When OT ended, I’ll admit, I was on another planet. So drunk off Celtics Kool Aid it would make your head spin. As I’m sure you all were as well. Isaiah thinks this was the biggest win of the season, and I have to agree with him. All season the Celts have been searching for that signature win, and this more than qualifies. Not only was MEM 18-11, but they are also one of, if not THE best defensive team in the entire NBA. They had all their guys (minus Parsons who hasn’t played all year), and proved to be every bit the test we expected them to be. What changed is this Celtics team gave us the type of effort and performance that last year’s team showed in spades. A full team effort, you don’t see teams come back from down 17 on the road to this quality of team, especially given how everyone was shooting the ball. The thing is, the Celtics have something that no other team does, and that’s Isaiah Thomas.
What Isaiah did in this game was historic no matter what way you look at it, and believe me we’ll get to it. In looking at the bigger picture, the way the rest of this month is shaping out, this was definitely a game you could say the Celtics stole when you look at their schedule. A win in IND gives them a perfect 3-0 road trip which is important with teams like OKC/CLE/MEM all on deck.
But I won’t waste anymore of your time. Let’s have some fucking fun shall we?
– Hmm I wonder where to start. How about with the best offensive performance a Celtics guard has had since 1988? Maybe we should start with an effort that included 40+ points, 7 threes, and 17 FTs (most in Celtics history w/o a miss) which is something that only ONE other person in NBA history has done, and that was Kobe when he dropped 81. Probably should start with the only Celtics player to have 44 in a game since Paul Pierce did it in 2006. Ok fine you pulled my arm, we’ll start with Isaiah. First here’s what he had to say about his night
Now personally I find it wild that as the entire basketball world realizes and appreciates how special Isaiah is, I found myself deep in the trenches fighting the good fight. Can you believe that on THIS night of all nights, there are people out there who STILL want to doubt Isaiah, STILL think he’s a 6th man, STILL think he can’t be part of a title team here. It’s the very definition of bananaland. Listen, idiots, it’s over and you lost. My favorite part of this whole ordeal was at first it was “Isaiah can’t close” and “The Celtics can’t beat good teams”. Then Isaiah goes out and continues his SEASON LONG fourth quarter dominance, and the Celts DO beat a good team on the road, and now it’s “Well whatever…it’s only one game and Isaiah is 5’9 so w/e”. When I say this has become high comedy, I mean it. The haters are shook, with all signs pointing to how terribly wrong they are, they don’t know how to act and are having a hard time coming to grips with reality. This was not a one time thing. Isaiah has been doing shit like this since the second he stepped on the floor as a member of the Boston Celtics, and if you can’t realize that then you are straight up in denial. If any of the other elite PGs in the NBA, shit any other elite player for that matter, has the type of performance Isaiah just had, not one person says that person isn’t a star. Or that their team is better without that player. It’s simply ridiculous.
OK so you know the drill, performances like this get provided without interruption, so let’s all have a look before we break it down
A big part of why Isaiah as able to be so effective had a lot to do with how Memphis chose to guard the Isaiah/Horford P&R. For some reason, no matter who the big was whether it was Gasol or Randolph, they repeatedly sagged off Isaiah on the switch. That may be the dumbest thing you can do while trying to defend Isaiah. Not only did it free up space for him to knock down a jumper, but it also created enough space for him to get enough momentum to take it to the rim and get to the line. Even on most of his seven three point makes, the Grizzlies sagged off way to much as if he hadn’t been making absolutely everything down the stretch. But Isaiah’s performance was more than just the points. His 6 assists and 1 turnover are pretty par for the course, and show that guess what, perhaps the offense doesn’t stall when he has the ball in his hands.
As impressive as he was on the offensive end, Isaiah was just as good on the other. For about 90% of that game he played great defense on Mike Conley. What if I told you that Isaiah had the lowest defensive rating of any starter last night? Not to mention he made multiple big defensive plays in transition, this was by far one of the most complete games I’ve seen Isaiah play.
Oh..and I guess this is pretty good too
– As bad as the offense was for the first 24 minutes, that’s how great it was in the second half. The Celts had an insane like 140 offensive rating in 4th quarter, and just as good in OT. You knew this team wouldn’t shoot 24% forever, and when their offense improved, what impressed me was it did not come at the expense of their defense. With MEM two bigs in Gasol and Randolph, I was very impressed with how well the Celtics bigs played individual defense. Very rarely did Brad have to double which was great because guys like Horford and Amir held their ground. It reminded me of the good old days when Perk would completely eliminate a big defensively and the Celts would never have to double to help.
