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A Closer Look At How The Hell The Celtics Won Their 14th Straight Game

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics

OK, I promise you we’re going to have a lot a fun in the coming minutes, but I feel like it’s important to start this blog off with a little rational perspective. This win in no ways mean the Celtics are guaranteed a spot in the Finals. It in no way means the Celtics are better than the Warriors and would beat them in a 7 game series. It requires a little luck to beat a team like GS, and the Celtics did get a little lucky with how poor Klay and Steph shot the ball. That won’t happen often. So I think it’s important to understand that this win doesn’t mean Boston and Golden State are on the same level, but what it does show you is that this team, and this win streak, is not a fluke. It proved that this team can hang with ANY team in the NBA on any given night, that’s about it. It’s not even Thanksgiving, and SO much can change before the Spring, but that doesn’t mean this was meaningless either. These are the steps you have to take to get to where the Warriors currently are.

So for all the butt hurt GS fans out there who are now clinging to the “Yeah well you wouldn’t win a series so whatever!” takes, no shit. You’re still the best team in the league and will probably win the title. That’s true. But it’s also true that the Celtics are the only team in the league that consistently give GS problems.

Now, unbuckle those pants and let’s get fucking started.

The Good

– By now we all have heard about the tragedy that Jaylen Brown is currently dealing with. Obviously first and foremost mine and I imagine everyone with a brain, sends our condolences. I can’t imagine how he not only found the strength to even play in this game, but then also have the type of performance that he did. Remember, this kid is only 21 years old. But at the end of the day, his 22/7/2/2 was the reason the Celtics pulled this out, and around these parts we celebrate that shit

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A lot is said about mental toughness, and we saw a pretty good example of it here. Jaylen started this game 2-8, but his confidence never wavered. He played with an energy that was contagious, and one thing was clear right off the bat. Jaylen Brown was not afraid of the Warriors. When the Celtics needed a lift, I find it interesting that the guy who needed a personal lift was the one to give it to them.  That third quarter run was essentially all Jaylen, and performances like this give you a glimpse as to why we as Celtics fans are so goddamn giddy about this player.

But for me, it was more than his clutch offense that stood out. Jaylen continues to rise to the challenge on the defensive end as well. He had a Drtg of 85.9, which was slightly worse than Horford’s 85.8 for the lowest of any starter, and that’s impressive because he spent a whole lot of time guarding Kevin Durant. Speaking of that, look at this defense, look at it!!

Again, Jaylen is 21.

– Normally this is a spot for players, but we have to talk about Brad Stevens. Game after game he continues to show why he is considered one of the best coaches on the planet. He took some lineup risks sure, but the way he is getting the most out of these players on a consistent basis is some of the best coaching we’ve ever seen in Boston. Falling behind twice by 17 points and keeping your players engaged, and instilling the belief that they are still in this game is so important for a team filled with kids.

You can really see Brad’s impact when it comes to this team’s defense. Just watch how well they communicate, how smooth they are on switches and rotations, for me, that’s all Brad.

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Heading into this game we hear a lot about how yeah the Celtics defense had been good, but GS was a different beast. They were the ones who were going to put the Celtics in their place. Well, after a 28 point first quarter the Warriors didn’t get over 21 points in any of the remaining quarters. In the second half they had 39/33% splits and had 9 TOs. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone say this Celtics defense isn’t the best in the league, no matter who they are playing. The Warriors haven’t been held to under 90 points very often….except…you know…when they play Boston

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The one constant? Brad Stevens.

– You hear all the time that Al Horford isn’t worth the money because he never shows up in big moments against good teams, when the team really needs him. Well, how does 18/11 on 7-11 shooting, including one of the biggest baskets of the night sound? To me, that sounds like max player type stuff

If the Warriors have one weakness, it’s at center, so credit Brad and Al for being aggressive and making them pay for it. In no world is Zaza Pachulia going to be able to consistently stop Horford, and you saw one of the biggest reasons why. he doesn’t have the lateral quickness to stay in front once Al put the ball on the floor. That’s why I love this team’s lineup versatility so much given Horford’s skillset. Not many centers are going to be able to stay with him. That’s why we saw Brad go with the starting lineup he did. It takes the pressure off Al so he isn’t guarded by Draymond, and instead can eat Zaza alive, and he responded.

And he also happens to be the best defensive big man in the league, so maybe appreciate the guy a little more.

– If you told me that the Warriors would blow two 17 point leads, once of which included a 19-0 run by the Celtics, I wouldn’t believe you. That’s not supposed to be possible against a team with that kind of firepower, and I’m not even really sure it happened. Oh no it did happen, and I can prove it

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You wanna know the craziest part about that run? Kyrie was on the bench for all of it. How does that make sense? It doesn’t, but I urge you to not care and just go with it.

