Well, it was never going to last forever. It had been 65 days since the Celts lost at the TD Garden, and it’s only fitting that their loss would come in frustrating fashion. If anything, this game resembled the type of performances we saw for the first 19 games at home. A winnable game that the Celts shot themselves out of. It happens. The shooting aspect isn’t really what frustrates me. The Celts missing threes isn’t a shock, remember their 33% ranks like 26th in the NBA. What was frustrating was Houston was struggling to shoot as well. In fact, they shot the ball WORSE, and the Celts didn’t capitalize. Huge missed opportunity IMO. With the talent HOU has, especially Harden, you knew they weren’t going to struggle like this forever, and as we saw, they got better as the game went along.
But before we dive into last night, let’s take a minute to give the winning streak the attention it deserves because it hadn’t happened in 15 years.
The first win of the streak. Why is this game important, well, with how tight the race is in the East, and the Celts already down 0-2 head to head against IND this game was crucial in their attempt to at least tie the season series. At the time the Celtics were a .500 team and were chasing the Pacers in the standings. Isaiah’s 28 and Jae’s 25 trumped anything IND threw out, and it laid the blueprint for how to beat this team.
At the time, this was a great measuring stick win. The Bulls were sitting comfortable in the 3 seed, and the Celtics were in the process of turning their season around from a previous little skid. After losing two weeks earlier in CHI, the Celts won this game strictly through execution. Both Butler and Rose were electric, and even though they were without Noah, this was a much different team than what we see now. The Celtics won this game through execution down the stretch with that huge 8-0 run in the final minutes, showed us that this team has what it takes to step on a team’s throat.
The Saturday afternoon offensive explosion. Most points in a regulation game since 2004. Celtics shot about 200% in the opening quarter. At this point the Celtics were in full streaking mode. I don’t want to say this game had some impact on the disfunction in SAC, but if you remember people were calling for Karl to be fired at halftime. They scored 74 points in the first half! This might be the best offensive performance of the entire season.
If you want to argue that this was the best Celtics performance of the season, it’d be hard to argue. Isaiah vs CP3 was everything we hoped it would be. In my mind, Isaiah’s 36 proved that he belongs in the conversation of best PG int he league. This win was all about the no quit no surrender mentality of this group. That Isaiah stepback over Jordan to this day still gives me a tickle in my pants. What a fun win.
Feb 27th: Celtics 101 Heat 89 win #10
We all know why this game was huge. A tale of two hales the Celts overcame a slow start to pull away and win a much needed game against the Heat. This win pushed the streak to double digits, and thanks to Evan Turner, gave the Celts the season series win against a team that they will be fighting against for the 3 seed for the remainder of the season. Holding a team under 100 was also nice, since it hadn’t happened in a win basically all month.
Mar 2nd: Celtics 116 Blazers 93 win #12
Another huge test for the Isaiah Thomas camp, and boy were we rewarded. Isaiah vs Dame went about as good as it can go with IT4 dropped a 30 spot on Lillard’s head. Every time Isaiah has been challenged by an “elite” PG he’s outplayed them and even though POR was coming off a back to back, remember at the time they were one of the hottest teams in the NBA (they’ve recently lost 4 of 5).
So as we say goodbye to this amazing streak, relish the fact that this was something not even the Big 3 accomplished. In the long run it doesn’t mean much, there are much longer streaks currently active in the NBA, but for this group, and this season, it was an amazing ride.
Now onto last night.
– I want to begin with the play of Jared Sullinger. Stevens mentioned pregame he was moving around with much more energy, and it translated into the actual game. Going up against Howard was definitely a challenge, but overall Sully held his ground. Holding DH to 12/12 is something I’ll take everyday of the week. His defensive rating of 92 in 31 minutes of action basically tells the story. This may have been the most complete game of Sullinger’s season. His line was more than you can expect with Dwight defending: 9-18 24 points 12 rebounds 4 assists 4 (!!) steals and ZERO turnovers. What a performance.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2016
- On Friday we were blessed with the “Is Isaiah Thomas a Top 20 player” argument on Felger and Mazz. I know, I know, you can’t take anything these clowns say to heart, but fuck man. This is why we fight. My favorite part is they were so quick to name players that aren’t having as good of seasons as Isaiah (Wall/Irving) and other players who he’s outplayed head to head (Lillard, CP3). Knocks about his shooting apparently do not matter in regards to those players who shoot worse than him. Hearing them try and struggle to name 20 better players than Isaiah RIGHT THIS SECOND was everything I could have wanted. Well, enter last night. Isaiah 30 Harden 32. So here is another case of a superstar player that Isaiah either outplays or matches, and yet he’s the only one being left out of that Top 20 discussion. It’s disgusting. It’s wrong. I will not stand for it. Isaiah and Sully were really the only starters who showed up, and da gawd delivered
Isaiah is cold blooded. pic.twitter.com/uCuU6QNTer
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2016
For a guy that can’t shoot, I must be missing something: 10-21 from the field (5-9 from three). I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy who night in night out CONTINUES TO DROP 30 and still doesn’t get the respect he derserves. Not a Top 20 player, 6th man at best on a title team, it’s bananananananaland.
