Tough loss. Coming off the very winnable game in Detroit, to lose another game in the last 2 minutes hurts. No other way to put it. The loss to Cleveland, I understand. Much like the Warriors, they are in a different galaxy than the Celts. Wednesday night came down to a fucking half court shot by Andre Drummond, which hurt, but a fluke. Last night, this was like when someone twists the knife already in your chest. Such a winnable game wasted, great performances by Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder were for nothing. The Celts threw this game away. Literally. I called this game a must win Friday morning, and while dramatic, I feel as though the Celts needed this win against a good opponent at home for their confidence. They seemed to be more dejected after the CLE loss than the GS one, but instead what we got was a frustrating performance that puts them a in a bit of a pickle within their conference.
Before we get into all the awfulness that was last night, I want to show everyone something that when I noticed, cheered me up a little bit. The Celtics just had a really tough stretch of their schedule. A run of SA/CHI/GS/CHA/CLE/DET/ATL is seriously no joke, and while they came out of it 2-5, it wasn’t that terrible. So why is this important. Well, sitting at 14-13, things are about to get a WHOLE lot easier over the next 8 games. See for yourself
Let’s say the Celts can manage to go 6-2 over this stretch, that puts them at 20-15, something I think we all would take. Hopefully now you feel a little bit better, so what a perfect time to relieve this shit show.
– We begin with the obvious choice. As we all know last night was Jae Crowder’s one year anniversary of becoming a Celtic. At the time, I hated the move. Despite his ability to not be a decent human being, Rondo was a big time Celtic for my generation. We all knew he had to be traded, but when we saw the return, I can’t say getting back Jae Crowder had me excited. Well, egg on my face. This dude is legit. I could not have been more wrong, and maybe I didn’t look at the situation with a clear head because I am a Rondo (on the court) guy, but this team has been drastically better since the swap.
Pre Trade: 34-71 (.341 winning percentage)
Post Trade: 45-40 (.541 winning percentage)
Last night we got a glimpse of the impact Jae Crowder can have. A complete effort, 8-13 shooting (3 threes) 24 points 10 rebounds and a team high 36 minutes. Watching him play you can tell he legitimately cares, which isn’t always the case when you get like a 500% raise. That’s probably Jae’s most important quality for me.
– They eventually went away from him, but I really liked how Amir started. He ran the floor well, which allowed the Celts to up the pace and break their putrid start. I enjoyed his decision making in that he didn’t attempt a three in his 15 minutes. With all the problems with the pick and roll (we’ll get to that later), I’m surprised we didn’t see more of him.
– Let’s be honest. Isaiah is winning you over. He might be the best scorer we’ve had since Pierce. Now with Isaiah, you might get the high point total, but on a shit ton of shots. Last night, he was efficient. A 6-12 29 point (3 threes) 6 assist performance, he basically kept us in this game all night. I loved how he was aggressive and got to his spot in the paint for the easy jumper/floater. Isaiah is one of the more interesting Celtics players of recent history, simply because his scoring style is unlike anything we’ve had. Sometimes it makes no sense how he even gets some of these shots off based on his momentum and body angle, and yet he does and nails it. He might be king of the “OH NO…OH YES” three point shot in the NBA.
All this begs to ask, what happens with Isaiah once Marcus Smart comes back. If it were me, I start Marcus #itsmy2cents. Here’s why. Isaiah will probably play more minutes and play at the end of the game anyway, so I think taking his offense and injecting it to the second unit is more important. Defensively, Isaiah needs to be guarding back up players. Offensively, Marcus needs a unit where he can hide his offensive woes.
– My man RJ! Happy for him that he got some time. Sad it came at James Young’s expense, but whatever! You see that stroke? You see that release? Porn. Legit basketball porn. A pretty perfect 17 minutes last night, and I’ve seen enough to officially give him all of Evan Turners minutes. It is a damn SHAME we did not have RJ out there in the final minutes of that game and had to deal with Jerebko shooting. Catastrophe.
