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The Celtics Couldn't Stop Al-Farouq Aminu. Wait What?

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That’s a tough one to drop. Put this one pretty high up there on the frustration shelf. Make no mistake about it, thiswa a game the Celtics blew. They played like absolute shit down the stretch. As I write this, I’m not sure my brain can comprehend how when you hold Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum to 11-35 (2-13 from three) you don’t win. What? How is that possible. Well, because of fucking Al-Farouq Aminu. That’s how. We’ll get to him later.

The pain comes because the Celtics are in no position to be dropping winnable games. Especially when the team of death awaits you the next night. Yes, the Celts are a 6 seed. That’ll probably change every single night for the next 12 days. I mean, the Heat lost to the Lakers, so everyone’s had weird nights. The bad part is the Celts are looking at another little three game skid. Right after they won four, which came after they lost four. This is what the Celtics do. Nobody should be surprised, this is our fate. This is how we earn our stripes.

But I can’t kid, this loss kept me up tossing and turning. Mother fucking Al-Farouq Aminu haunting my life. Let’s get to it.

The Good

– Where else could we possibly start. I don’t know what I expected from Jae Crowder in his first game back in 20 days, but it was beyond anything I ever thought possible. He looked fantastic. Not just his production, but how he moved. How he reacted to contact, changing directions, and when it was all said and done, 34 minutes. The points (13) and rebounds (10) were nice, but you could tell the team just felt more confident with him there. Right as the game started he made an instant impact

it’s clear he’s the missing piece. Things seem more at ease with him back in his starting role, everyone plays more comfortable. And obviously, Jae still has ability to take and make huge shots I’m glad he’s back, I’m glad he moved as well as he did considering it was a high ankle, we need him. 

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– Part of what makes this loss so frustrating is because of how well the Celtics played early. Their offense in that first quarter used good motion and ball movement. They stormed out of the gate shooting 50% and dropped 31 points. The Celts moved the ball (7 assists on 11 baskets) well and it was the perfect start. It wasn’t just the offense early though. The defense the Celts played to end the first quarter is what excites me. Steals on steals on steals lead to easy transition baskets, which lead to that early lead.

Oh and Aggressive Kelly Olynyk. Such a ridiculous weapon when he just grips it and rips it.

– So how many more times do we need to see Isaiah outplay Damian Lillard? I know, it’s all about the W, which Isaiah didn’t get (he already has one) but when you look at their games head to head this season, Isaiah has played better. Period. See for all the defensive issues that Isaiah supposedly has, we saw AGAIN that opposing guards have just a hard of time stopping him. It’s honestly pick your poison. I hear a lot about what are you going to do with Isaiah on defense in the playoffs, who can he guard. Well…why did POR have McCollum try and guard Isaiah if Lillard is such a great defender? That didn’t work either

but then OK, let’s see how Lillard fared. Oh that’s right…ADIOS

So as you can see, Isaiah could not be kept out of the paint. Now it’s true, he struggled at times amongst the trees, but the thing that makes Isaiah great, is he immediately forgets the previous play. He had no fear. Miss a key FT at a big moment in the game? Whatever, he’ll just hit a three in your eyeball

– Oh and before I forget, Isaiah also won a tip. That’s a real thing that happened. Also, congrats to him for breaking Larry Bird’s record, even though he doesn’t care, I do.

– I loved how Avery came out and started that third quarter. After struggling in the first half, Brad did a great job of running Avery off multiple high screens where he was then able to knock down that jumper off the dribble. He was possessed. When Avery knocks down those type of shots, the Celtics are tough to beat, and it should come as no surprise that when this started happening, the Celtics finally built a lead. I think it’s safe to say that Avery’s slump is over. Thank God.

– Despite still not being able to make a shot, Marcus Smart still made an impact. In fact, last night was another case in which I don’t think he played that poorly. His line was modest, 6/5/4, but he continued his streak of doing things that just make you watch in awe. This play was one of em

Sure he can make a crazy left handed shot like this, but God forbid he hits a jumper.

– Believe it or not, the Celtics aren’t even in this game late if it wasn’t for Amir Johnson’s work on the offensive glass. Officially he’s credited with 5 OREB, but he probably had 3 or 4 more plays of just tapping the ball out to extend a possession. His 12/9 were great, and a nice rebound from a bad couple of games, but the Celtics are going to need this from him on a consistent basis if they want to have any sort of success this year.

– I loved Evan Turner’s shot chart

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– I’m not sure why they didn’t go to it more, but Sullinger had great success in the paint last night. He was just too bug fir POR front line to handle. That running sky hook in the first quarter? Where has that been all my life. Another double/double for Sully, the guy is playing his way into a lottttttt of money come this summer. Whether it be from the Celtics or someone else.