– Speaking of making no sense, stat wizard Sean Grande literally made my mouth drop

The NBA is weird sometimes, that’s all I can say

– When this team needed him, he was there. That’s the best way I can describe Kyrie’s night. For the most part he struggled, but when it came to the fourth quarter, he closed it out. What I loved about Kyrie’s fourth quarter was he didn’t settle, he was aggressive. A total of 11 points in the quarter, 7 of them came from the line which is what you want especially when nobody could hit a goddamn shot in this game. I think we all expected the Kyrie/Curry matchup to be a battle, but this was a little different

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The kiss of death anytime you play GS is turnovers, so I was pleased to see Kyrie only had 1 on the night. In fact, he currently has the LOWEST turnover% of his career at 8.9%. With a usage rate of 29.5%, this is outrageously impressive. Often times when players struggle from the field like Kyrie did, they force things and try to do to much. I like that Kyrie doesn’t do that, and instead continues to just give the game what it needs at that exact moment.

But please wear the mask, I was terrified for that entire quarter.

– I make a big deal about FTs, because to me, FTs are extremely important. Well, how about 33-38? You won’t hear me complain one bit about the FT shooting last night, and this is why I got so worked up when they missed like 15 FTs in their first few games.

It’s not often the Celtics will double up FTA against a team like GS, but that’s because they changed their offensive approach in the second half. Instead of being stubborn and continuing to jack up threes and long two’s, look at the difference

First Half:

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Second Half:

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In the first 24 minutes, nearly half of their FGA were from behind the arc. In the second half, just 13 of their 36 attempts came from long distance. The Warriors took only 8 FTs because nearly half of their shots (18 of 38) came from three. They didn’t attack the same way BOS did. Now sure some calls may have been iffy, but that was the case for both teams. Fact of the matter is the Celtics adjusted and were rewarded, something that happens literally in every NBA game.

– Marcus Smart’s performance in that fourth quarter was a major factor in why they were able to pull it out. It was Marcus that challenged the OREB to force it off Durant right before Kryie’s And1, and it was Marcus who had huge defensive rebounds down the stretch. We’re going to get to his offense in a minute, but once again you see why he is so important to this team. It makes no sense, but at the same time makes all the sense in the world.

This is a PG by the way

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– If you couldn’t tell this was going to be a classic Theory game, you my friends have not been paying attention.

– Another game, another win in the rebounding department, this time 52-47. It’s pretty simple, you rebound like this, and play the type of defense we just saw, you are going to beat every team you play it doesn’t matter how poorly you shoot. I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that their defense has help up like this through 16 games, or that the rebounding has. But this is me not giving a shit.

The Bad

– I mean honestly it’s getting to be impressive how poor at shooting this team is. 32/21% splits? It took this team 20 minutes to score 31 points. Whatever the pregame ritual was, they need to never repeat it because it infected everyone. Kyrie went 4-16, Jaylen 7-18, Morris 4-10, Tatum 2-5, and don’t even get me started on the bench.

Five players from the second unit saw the floor, and they made 2 FGs. Combined they went 2-19, and Marcus’ 0-7 and Terry’s 1-5 certainly didn’t help things. If you can explain how a team that is among the worst in the league in both FG% and points per game can also have the best record in the NBA and beat a team full of basketball aliens, all the power to you. I just keep thinking, imagine what this team will look like when they are an AVERAGE shooting team? Oh boy.

– It took about 10 seconds for Jayson Tatum to have his welcome to defending Kevin Durant moment

This was the first game Tatum really looked 19 years old, and I don’t blame him. He was a virtual non factor for much of the game, and he looked hesitant and lost at times. He finished with 12 points which was nice, and I don’t mind him getting a learning experience like this. He’ll learn that when you play super long ass teams like GS, you have to protect the ball better, and you have to try and not be hesitant. When GS defenders smell hesitant blood in the water, they pounce.

– Despite the win, I still hated how this offense looked. There was no ball movement, guys stood around, and they fell in love too much for long twos and threes when clearly their shots weren’t falling. It was almost as if they were trying to out Warriors the Warriors, only that didn’t happen.

– It’s Year 4, it’s maybe time to accept the fact that Marcus Smart’s shot selection isn’t going to get any better. He is what he is. I didn’t like how he clearly lost his mental composure when the officials didn’t give him a call on that Draymond drive, and he came right down and tried to play for the whistle on a bail out three that he didn’t get. It hit the backboard and led to an easy bucket for GS, basically was as good as a turnover. Not to mention the boneheaded play to hit the ball on Kyrie’s layup to end the first half, he was for sure frustrating.

– I love Semi for a lot of reasons, primarily his defense, but man is he trigger happy. I get if you’re open take the shot, but it’s starting to get a little Gerald Green-ish.

– Al Horford may have a turnover problem, even if last night wasn’t really his fault. The Celtics kept giving it to him in tough spots, where he could have been easily doubled, but 5 is still too many.

The Ugly

– I am looking forward to skipping this section for the rest of the year!

So how far can this streak go? I say we should be undefeated heading into the showdown with DET in a few weeks. While I have to stress, this was just one game in early November, it said a lot about what this team is, and what they can potentially become. Enjoy the shit talking on Twitter, you know I will, and say it with me

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14 down, 40 to go.