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There Is No Other Way To Say It, Last Night Was The Very Definition Of An Awful Loss

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I don’t know what it is, or why they do it, but the Celtics continue to struggle against really bad teams. Last year it was the Nets and Lakers, this year through the first 10 games there are two Ls on their record to teams who are now a combined 7-23. They gave Washington their second win of the year, and unfortunately, they did the same last night in New Orleans. Going into this game you figure Anthony Davis is going to do his thing but given the rest of their roster, and how well the Celts had suddenly been playing, this wasn’t a situation where not having Horford and Crowder should have mattered like it did in Indiana the other night.

The problem with losses like these is they are a momentum killer. When you play bad teams like this and are looking to build confidence a loss will always do more to your team than that win would. It would be fair for you to feel anger and disappointment about the fact that the Celtics AGAIN played down to their competition, lord knows I am. I’m tired of this one step forward two step backwards bullshit. I don’t want to overreact too much because it’s been 10 games, but I still think you should be allowed to be pissed off when games like this happen.

The Celtics lost this game due to a variety of reasons but at least effort wasn’t one of them, so I guess that’s good to see. The problem is the fact that a loss like this in November could haunt you in April. That’s what keeps me up at night. The good news is, based on how this story usually goes, the Celtics will probably beat a team they weren’t expected to and things will all even out.

They battled to the final possession and came up one point short. It sucked, it ruled, then it sucked again. Here’s what we learned.

The Good

– I know I’ve played it in this space before, but ever since I saw this scene, it’s stuck with me

“Little killas like that…grow up to be…like the real killas”

“They think for all 82 games….got lucky”

When I think of the rise of Isaiah Thomas, that is exactly how I would describe it. He was always a talented scorer in SAC and PHX, but here in Boston is where his basketball game is growing up. Since the day he got to the Celtics (getting thrown out of his first game notwithstanding) he’s been a different player, and really the exact player they needed. Since the Big 3 departed, the Celtics have not had a go to player. We as a city and a fanbase longed for a guy who we could give the ball to at the end of the game and would not be to take the big shot. We also wanted that player to make the shot. Enter in Isaiah Thomas.

For me, there are certain criteria that you have to fit if you want to be the type of player Isaiah and myself believe he is. For the first time in his career, in Boston Isaiah got the keys to the car. It was his team. This is the first part of the criteria. How do you respond when the whole world knows you’re not only the #1 options, but often times, the only option. In his 21 games that first year he threw up 19/5 and we all saw the potential given the turnaround he sparked upon arrival.

Last year, things were supposed to be different. Now teams had Isaiah on tape and could make adjustments. He answered the hype by making the All Star team and being only one of like seven PGs to average 22 and 6. Now what about the next part of the criteria. Can he take and make big shots? We saw he can, whether it was against GS or Atlanta in the playoffs, Isaiah has proven that he is a big shot maker (which shouldn’t be a surprise since he was one in college). He’s so far backed up last year’s 22 and 6 with an even better 26.9 (2nd in the East) and 6.6 while shooting 46%. He’s currently doing something that not even Larry fucking Bird did during his tenure.

And the last and most important part of the criteria is what type of impact you’ve had on the franchise. Well, the Celtics were one of the worst NBA teams in the league when he got here, and are 74-49 since. That isn’t an accident.

So when we look at Isaiah’s 37 points last night, for me it was just another day at the office. Every once in a while when a performance is this good, I don’t want to interrupt it, so please reward yourself and have a moment alone

There is no denying it at this point, the success Isaiah has had as a member of the Boston Celtics is for real, and it needs to be treated as such. He isn’t the same player he was in SAC and PHX, he’s grown up into one of the best point guards in the entire league.

– What an effort from Marcus Smart. He played a team high 37 minutes and was the very definition of impactful minutes. By far his best game of the season, if I were you I would treasure the nights he goes 6-12 from the field and 3-6 from deep. Throw in six rebounds, three assists and four steals, and you can see what I mean when I saw he was everywhere. If you remember correctly Brad said this summer that Smart was essentially considered a 6th starter, and this is the reason why. When he is committed and plays within himself, he can change an entire game. When the Celts desperately needed some sign of life in an awful third quarter (more on this later), it was Marcus who stepped up with 10 big points. The way Avery owns the first quarter, that is what Marcus is turning into with the third. I’m not ready to declare him Mr. Third Quarter just yet, but know the paperwork has started.

Also don’t look now, but Marcus is a 35% three point shooter as of right this second. He’s made multiple threes in four of the seven games he’s played. Currently 18th in the NBA in 3p%, he’s shooting it at a better percentage than guys like Westbrook, Lowry, and Bledsoe. Here’s what’s scary that has me a little hot and bothered. So far this year, Marcus is shooting 47% on two point FGs, and if he is able to maintain these percentages throughout the season, I am ready to call his shooting fixed. If his shooting is fixed, when you add it into everything else he provides, you have yourself a damn fine player.

