At Some Point Talk Becomes Cheap

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It would be silly and irresponsible of me to fall into the “sky is falling” mentality that a lot of Celtics fans feel right now. I just think 7 games into an 82 game season is a little ridiculous to start talking about trading players, how this team has no shot this year, and the season is over. A little dramatic in my opinion. NOW, having said that, I am fucking pissed. The beauty of covering this team for Barstool is I have the privilege to call things how I see it, both good performances and pathetic ones. I’ll be the first in line to sound the alarm and pound my chest when the Celtics do well, so I am going to do the exact same thing now. You may not agree with my #facts when talking about the success, but this blog will never be a “everything is awesome” space when things look horrific.  I know, that’s very big J journalist of me.

I get it, this has been a very, very frustrating few weeks for the Celts and its fans and before we dive in, there are a couple of things I want to talk through. The first and most important to me, is that talk is cheap. After the disaster against DEN, everything we heard from the team and its players was what you want. They were accountable and promised change. Well, talk is cheap when you go out and have a performance like they did last night. Don’t talk to me about how much better your effort will be, and then give up another 118 points.

I want to point out one thing that helps explain what the hell happened against the Wizards. Washington ranks 3rd in the league in OREB, and 12th in the league in total rebounds. Basically this is a huge part of their game, which just so happened to match up to Boston’s biggest weakness (25/30th). What surprises me about the reaction last night, was people were apparently shocked that this lineup got abused so bad on the glass. My question is, when you see who was on the roster in this game, why all the sudden did you think rebounding wouldn’t be a problem? Maybe it’s fair to expect things wouldn’t be THAT BAD, but guess what, even a completely healthy Celtics team isn’t a great rebounding team, so what was annoying was that they made no adjustments to compensate for this glaring problem.

There is no way to sugar coat it, the Celtics are the worst team in the league when it comes to rebounding, and shockingly, defense as well. Not exactly the way we all thought the first seven games would go, but those are the facts. They stink, and they stink bad right now.

Lets begin.

The Good

– Nope. Not today. The Celtics don’t deserve to be praised, despite some good performances from guys like Isaiah (23/6/10) and Marcus. I’m pissed, you’re pissed, why beat around the bush?

The Bad

– The easy thing to do would be to dismiss this performance because the Celtics are missing Al Horford and Jae Crowder. While obviously I can concede that they would help, this is such a lazy excuse. The problems the Celtics have right now are deeper than just missing two players. For example, what about when they played Chicago and Horford/Crowder each played over 30 minutes, and the Celtics got killed on the glass 67 (18 OREB)-44? Or against the Nets when they both played and the Celtics tied the Nets on the glass 51-51? My point is, these two do not all the sudden solve all the rebounding issues, and if you think that you are just in denial of what we’ve seen.

Take Amir Johnson for example. In terms of floor time, he is right on par with where he was last year (21.6 vs 22.8) but his rebounding production has vanished. His total rebounding rate is down nearly 5%, from 14.9 to 10.2. Things drop even further when you look specifically at his defensive rebounding rate, which has dropped from 19.6 to 13.4. Those are BIG drops in an area that is clearly important to this team’s success, especially with no Horford/Olynyk for a majority of this season. What made Johnson so effective in the first few games of the season was his energy and effort, but if I am asked what do I feel the underlying issue is with the rebounding, I am starting with Amir Johnson. He needs to pull his weight on the glass and his 3.9 rebounds a game is not cutting it. Since Amir started playing around 20+ minutes a game in his career, he’s never been worse on the glass.

The biggest problem the Celtics have on the glass is their refusal to box the fuck out. What’s frustrating is it’s not as if they are trying to handle DeAndre Jordan or Andre Drummond on the glass, they are letting guys like Otto Porter grab 14 rebounds because they are not putting forth the effort to put a body on people. The numbers are hard to look at, but when you get outrebounded 54-31, give up 19 offensive rebounds and 33 second chance points, in this league, how can you expect to win, or even be close? You can’t.

– You knew it was a frustrating night because when when they did have good position, they fumbled a rebound out of bounds that almost always led to another Wizards basket. That’s deflating basketball when you can’t even grab the fucking ball.

– Someone should have told John Wall he was up 1 billion points. Not really sure what the point of this was?

– Few were more excited for Jaylen Brown to get a chance to start, and things were even better after his performance in CLE. Well, since then, its been bad. Since that game Jaylen has gone 2-9 from the field and 0-3 from deep averaging about 17 minutes per game. Where you see his rookie stripes are on the defensive end, where he has not been holding his ground. I know he’s young and it’s very early, but his 117 defensive rating isn’t exactly great. Jaylen’s performance the last two games can be best summed up as a situation when a freshman makes varsity and has to play, but kind of just runs up and down the court and stays out of things as to not mess them up. I hate that Jaylen. I want the Jaylen who is aggressive and makes an impact when he is on the court. Screw passive Jaylen.

