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The Celtics Had A Defense Problem And The Only Prescription Was Playing The New York Knicks

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As I sit here to write this I am conflicted. I feel for my internet friend Clem and the torture that the Knicks cause him, but at the same time it brings me extreme joy to watch them crash and burn. I’m also happy because it’s no secret the Celtics defense over the last few weeks has been a “struggle”, and sometimes you need to play a stinky team in order to right the shit. Kind of like that CHI game a few weeks ago when they shot like 8-50 to start the game. Even though it’s against poor competition, just actually having tape of what defense looks like can be the difference. And don’t let the 94 points from the Knicks fool you, the Celts called off the dogs early in that fourth quarter.

A wire to wire win from your first place team, the Celtics were able to do this weekend what they could not do a few weeks prior heading into at the time a big game against WSH. They didn’t have a bad loss to a bad team. The squeaked by Orlando which was kind of like how they squeaked by BKN, and this time they blew the shit out of the Knicks instead of having another loss like PHI on their hands. I can’t stress enough how important the #1 seed is for this team, not because it has ANYTHING to do with CLE, but the fact that WSH is falling and is currently a game behind TOR in the four spot. Those two teams are trending in opposite directions, and you won’t find many who will prefer TOR, including me.

But we can worry about that stuff in the next few weeks, for now, join me in laughing at what a joke the New York Knicks truly are (again sorry Clem).

The Good

– Believe it or not, selecting a starting point for today’s blog wasn’t exactly easy. So many players on the roster had good performances, things were extremely balanced, so while that’s good for the team, it’s bad for me. After much thought, I say we start with a guy who will 100% be in this spot on a consistent basis for the next 10+ years. You know who I’m talking about. Jaylen, do your thing. Enjoy.

A VERY weird game for Jaylen. Go from being pulled like 15 seconds into the game, to it’s top performer? Talk about mental strength. At the end of the day his 16 points on 5-6 shooting (2-3 from deep) warrants the top spot. The two man game between Jaylen and Marcus legit made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. Marcus’ ability to work his way into the paint and be more Marcus The Creator than Marcus The I’m Going To Miss A Million Shots and find a cutting Jaylen is everything I want from these two when they are on the court. Great awareness to make the pass, great awareness to make the cut. I shouldn’t have to, but I’ll say this has like 85% to do with the Knicks being beyond pathetic on defense, but it’s that type of mentality that is going to be important in a few weeks once the games mean something.

I also want to touch on Jaylen’s shooting for a second because if he is going to be effective in the playoffs, he needs to continue to go to spots where he succeeds. You saw it in the clip above, the guy has become a legit shooter from the corners. With players like Smart and Isaiah who thrive in the drive and kick offense, this is important. Here is a visual that helps explain what I mean

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He is WELL above league average from either corner. We should all admit it, we were wrong about how Jaylen would shoot at the NBA level. We all knew he was athletic, could attack the rim and had a high basketball IQ, but none of us saw a season in which he would have 46/34% season splits coming. To say I am pleasantly surprised would be a gigantic understatement. This kid is going to be a stud once he starts getting consistent minutes.

– When a team like the Knicks is basically waiving the white flag on the defensive end from the start of the game, it was nice to see the Celtics actually take advantage. They shot 55% as a team for the game, and that was with no starter playing more than 27 minutes. Isaiah went 6-11, Horford 6-9, Jaylen 5-6, Amir 4-5, and poor Jae ended up with the worst night at 2-7. There is something about MSG that ignites something in this team, and really it’s been that way for a long time

Nothing better than walking into that overrated arena and completely dominating. It will never, ever, ever get old.

– With the starters getting rest, yesterday was a big opportunity to get the second unit some run and get some reps in as things start to get a little more important down the stretch. A unit that has had its ups and downs throughout the year, much like the starters the bench was fantastic. A total of 42 points, the Celts had three players in double figures (Marcus, Kelly, and Terry) and they did it shooting a combined 15-24. Why is that important? Because no players on the roster have shot the ball as poor as Marcus and Terry have during the month of March. Something horrific like 26% or some shit.

– I am a simple man. You show me good ball movement and I will love you. The Celtics are one of the best teams in the league in moving the ball, trailing only GS in assists and it’s plays like this that get the Kool Aid floating to my naughty regions

The reason I get so frustrated when I see the offense stall and everyone stands around and they settle for long two’s is because I know what they are capable of. I know that’s not how they normally play. That clip you just saw is who this team is, and it’s no surprise they usually play well when they move the ball. Sometimes basketball is a simple game when you play it the right way.

– RIP Porzingod.

OK not really, but what on earth got into Horford? Guy was dunking with aggression I didn’t know he had. A great mix of some turnaround jumpers, monster dunks, a three, and another solid effort on the glass. More importantly, after a five TO game against ORL, Horford was much better at protecting the ball in this game, ending with just one.