– I don’t want to say I nailed it…but I nailed it #Theory
– Lost in the dominance that was Isaiah Thomas, was Al Horford coming up HUGE down the stretch on both ends. Sure maybe he missed that layup with 0.9 seconds in regulation, but the way he protected the rim, and his buckets down the stretch in OT (which included a game clinching layup) was a big part of why the Celts pulled it out. His 17 points and 14 rebounds were certainly welcomed with open arms and believe it or not, he actually led the Celts in shot attempts and played the most of any starter. This is now the third game Horford has come up big in crunch time, which helps me swallow the two he’s previously fucked up.
– Maybe the most unsung hero of this game though, was Avery. The defense he played on Conley after his little mini run late in the fourth quarter is a big reason why he was essentially a non factor in the overtime period. That was perhaps the best defense Avery has played all season, and it was nice to see him still have crazy impact despite only taking 8 shots.
– For those of us who are big fans of Brad Steven’s ATOs, last night was a real treat. I thought Brad was good about taking timeouts to either stop a run or when he noticed the Celts offense was in a funk. Quick TO, draw up a play, score. He did wait a little long to put Isaiah/Horford back in when the Celts couldn’t buy a basket, but I’ll let that slide since they were both obviously fresh when it mattered most.
– Do people maybe NOW realize that this team is entirely different when it’s healthy? That when they have their full group they can compete with just about anybody. It’s no secret that every part of their game is better, and this is why it was so frustrating when they were dropping games to good teams, but didn’t have a full roster. People demanded trades because THAT’s who they thought the Celtics were. It’s so weird. Now as I said in my blog the other day, this group still needs more time to play together for us to truly know who they are, but absolutely every sign we’ve seen from them so far this season says they are pretty fucking good.
– I dunno man, Jae Crowder has to kick this habit of trying to draw fouls while shooting threes. It’s just not a thing that’s going to happen for him.
– Maybe my biggest fear going in rang true, and it almost cost them the game. That was an absolutely BRUTAL defensive rebounding performance. MEM got whatever they wanted on the glass, and it didn’t just come from their bigs, it was really everyone. Nothing kills a team then making a good defensive stop only to give up an easy offensive rebound, and the Celtics couldn’t do that enough. A 52-41 rebounding advantage and a 23-5 second chance point advantage for the Grizzlies probably isn’t something the Celtics should allow to happen again.
– One adjustment I think the Celts made a that I wish they went with sooner, was not sagging so far off Gasol. Horford allowed him to catch the ball right in his sweet spot too many times, and I don’t know if he was expecting Gasol to put the ball on the floor or what, but newsflash, he can make a jumper/three when it’s wide open. I would have liked whoever was guarding him to be a little closer once he caught the ball.
– With about 6:40 left in the third quarter Kelly Olynyk missed a layup, then had an awful open court turnover that resulted in a three. Pretty weird night for Kelly, but he had a couple brutal stretches.
– That really goes for the entire second unit. Not great. I hated the way Rozier finished that 3rd quarter, it was the “out of control” Terry that nobody wants. Smart didn’t really provide too much (minus one huge steal late), and guys like Jerebko and Green really didn’t give much. The Celtics are lucky the starters snapped out of their funk, because they gave almost nothing.
– I suppose we should put the first half shooting in this section, but I’m not sure bad really is enough. The Celts shooting in the 20%’s is nothing new, we’ve seen it over the years, but it was almost as if they turned on a switch and decided not to run an offense. Everything was isolation, or threes, two things that usually come back to haunt them.
– Motherfucking Troy Daniels man. A guy averaging 9 points per game comes at you and drops 24 points on 8-13 shooting (4-7) to win the Shitty Player Who Is Shitty But Plays The Celtics So He Isn’t Shitty Award. Man am I getting tired of that fucking thing.
– To go along those lines, the Celtics scored 5 points in 12 minutes of basketball. I’d say that’s less than ideal. It included a 1-15 performance from deep in the first half and really it was so ugly I don’t even want to talk about it anymore
– Not sure why in a game where the Celts seemed to have trouble rebounding, they didn’t play two of their bigs (one I don’t care about obv). Give Jordan Mickey a chance will ya!
So yeah, last night was a chance for everyone on Team Isaiah to give a big FUCK YOU to everyone who tries and discredit the type of player he is. He’s a star and for the 1000000000000th time he showed us why. The Celtics needed a win like this, not only for their record but for their psyche. Now winners of three straight, they seem to have found their swagger that we all desperately wanted them to find, and I could not be happier.
16 down 36 to go.