Well that certainly lived up to the hype no? Sweet Jesus as I write this I’m still shaking. What a game, what an effort, and sadly, what heartbreak. With so much to get to, let’s start with the obvious. The Warriors and Celtics might as well live in different universes, but if you watched last night, you couldn’t tell. Yeah GS was missing two starters, but the Celts were without Smart and GS has basically been killing everyone anyways so I don’t want to hear that. I think for Celtics fans, deep down we just didn’t want a blowout. Of course no one TRULY expected them to pull the upset, we were hopeful, but in their biggest game of the year, coming off an emotional win against CHI, all I wanted was a competitive game
I view tonight just like SA…compete and don’t get blown out and I’m happy…but if the celts pull it out oh lord
— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) December 11, 2015
As we saw, it damn near happened. In fact, as well get to later, the Celtics basically blew this win as crazy as that sounds (probably not that crazy). This made me think, have I actually been underselling this Celtics team? I mean after the SA game which should have been another slaughter, then taking the best team on the planet to 2 OTs, maybe a 4 seed prediction is a bit low? I mean say what you want about their roster, their lack of a “superstar” but they are hanging with the elite of the NBA and showing that they are every bit as capable. I was hesitant to write that sentence after the SA game, but after last night it’s almost impossible to deny. In fact, if you are, you just aren’t willing to accept that maybe the Celtics rebuild is happening much quicker and much better than you initially thought. Also, fuck you.
So yeah it sucked that the Celts couldn’t pull this one out and end the streak, but I’ll allow you to be angry/sad for about 30 seconds because you should feel GREAT after what was probably the best game in the Garden since 2012. Let’s see why.
– We’ll start this off exactly how the game started. With Avery Bradley turning NBA Jam Fire hot. It was almost the EXACT same start he had in SA. Just unconcious. He shot the ball with great confidence, but that’s not what I loved most about his opening quarter. What I loved is how they got him open early, which lead to some easy jumpers. If you watch Avery and the sets that the Celts run for him, they all pretty much look the same. They like to run him off screens so he can catch the ball in motion, take a dribble, and pull up. Seems pretty basic right? Well there is a method to the madness. This year, Avery is currently shooting 67% on pull up jumpers (29-43). That’s crazy. So it only makes sense that in a HUGE game where offense would be crucial, they ran their bread and butter to get their best shooter his best shot. Loved that.
Anyone who has ever gotten into that ‘zone’ on a basketball court knows what happens next. You hit a couple of smooth jumpers, all the sudden you start to feel yourself, and boom its time to let it fly from deep. Avery was in said zone last night in that first quarter, and this is why his midrange game is so important. It allows him to do stuff like this
– While it may not seem like it because they gave up 124 points, I actually was pretty impressed with the Celtics defense last night. The numbers don’t really tell the story, as pretty much everyone on the roster had a defensive rating over 100, but this was definitely the toughest matchup GS has had thus far. As a team they only shot 39% from the field and only 29% from three. I chalk that up as a win for the Celts. They were able to hold Steph Curry to his worst shooting performance of the year (9-27) and that’s all you can ask for. Again these guys are aliens. What’s crazy is that as good as those numbers are, Curry still dropped 38, but I liked the job Avery/Jae & Co. did on him for the most part. They were in his face as best as anyone could, forced him into 8 turnovers, and most importantly, they didn’t get blown out.
– In maybe the upset of the century, Kelly Olynyk overcame his manbun to have his best game of the season, and in my opinion, was the best player the Celtics had last night. Usually the manbun gives you Hesitant Olynyk who sucks, but instead we got Aggressive Olynyk who rules. I’m curious to see what the KO haters have to say after this performance? Consistency with him will always be his biggest obstacle, but his potential man, his potential is encouraging.
At 7ft, he is just such a matchup problem. I joke around calling him Dirk-Lite, but he kinda sorta is. I mean look at this
Kelly would finish with a team high 28 points off the bench which is all fine and dandy, but what impressed me about his performance was that he did not shy away from the moment. He let it rip in huge pressure moments and he made them. That is what you should be paying attention to. How this team is responding to big moments, because that is showing you the progress in their development.
