was a bit of a disaster, but 4-3 is now on the table in my opinion. The Celts lead in the East is up to 1.5 games and I need that to keep growing. Oh, and if you weren't already over the moon today, maybe this will help