– I can’t talk about Jaylen and not show this play sequence, it hurt

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– Why did the Celtics get into a time machine and go back to 2013 without telling anyone. Shooting 4-22 to open a game resulting in an 8 point quarter? Decide in that same quarter to play no defense and get down a billion points before you can even blink? This is the 2013 team all over again, and we know how that ended up. They are losing these games in the FIRST FUCKING QUARTER. With a roster missing two starters, it’s not as if they have the talent available to come back from 20+ point deficits.

Another game where a team shot 50% for the game and 47% from behind the arc. If you are a team struggling to shoot, or are a player looking for a career night, now is the time to play the Celtics because they’ll give you both. Sure the rebounding impacted this, but rotations were lazy or wrong (Olynyk, Green), and when you combine that with the fastbreak point difference (15-3) this goes back to the effort issue. It’s simply not there. After this latest performance all the quotes we got were how they are no longer the hardest playing team, they aren’t playing with heart, all this bullshit. Again I say, talk is cheap, and if this is in fact true, it shouldn’t matter who is on your roster if it is an issue of effort.

– I can live with John Wall or Bradley Beal destroying you. The fact that Otto Porter Jr threw up a 34/14 on 14-19 shooting (3-5 from deep) as a career 46/23% shooter is something I will not tolerate. Yes, this is where not having Jae Crowder hurts you, but what about Smart? We see all the time Smart shut down players 1-4, and even in the second half when he started for Jaylen, Porter went 6-8. Gross.

– What does it say when your shortest player and Kelly Olynyk are both tied for the most rebounds in a game? What does it say when that number is six?

– Aside from Marcus Smart, where the hell is the second unit? Jonas/Rozier/Green/Olynyk Mickey all of whom are rotational second unit players, went 3-17 in this game. Not only is their offense struggling, but on the other side guys like Marcus Thornton and Trey Burke had 34 points combined, so they aren’t defending either. I know people will want to point to Evan Turner and how important he was, but absolutely NOBODY who roots for the Celtics was interested in Turner for 17M a year so get out of my face with that.

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– Scoring 4 points in 6 minutes, and having as many turnovers as made baskets to start a game is about as lazy and terrible as an NBA team can start. Kinda impressive really.

– You know things are really weird when the Theory fails in back to back games. Something that was bulletproof for 1.5 seasons all the sudden isn’t happening. Don’t let this discourage you, we all need something to believe in.

– Earlier in the year the Celtics only lost games while playing on a B2B. Well here is the second game in a row they are RESTED and come out and play like absolute shit on both ends. Ladies and gentleman that’s how you know you stink right now.

The Ugly

– Let me know if this is the Celtics defense you know and love. They currently rank

22nd in opponent FGM, 29th in opponent 3pM, 29th in opponent 3p%, 28th in opponent FT, 29th in opponent oreb, 30th in opponent points, 23rd in opponent TOs, and 25th in +/-.

So what does this all mean. It means they are putting up zero resistance, are fouling a shit ton giving away easy points at the line, can’t rebound, and can’t turn teams over. Another single digit steals performance, this is almost the exact opposite of what made this team good in the first place. In what world is that a recipe for success?

So much talk about a top 2 seed, 50+ wins, HOW ABOUT WE FOCUS ON NOT BEING THE WORST TEAM IN THE FUCKING LEAGUE FIRST.

– I know it’s selfish, but wasting Isaiah performances like this is such bullshit.

– It’s OK to kill this team, they deserve it, but please spare me that it’s time to trade Isaiah, time to start Smart full time (who has been JUST as bad defensively) etc. I anticipate this is going to happen a lot until they show they can actually compete on an NBA level, but still. I had people tweeting me all night about how Danny needs to go get a player like Anthony Davis, or Boogie. Let me ask you, with how they’ve started the season, which one of our assets look valuable enough to get a player like that? The answer is none. Not even those Nets picks. So as a result this needs to be fixed from within, because outside help probably isn’t coming.

So look, you have every right to be pissed off, lord knows I am, but also try and take a deep breathe. They have played 8% of the season. How they look in November is no indication of how this team could look in March/April. Lets see how they look when their full squad plays 10-15 games together before we completely write them off. Now let me be clear, that does NOT mean I am making excuses for this 3-4 start, they have nobody to blame but themselves, there are real problems that need to be addressed, and addressed quickly. I’m just not jumping off the ship because the Celtics have rebounding problems when we all knew they had rebounding problems going in. There are going to be ups and downs over the remaining 75 games, but look, things SHOULD get a little easier over the next four before GS comes to town.

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On paper (which is dangerous given the state of this team I know), these are all winnable, and if in a week the Celtics are sitting at 7-4 I think we’ll all be feeling a little better. Now excuse me, I need to go play 2K until my eyes bleed.

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