– Big moment for the #FREEJAMESYOUNG movement. Maybe the best moment of the season. Here’s a little fun fact for you. James Young led the Celtics in +/- with a +3. He came into the game and instantly made his presence felt. Another 20 minutes for him, Brad will have no choice but to free our man if he keeps this kind of play up. His numbers were modest, 5 points 4 rebounds 2 assists, but he defense was great, especially in transition. Also, look at that jumper, so fucking smooth
– Look I hate Evan Turner just like the rest of you, but I am a man of honesty. Without him (at times) this exciting game does not happen. He does have an ability to get to his spot that really no one else other than Isaiah has, and he did make some pretty big buckets. Here is where I sit with ET. He makes you love him because he gets you there, but then once you are there, he gets too cocky and fucks it up in the most brutal way possible. Last night was no different.
– Maybe my favorite sequence of the night came deep in the fourth quarter with about 4 minutes left with the Celtics clinging to a 96-94 lead. Sully with the great block by himself on an island, Jae coming over and causing havoc for a huge turnover.
Very next possession, Isaiah with the gigantic three. When he made this, for the first time all game I thought maybe the Celts could pull it out. Just such a crazy sequence of events.
– We can’t end this section without mentioning how resilient this team is. Down big against SA? They come back. Can’t hit anythign against CHI early? No problem. Get down by double digits in the second half against the best team in the universe? Ha! They just keep coming and coming and coming. Down 11, we witnessed a 13-1 run to get back in it and eventually take the lead. Most teams that play the Warriors cave when they make their 3rd quarter push, but not this group. I stress again, pay attention to the process, this is a HUGE takeaway for me.
– The Celtics may be the worst layup shooting team in the entire NBA. It’s almost shocking. Just fucking dunk it. Really only one stood out to me and unfortunately it came at the absolute worst time. Poor David Lee.
– In such a big game against such an elite opponent, you just cannot turn the ball over the way the Celtics did. Turnovers happen, I get that, but the timing of the Celts mental mistakes were really what made this hurt. Isaiah was by far the biggest culprit, with 6 total and 3 of them coming in the 4th quarter and OT, and they were just tough plays. You could see he was forcing the ball, trying to make too much out of nothing, and unfortunately, they came back to bite them. I want to be mad at Isaiah, but I can’t.
– Speaking of Isaiah, a lot of people probably have a problem with how he ended regulation and OT. I’m split on this. I do think that he played a bit of hero ball in both situations, but you have to remember the situation. Remember at the end of regulation he had that great dribble drive to tie it at 103, so I don’t hate him wanting to take the last shot to end the game. Maybe a timeout here from Brad might have helped, but it was just a bad decision on IT4’s part. Frankly it reminded me of the Paul Pierce years where he just dribbled, dribbled, and dribbled then tried a pullup jumper that would just get blocked/get off after the clock went off.
In the OT, this is the possession that REALLY needed a timeout, but I understand Brad’s thinking. Roll the dice and don’t let GS set up on D and see what happens. Tough breaks on both plays, but remember we shouldn’t have even been in these positions.
– Why do I say that? Well the Celtics were up by 5 with about 1:20 left in the 4th quarter. You HAVE to close that game out. Curry did Curry things and that’s fine, but man, that should have been it.
– For the love of God did Draymond Green destroy Sullinger. Just completely annihilated him. Draymond is such a ridiculous player, and while he runs his mouth like crazy, he backs it up. Sully going 3-11 offensively just shows me that Draymond was in his head, and that’s unfortunate.
– Finally, the rebounding. Just a slaughter on the glass. A 67-51 advantage gfor GS with 17 offensive rebounds. Probably not going to win that way. Despite the numbers what really bothered me is how this Celtics team is physically rebounding. I absolutely hate this one handed rebound crap. They teach you in Biddy Basketball to go up strong with two hands. All of our big men do this, and it drives me insane.
– In a drastic turn of events, I’m leaving this section empty. There were some brutal moments, but overall I’m happy so everyone gets a pass for this section. I’m sure they are thrilled.
So as a Celtics fan, you should feel pretty good today. I think the Celts have shown that they are capable with running with anyone in this league, and this is a big step for them in their development. I’m just happy the Celts didn’t get embarrassed, and sooner or later they will get over this final hurdle and start pulling these games out.
Now, here’s what has me worried. The Cetics play today against CHA, and I’m a bit afraid of a letdown. Physically and mentally. The Hornets are no joke, sit at 14-8 and have won 4 in a row. All of the good feelings from last night will mean nothing if we lay an egg tonight. The Celts have been pretty solid in back to backs recently, so I’m ready to talk myself into this one.