– While it was all for nothing, I’m still giving credit to the Celts for getting back into this game, overcoming a 13 point deficit, and even grabbing a late lead. They could have just folded once the fourth started and POR made their first four shots, but they didn’t. They chipped away, and had a legit chance to steal this game, they just collapsed down the stretch, no biggie.

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The Bad

– I suppose it was a forewarning, but blowing an 8 point lead essentially three separate times is never ideal. It’s hard enough to get a lead on the road against a good team, it’s absolutely frustrating to keep getting one, and then keep giving it back. Portland was asking the Celtics to take this game from them, and they couldn’t close the deal. That’s unfortunate.

– The reason why they kept giving back these leads, was because the Celtics couldn’t take care of the ball. Five turnovers in the first quarter, SIX in the fourth, and 15 for the game. How many times can you play that sloppy on the road against an over .500 team and win? The answer is almost never. Careless passes by Turner, Bradley, and mostly Isaiah, led to big momentum bucks for the Blazers.

– Something that is becoming a trend with this team, is their inability to stop Gerald Henderson. You’d think the guy would show some mercy given his family’s Celtics ties, but nope. He kills them every single time he plays. In fact, for his career, the 13.5 points he averages against BOS is one his highest averages against any team. Now that doesn’t seem like a lot of points, but with every matchup against him, it seems as though he hits DAGGERS. Last night was no different. His 15/5/5 off the bench were tough, and his fourth quarter scoring was the problem. I will not be unhappy when he finally retires. Gerald Henderson, jesus christ.

– I don’t know why I don’t expect this on the regular now, but the Celtics being in the bonus with 8:13 left in the third quarter is just ridiculous. Every game it seems the Celtics play an entire quarter in the bonus, and that absolutely cannot continue. Now some fouls they earned, but to have that many that quick is stupid. The frustration comes when they finally build a double digit lead, they can’t go for the kill because every touch foul led to points.

– Not only did they blow 8 point leads in the first quarter, they blew their 12 point lead in the 3rd. This was 2013 all over again.

– Is this fourth quarter good?

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The Ugly

– Al-Farouq Aminu’s career high entering last night was 20 points. Last night he made 6 threes and scored a career high 28. The Celtics took a gamble by letting him be the one who beat them, and he beat them. That is repulsive. Aminu shoots 41% from the field and 35% from three (career 31%), and he might as well have been Steph Curry. I can handle Lillard or McCollum going off, I cannot stomach letting this guy be the reason you lost. They couldn’t stop him, and when 90% of his looks are wide open, that’s a tough break. I don’t think even his Mom knew he could shoot like that, so I don’t fault Brad Stevens for trying that strategy, they just got burned. What’s great is he probably won’t have a night like this again in his entire career, so that’s awesome.

– The 7 missed FTs from Isaiah/Olynyk/Crowder haunted me for a very very long time last night. They don’t miss those, and honestly they shouldn’t seeing as how they are our best FT shooters, this game is entirely different. Things you can’t do if you want to beat good teams. Turn the ball over, and miss FTs. Someone forgot to make that clear apparently.

And overall the Celts are a good FT shooting team, which again is why this bothers me so much. It’s not as if its Amir missing all these FTs, it’s our best players. Rough.

– Isaiah’s 5 turnovers and 1 assist night. Most notably, the turnover late that went off his foot and lef to a POR fast break dunk to pretty much seal things. Isaiah has been on a assist slump as of late, and I relate this a lot to the Dallas game earlier in the year when he had a similar turnover. That stuff happens with him. Awful timing and inexcusable, but remember without his big 3 earlier, it a mute point anyway. Either way, that has to be cleaned up.

– I’ll come out and say it. This call decided the game. You cannot make a call like this. This play was a charge. Plain and simple. Instead the refs took the game into their own hands, gave Lillard the homecourt call, and those FTs iced the game. You don’t want to call a charge Fine, then make it a no call or something, and let the players decide the game. See for yourself, this is a charge.

So no big deal, just have the Warriors tonight riding a 53 game home winning streak. That’s not bad. The Celts hung with them earlier in the year and took it to double OT, but that was at the end of a ridiculously long road trip for the Dubs so I would expect a little different performance tonight. Now, if they win? The entire season is a success, I don’t care if they get swept in the first round. Ending the 53 game streak would be the tits.

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Now does Crowder play tonight? I’d bet no. This team needs to think long term, and it may not even be worth it. I’d rather have him against LAL so the Celts have a better chance of ending this trip on a good note.

So while it sucks that the Celtics threw away a prime opportunity to turn this entire trip around, this position shouldn’t really surprise anyone. Being streaky is what we do, so before you know it there will be a four game winning streak just like there always is. I hope.

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