– Feels weird to go so long without mentioning him, but another solid performance from Isaiah. 19/6 with 1 TO doesn’t seem all that impressive especially for a player like Isaiah, but he played just 23 minutes. The Knicks going under screens on Isaiah was an odd strategy (he made four), and that’s how you knew they reallllllly want to pick in the lottery.

So instead I want to focus on something with Isaiah that I’m sure not many will talk about. How about Isaiah supporting his teammates? We had to endure what seemed like weeks of talk about how he throws his teammates and coaches under the bus, isn’t supportive and only cares about his scoring streaks. So silly. Does this look like a guy who doesn’t root for his teammates?

And don’t think for a second he doesn’t hear all the blazing hot takes about this issue. Trolling the trolls, absolutely love it!

– One thing that annoys the fuck out of all of us is how frequently this team plays down to their competition. On numerous occasions they have been known to look past a game against a shitty team with a GIGANTIC game on deck. As a result their effort isn’t there, and things usually are a grind. Well, in a game in which they won the rebounding battle (41-32), points in the paint (40-34), and did not give up a quarter in which the Knicks scored more than 24 points, I am happy to report that this was not the case. This looked like a team that is gearing up for the playoffs and understands that every one of these last games is important, no matter how shitty the opponent. I truly think that ORL game was a wakeup call.

– Angry Brad showing up in a game that was never in doubt is why I love Brad Stevens. The guy is not going to tolerate poor play at any point. Pulling Jaylen because of a mental error, calling a timeout just 30 seconds into the second half, Brad gives no shits and I give him credit for nipping shit in the butt before it got out of hand.

– Who else is ready for a big momentum shifting playoff three from Amir Johnson? You know it’s coming, I know it’s coming, and none of us can explain how it makes any sense. Prepare your brains accordingly.

The Bad

– Sadly, things were not perfect. Should we be concerned with how frequently the Celtics are turning the ball over? Another 17 in this game, it feels like the Celtics are living in the 16-18 range on a consistent basis, and that is NOT how this team has played about 85% of the season. Having three quarters with at least four is not going to cut it, especially when you are actually playing teams that are good and really try on defense. Having that many against a Knicks team that was living real life #Mailtime was a bit troubling.

– I’ll say it, Isaiah needs to chill out. It’s clear that officials are going to give him a quick whistle, and 14 techs is too many. Whether or not they are warranted is another discussion, but this team is starting to bitch a little to much for my liking. Up a billion points both Thomas and Smart getting techs almost within two minutes of each other is doing this team no favors. Is it bullshit that guys like Lebron and Draymond get to throw temper tantrums and get nothing and Isaiah says one thing and gets a tech? Sure, but keeping a level head is something that has to happen for this team to have playoffs success. Things are not going to be called, plays won’t go their way, and they need to be able to show the mental strength to keep their mouth shut and keep playing. It’s easy for me to say behind a keyboard obviously, but that doesn’t make it not true.

– By far the worst FT shooting of the season, or at least that I can remember. 18-26 is not something I will ever be OK with. Not when the Celts are among the best FT shooting teams in the league.

– Jae’s elbow is nothing, Jae’s elbow is nothing, Jae’s elbow is nothing, Jae’s elbow is nothing, Jae’s elbow is nothing.

Please, be nothing.

The Ugly

– Is it possible to have an Ugly section in a game in which you once were up by 27 points? If anything, the fact that they only won by 16 I guess qualifies. Nobody hates blowing teams out more than your Boston Celtics. Maybe it’s the mentality of their coach? They don’t want to be too mean and really make things bad for their opponent? Was it because they played Tyler Zeller down the stretch? I’m not sure, all I know is they have something low like six or so wins by more than 17 points, and have had way more games in which they were up by 20+. Blowout averse like you rad about.

So here we are. All eyes are on Wednesday night against the second place Cavs. Last time they came to the TD Garden things didn’t work out so well for them. Some might say despite their struggles THIS will be the game they truly take seriously and will assert their place as the #1 seed. On a scale of 1-10 how shook do you think CLE fans are? I say no less than 6 right now. The Cavs will be coming off a B2B (but it’s against ORL) and the Celtics will be rested, so neither team should have any excuses. History tells us Lebron is probably going to go 2012 GM6, and it will be up to Isaiah & Co to match. CLE hasn’t stopped Isaiah yet this season (three straight 30 point games on 50% shooting), so buckle up.

In the meantime, say it with me….

50 down, 2 to go.

P.S.

I probably don’t have to, but for all the young stoolies who read this headline/blog you may not know where it comes from. Only one of the greatest old school SNL sketches of all time.

SNL – More Cowbell from Tobias Åkerlind on Vimeo.