– Jonas Jerebko or James Harden/Manu Ginobli you be the judge
Jonas Jerebko just hit the Rockets with this filthy Eurostep: pic.twitter.com/OhnJXp5Jih
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 12, 2016
- Let’s give the young guy his first props of the season. Terry Rozier had a great appearance last night. Getting minutes in the 3rd quarter was weird to see, and while he was a bit out of control, he more than made up for it. His 7 rebounds in just 10 minutes was crazy, and I loved his energy. Who knows what the expect with this kid, but if this was a glimpse on what we can expect, I don’t hate it.
– While they couldn’t pull it off, we saw another example of this team’s refusal to quit. Once they got down 10 with about 8 minutes remaining, they could have just folded. A large percentage of NBA teams probably do. Instead, they battled and cut the lead to 4. As a fan that’s all you could want. A team that never gives up until the final whistle.
– Everybody knows the rules. Big man running gets you a seat in the Good section.
– It started early, and it effected everyone. The amount of lazy passing we saw last night is borderline repulsive. Whether it was Jae’s lazy cross court pass in the first quarter, or Avery’s lazy passing in the second, or Isaiah’s 6 turnovers, you just can’t pass the ball like this and expect to beat good teams. Especially when you’re struggling to shoot the ball, playing careless like this is infuriating.
– Fucking Avery man. What a tough night for the guy. Safe to say, his shooting struggles were a major part of why this team stalled. You just can’t miss that many wide open threes, specially when you’re taking them from your sweet spots. A handful of times when the Celts desperately needed a momentum bucket, Avery came up short. His 1-8 performance from deep really really hurt them. It was basically the theme of the night, but if the Celts are going to be successful, they need Avery to make open looks. Period.
– Speaking of threes, I think the Celts fell in love with the long jumper and that’s what happens when they shoot it so well the previous game. Taking 31 threes is too many for this team to take. I understand most of them were open, but when you look at last night they cut the lead and had success when they took it to the basket. Going 8-31 is the kiss of death. Jae 0-6, Avery 1-8, Smart 0-4 was just brutal to watch.
– Something I think Brad will make a pint of when the team watches film, is how badly they struggled defending the pick and roll. I’m not sure if it was a lack of communication or what, but it hasn’t been that bad in a long time.
– We did this to ourselves
If it was Harden dominating, or Dwight making a huge impact, those are things i can live with. Michael Beasley destroying you is something I just cannot accept. That was probably the most frustrating part of last night. You can’t let that happen, and make no mistake, Beasley OWNED the Celts last night. I almost threw up typing that sentence. His 18/8 was the difference in the game, and something he probably won’t do for the rest of the year. Disgusting.
– In a game where 60% of the starters struggled, the Celts really needed their ben ch to pick them up, and that just didn’t happen. Smart was 2-8, Turner 1-6, Jonas 1-2, Zeller 2-6, Rozier 1-3. Not exactly what I would call a great showing by the second unit. In fact, you could argue that it was that second unit that truly lost the game for the Celts with that brutal second quarter. The Celtics never truly recovered from that 27-20 quarter, and that was tough to watch.
– Jae’s sprained ankle. Heading into the toughest stretch of their schedule, this was the last thing the Celts need. Those who joke about how important Crowder is are about to get a glimpse of his true value. Not sure how long he’ll be out, but this concerns me. With PG13, Durant, Derozan, coming up, we really need Jae on the floor.
– Listen, I know they’ve won games during the streak in these grey uniforms, but I just hate them. I don’t know whose call it is on what uniforms they wear, but what the fuck is going on. Why are they still trying to make these a thing. They are awful.
– You won’t win when you shoot 37% and get destroyed in the paint. Now the points in the paint is misleading, because Brad basically played small ball the whole game, but when you take that and add in the 31 points the Rockets got off turnovers, it’s enough to make you sit in a dark room for hours wondering what happened. Or maybe that was just something I did.
It wouldn’t feel right if the Celtics didn’t make things hard on themselves, and with Miami cruising through their cake walk stretch of their schedule, are now just .5 games back of that 3 seed. Unfortunately, things only get harder for the Celts over the next two weeks, and in my mind this was one of those games they kind of needed to win. Now anything can happen (shit OKC just lost at home to MN), so theres no reason to think the Celtics can’t get back on track.
Look, all the progress made over a 14 game home winning streak, and the last 30 or so games doesn’t get erased with one loss. Last night was a weird game, and the Celts probably won’t continue to struggle shooting to that same degree moving forward. Win a couple of these games coming up, and I’ll be as confident as ever.