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Everything Came Up Ainge Last Night And It Was Awesome To Watch

New York Knicks v Boston Celtics

After what felt like days, weeks, months, even years to some, the Celtics finally got back on the basketball court last night and boy was it something. I suppose I should also mention it was against the Knicks, who aren’t exactly a team comprised of “good” basketball players. They have the Unicorn, but even without Marcus Smart in the lineup to contain him, he had a night he’ll probably want to forget.

But this isn’t about the Knicks, it’s about Danny Ainge and how fucking good he looks when he woke up, cleaned the dried KoolAid off his lips and looked himself in the mirror this morning. While you can’t form concrete conclusions based on four games, you can evaluate based on what you’ve seen thus far, and when you do that the questionable draft picks of Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum look fantastic. If you ignore the fact that almost every NBA player looks 15-20% better whenever they play the Knicks, even his offseason signings of Baynes and Theis looked great last night. You may not always agree with his decisions, but this is why you have to just blindly trust him. The man knows what he’s doing.

Alright, I want to warn you, this blog is going to be NSFW. There is Celtics porn, and then there is what we’re about to go through, so if you’re like me and you’re at work, go to the bathroom stall, go to an empty meeting room, close your office door, do whatever you have to do because I am not responsible for what happens to your professional career when your boss walks by and sees Jaylen Brown on the break. That’s on you.

The Good

– I have a feeling this is going to happen a lot over the next decade or so, but we had tough competition for the top spot to lead us off. After much deliberation, I went with the birthday boy Jaylen, who finished with 23/4 on 9-16 shooting. It didn’t take long for me to realize I love 21 year old Jaylen even more than I loved 20 year old Jaylen. So let’s sit back and watch how the man did.

How Jaylen would respond to the pressure he was going to have to deal with this season was a BIG question heading into the year. Well, through four games, who’s complaining about 18.8/5.8 with over 1 steal a game and 47.6/36.4% splits with 2 made threes a night? That’s 2016-17 Avery Bradley territory folks. Here’s something also pretty dominant, Jaylen is shooting 57% from the right corner, 75% on midrange jumpers, and 62% in the restricted area. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what taking a leap looks like, and I for one could not be more excited.

But it’s more than just his offense that was impressive last night. Jaylen had a Drtg of 85.3 and he was all over the place. Yes, there is a giant difference from trying to defend Lebron/Giannis to Tim Hardaway Jr, but I’m not here to nitpick.

– One of Ainge’s most controversial moves was trading that #1 pick. Everyone, myself included, was all in on the Fultz hype. Well, last night was another reminder that we are dumb and Danny is smart. This was the breakout performance I was waiting for from Tatum, and I’m glad it came at home. His 22/4/2/4/2 on 9-15 (4-6 from deep) was like a glimpse into the future.

14.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.3 blocks, 47.6% FG, 45.5% 3PT. Those are Tatum’s numbers so far this season. Look at those percentages! We knew he was offensively gifted, so it’s not that much of a surprise, but when you then look at his defense, my word. Four steals and two blocks last night, at least to me the fact that he is THIS ready defensively is not what I was expecting. We saw him struggle at times to defend in the Summer League, so the fact that he’s not a complete liability now that the games matter is the cherry on top.

What stands out to me is how comfortable Tatum looks out there. For a kid 19 years old, he plays like he’s a 10 year vet. That’s not to say he doesn’t make mistakes, but you can just tell when you watch rookies who feels comfortable and who doesn’t. For example, Ben Simmons, extremely comfortable. Tatum gives off that same sort of vibe.

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– How rare was this performance from these two building blocks? Well, they did something last night that had never been done in Celtics HISTORY. They are the first duo ever to score 20+ PTS at 21 yrs old or younger in the same game. Not bad!

– So far this season, the Celtics ball movement I would say has been average at best. They rank 14th in the NBA in assists per game at 22.2, and to me that’s a big part about why the offense has looked like crap at times. Remember, this team was 2nd in the NBA in assists per game last year. Well, with more practice time under their belt, the ball moved like the Celtics of old. A total of 24 assists on 37 baskets (64%), it’s no surprise they looked so much better on the offensive end.

Now granted, almost everyone that plays the Knicks has a high assist%, but with four players having at least 4 assists, and this was a game without Marcus Smart, how could you not love that.