Oh and for those counting at home, we are now just 2,963 behind Ray!
– With so much to choose from, let’s start with the turnovers. A total of 21 against a team like Atlanta is just asking for a loss. Of those 21, Id say a total of 16 of them were due to just mental mistakes, and lazy passes. The Celtics had issues simply handing the ball off, so to think they would be able to try an entry pass without turning it over I guess is asking too much. They were maybe at their worst to open the game, with 7 turnovers in the first quarter. Thats gross. Isaiah finished with 5, which sort of devalued what was otherwise a brilliant performance. You can only imagine how Evan Turner’s 4 made me feel. Made us all feel. The Celtics only average around 15 turnovers a game, so they played a bit out of character.
– What the hell was going on on the defensive end of the floor? Who was that team? If nothing else, this team’s identity is their defense and what we got last night was anything but. With each quarter, they Celtics got worse and worse.
1st Quarter: 19 points (36% shooting)
2nd Quarter: 23 points (43% shooting)
3rd Quarter: 29 points (47% shooting)
4th Quarter: 38 points (58% shooting)
Holy shit Batman that’s bad. Did they even try in the second half? Couldn’t stop a damn nosebleed. Most shocking to me, was their inability to stop the Hawks pick and roll. It’s not shocking that it worked for ATL, they have great players, I’m shocked because it was as if the Celtics had no idea it was coming. It showed maybe they were a bit unprepared. THIS is surprising since you know, anyone with Google could show you the Hawks love the P&R and are pretty good at it
- The Celtics got absolutely destroyed in the paint 68-36. I didn’t even know that was possible. The Hawks lived inside, and the Celts had no viable answer. Normally our front line is our best defensive group, but when you see defensive ratings of 110, 109, 105, 103, that wasn’t exactly what we saw.
– I also didn’t like how often the Celts allowed themselves to be sliced up so frequently by the Hawks. It was like watching vintage Spurs with some of the cuts they made. It made me jealous.
– Our bench got out benched, again. Aside from the flashes of life from RJ, the bench was for the most part disappointing. Olynyk has been pretty cold since the GS game. David Lee and Evan Turner are causing way way more harm than good, and Jerebko isn’t even on the planet. Playing at home, this is not the performance I expected. Some will say the inconsistent play is due to Steven’s not having a set rotation, but I don’t buy that crap. We didn’t need set rotations when the bench was playing great, these guys just suck right now.
– Unfortunately, I can’t move on without mentioning Avery. Guy’s been in a little bit of a slump the last two games, and they really need him. If he plays even decent last night, things possibly come out a little better.
– The free throws. Specifically, Sullinger’s free throws. Listen I know you aren’t going to make all your FTs as a team, but Sully has the fucking yips. A 75% shooter shooting like 58% this year? Each of his four misses I felt killed his confidence and momentum, and it’s just inexcusable. You aren’t bad at shooting FTs, so stop missing.
– I don’t do it often, or perhaps ever, but Brad Stevens dropped this one. I just didn’t love his decision making down the stretch. It was clear early in the fourth quarter that the lineup he had out there couldn’t work. He stayed with Jerebko down the stretch who had shown no signs of life this game. Evan turner played a team high 11 minutes in the fourth. How can that happen? He was 1-4 with 1 turnover (-3) and Jerebko played 8 minutes and was 0-2 and basically took the shot that lost the game. Just rare lineup decisions.
– Another home loss, that was a winnable game. Always tough to stomach games like this
So yeah that sucked. The Celts were manhandled at home in a game they had every chance to win. Blowing a 10 point lead at home just reeks of the 2013 Celtics and we need to stay far away from them. Luckily as I mentioned above things are about to get a bit easier for the Celts over the next week or so, so don’t panic. The East is still logjammed so while they didn’t do themselves any favors last night, they have every opportunity to make it up.