– What is Avery Bradley eating because he is turning into an absolute monster. Another 19/10, his fourth double digit rebounding effort of the month, and fifth of the season, this is starting to get ridiculous. Every possession there he is, leaping and grabbing defensive rebounds, taking one of the biggest Celtics weaknesses into his own hands. I suppose when your SG is your best rebounder that isn’t the greatest sign but dear lord is this impressive. At five double doubles already, he barely missed out on two more, so I would think it’s fair to say he is having a career year. A lot of people were so quick to trade Avery yesterday on Twitter, maybe we should take a step back and realize that this guy is just 25 years old and is starting to truly blossom.

– Hey you live by the three you die by the three, and early, it’s what kept them in the game (7-15). Three players had 3 makes, and while they fell in love with it, it was a huge weapon early.

– After not really playing against IND, Jaylen Brown had a nice bounce back effor tin his 17 minutes. I’ll take 8/4 on 3-5 shooting, especially when those four rebounds all came on the offensive side. What stood out to me was something I’ve slowly started to fall in love with ever since he started playing this summer. I am in love with his decision making, especially at this stage. Here is a prime example

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Think of when this play happened. After NO went on a run to go up 10 to finish the third, Terry Rozier had just hit a three to start the fourth. Jaylen clearly had the wide open corner three, which is by far the easiest to make, and instead he didn’t panic with a man running at him, gave a good fake, and then didn’t stop until he got to the rim. Do I wish me made the layup? Sure, but it’s the mindset that I care more about.

– I see you Jordan Mickey somewhat doing a good job defending Anthony Davis and grabbing four rebounds in 9:23 of floor time.

– It was interesting that in a game where the Celtics had no interest in being aggressive on offense and getting to the line, they were able to get into the bonus very early in that fourth quarter, which is what enabled them to come all the way back and tie it at 105.

– Despite the awful, horrific, embarrassing loss, it was good to see this team continue to battle. Things could have easily gone the way of Washington/Denver but they didn’t. The Celts clawed back.

The Bad

– OK but really, this was some fucking bullshit. Sure guys like Isaiah played great, but holy shit was there a lot of bad in this one. How about Amir Johnson airballing a three, and then nobody running back resulting in an easy fastbreak score? Or when they gave up 27 points in an opening quarter to a 1-9 team, that was fun.

But nothing, nothing was more frustrating than this sequence

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I am not sure how much more of this I can take.

– The Celtics scored 26 points and shot 46% in the first quarter. Not a bad start, actually pretty good. In reality, it was good enough to trigger the other side of the Theory. A bad first will equal a good third and a good first equals a bad third, almost always.

The Celtics shot 32% in the third quarter and gave up 28 points. The Theory is not to be doubted. After a little two game hiccup, we’ve not hit in back to back games.

– Here’s a trend. When the Celtics play these bad teams and lose, it’s because they give up a ridiculous night to an unexpected player. In this game, that player was Langston Galloway. Allowing this man to go for 21 points on 8-14 (3-5) shooting is no bueno. This was his best game of the entire season, no joke. He hadn’t scored 21 points or shot 57% from the field even one time all year. That’s what makes losses like this so annoying. Can’t let role players have their best game of the season against you.

And really it was the entire second unit. What an advantage for NO with a bunch of guys we all joke are D League players. What does that say about our bench? They had four players with at least 8 points, the Celtics had one.

– Brutal that a few times in that third quarter the Celts were able to cut it down to two, only to see NO go on a run and push it back up to double digits. They just couldn’t make a play to get over the hump.

– They only missed three, but that missed Isaiah FT hurt. Shit like this is why missed FTs keep me up at night.

– Hey, if you’re gonna flop, do it right

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The Ugly

– I counted at least twice the Pelicans got an offensive rebound off a missed FT and scored. I don’t even know what to say to that.

– The Celtics blew this game, we all know that, but the root of the problem for me was mental errors. Marcus Smart forcing that inbounds pass was a prime example. Tim Frazier is WAITING FOR THAT EXACT PASS. Telegraphed like you read about. Given the time, and the situation, you can’t pass the ball to the other team. Strange I know, but it’s not ideal.

And wouldn’t you know it, but that wasn’t even the worst one! Poor Kelly Olynyk, he never stood a chance. Once Frazier got this ball in transition, the Celtics defense was all fucked up and Olynyk found himself on an island with a much quicker player. As he will do 101% of the time, Kelly kell for the most OBVIOUS PUMP FAKE IN THE HISTORY OF THE PUMP FAKE, and the foul cost them the game. Two mental errors at critical stages is no way to play if you want to win in the NBA, doesn’t matter who it is. Hate to see that.

– Interesting on one end the officials aren’t afraid to make the right call when it’s a clear foul and the game is on the line, and then this happens and they are too afraid to impact the game? That’s a foul.

So yeah, this loss was really really bad. Not the best look, but I advise you to look at things with a little perspective. Going 5-5 with the issues we’ve had isn’t the best, but it’s not terrible either. They have some good wins so far, and a few bad losses that you figure don’t happen with a healthy lineup. Don’t be surprised if they get back on track against Dallas on Wednesday, and then we have Golden State which history has shown should be a pretty good contest. There’s no real way to sugarcoat a losss to a 1-9 team, one that you absolutely need to beat if you even want to be considered a competitive team. The good news is it’s over and tomorrow they get another chance to correct the ship. This is part of deal rooting for this team, so I suggest you get used to it.

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