– I can’t believe I STILL see it on Twitter and hear it on the radio, but people honestly don’t understand why Al Horford is worth the money? A 13/11/5 night on 5-8 shooting (2-4 from deep) isn’t enough? Look at some of these passes!

In fact, whenever I see Horford with the ball in the post, I immediately get up and sprint across my living room. When he has the ball, you cut, cut again, and then cut some more. He’ll find you.

To be honest, this was probably the most comfortable we’ve seen Al play so far this season, which is encouraging.

– While his shot continues to be a bit of a disaster, I thought Kyrie played pretty well. He continues to show his dedication to being a more willing passer (7 assists), and I loved how he finally got to the FT line. So far this year his FTr (free throw rate) is drastically down, and that’s annoying because Kyrie is at his best when he attacks the basket.

Here’s the good news. His misses at the rim and in the paint should all slowly come back to a normal percentage. That’s the one thing we KNOW he can do, he just hasn’t done it yet. So, when you factor that in, the fact that he still had 20 points makes me a little less nervous. A lot is said that he “just needs to get used to the system”, and you know what, I can’t stand that take. Everybody wants to say it, but they then don’t go on to say what about Brad’s system is giving him trouble. His problem isn’t the system, it’s just as simple as so far this year, he hasn’t made shots he’s made his entire career no matter what “system” he’s played in.

I would argue that Kyrie is actually picking up Brad’s system pretty well. I’ve had no problem with his spacing, or his ball movement, or like I said before, his willingness to move the ball. At some point though we all need to stop making excuses for him when it comes to scoring the ball because he hasn’t faced a good backcourt yet and is shooting like dogshit.

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– Another game, another close rebounding battle. This time 43-41 in favor of NY, but I’ll take that every day of the week. Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of the year has to be how well this team has rebounded the basketball. The Celtics are currently 7th in the NBA in total rebounds per game at 55. Last year? They were 26th with 49.5.

– How about Terry Rozier huh? Breakout year like you fucking read about. In his 30 minutes last night, he poured in 8/6/6 with 2 steals and just 1 TO. That is exactly what I want from Rozier in his new role this year. Summer League Terry is becoming who he is on a regular basis, and I cannot stress how huge that is not only for the second unit, but for this team as a whole.

– Daniel Theis coming out of nowhere for a little 11/5 action with a three and a couple blocks. He feels like a guy that the Spurs always find, some Euro guy that nobody really heard of who looks legit as hell. Well, this time Danny found him, and thank the lord he did

– It took Brad long enough, but he finally unleashed Yabu at the end of this game and he immediately paid dividends with a made jumper and two made FTs. Also, this is a real fact

– Finally, we got our first GINO of the year. It looked dicey if they would actually play it, so I’m going to need Brad to understand when to take the GINO timeout like Doc was so good with.

The Bad

– I’m really stretching here because there wasn’t too much to choose from, so I’ll go with this. After building their big lead in the first half, the defense in the second was a little too relaxed for my liking. The Celts lost both the 3rd and 4th quarters, and as a team the Knicks shot 50% for the half. It obviously didn’t matter, but I bet Brad talks about it today. Against a lot of other teams in the league, letting off the gas like that defensively is going to get your ass beat. It’s not as if the Celts never blow double digit leads or anything.

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– 2 minutes is too low for Yabu in a game you’re up by a billion. IMO he should have played like 75% of that fourth quarter.

– Tommy, his name is Jaylen Brown. Not Jalen Rose. Normally I’d let this slide, but on the kid’s birthday you gotta get his name right.

– To be honest, we don’t really know what this team is yet. The one game they had as a measuring stick, Hayward’s season ended. The MIL loss was bad, but understandable, and since then we’ve played two teams that probably won’t make the playoffs. There are some teams around the league where even though we’re just 4 games in, you can give them an identity. We can’t do that yet with this team, and that’s annoying. I am impatient.

The Ugly

– For the first time this season I’m giving this section a pass. Beating PHI/NY back to back and in the fashion they did has me in a good mood. Don’t take it for granted.

Looking ahead, things are about to get a whole lot more difficult. We have MIL tomorrow, then SA, then OKC. You want to know what this team is and what it’s made of, well, those games should give us a pretty good idea. In the meantime, enjoy what was a beautiful display of basketball last night, and say it with me

2 down, 52 to go.