Right After Collapsing Against The Pelicans, The Celtics Had Their Worst Game Of The Year

Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics

It’s hard to sweep a team in the NBA, and after winning the first three against the Sixers, if there was ever going to be a game they could potentially drop, it was this one. It’s clear that playing without Kyrie Irving has shown to be not ideal, but I think it’s a cop out to say that’s the sole reason for this loss. To be honest, with the guys that did play, you should still be able to beat this Sixers team at home. I hope we can all agree with that.

Instead, we have the first consecutive loss stretch at the Garden of the season, and one thing we’ve learned so far this season is when the Celtics play poorly, they set the game of basketball back 50 years. I mean truly painful to watch stuff. We’d seen performances like this in the past, there was the CHA game where both Al and Kyrie got hurt, the CHI game, the BKN game, the list goes on and on. Last night’s loss was at times almost comical because it did not make sense how a team that was 34-11 could look so bad. While this was just 1 of 82 and the Celtics are still in a great spot, I don’t think we can ignore some of the trends we are seeing.

So while I’m happy for Sixers fans that they finally got to pound their chest about beating the Celtics for the first time and finally getting back to over .500 and into the 8 spot in the East by 0.5 games, I am not as happy with how this team has looked ever since the London break.

You may not want to, but we have to talk about it. Let’s get started

The Good

– It almost feels wrong to have this section given what we saw. I mean anything put in this part of the blog will be a stretch, but spinzone is what I’m here for. I take personal responsibility in helping you the reader find something to be positive about even when things are at their darkest. I’m no hero, I’m just mentally deranged. As a result, we’ll start with Marcus Smart

Does it really make sense that in a game in which the Celtics shot 40/24% and nobody could make a shot that Smart would go 6-11 for 13/5 and be one of two guys with a postive +/- with a +6? No not really, but when has Smart ever made sense?

Here’s what should encourage you about Smart’s night. He was aggressive, and by aggressive I don’t mean he shot a lot, what I mean is that he attacked the basket and lived in the paint. Of his 11 FGA, 7 of them came in the paint. Smart did a great job using his strength and size to bully his way into the paint and as a result for the most part was relatively successful. You would think that in this type of game they struggled because he tried to do too much to make up for not having Kyrie, but I thought when it came to his shot selection Smart didn’t really force things. Maybe he’s learning? Please?

– I’m going to put Horford into this section mostly because of how he started the game. He was the only Celtic starter with a pulse offensively in that first half

But as the game went on, I wish he was more involved. Having just 3 FGA in the second half seems like an odd strategy, as does not even attempting a shot in the third quarter. He did have a 76.1 defensive rating in this game, but that all seems lost when you look at the bigger picture.

– Tatum had a rough night which we are about to talk about, but I’m putting his highlights here because of two plays. First, the inside/out move on Robert Covington was absolutely filthy, and his block on Justin Anderson. Those were big time plays

– I’ll say this, on a night where nothing was working, at least the Celtics still fought. That final run in the fourth was a made three away from reaaaallly getting interesting, and they absolutely could have just folded and called it a night.


– This is a tribute video I think we can all get behind

– If there’s one guy who really looks like the rest has helped, it’s Marcus Morris. He was solid in his 27 minutes off the bench with 14/6 with 44/40% splits, and I don’t think I need to remind you how important a healthy Morris is going to be for this team as they head into the postseason.

– OK that’s it, I can’t make up any more good things about this disaster of a game I’m sorry.

The Bad

– Where to fucking start. I suppose we can begin with how this team looked offensively. One of the biggest things we’re noticing when Kyrie doesn’t play isn’t just the final point total is low, but things are becoming harder for their secondary and third option scorers.

I’m not sure if it’s because they are young or what, but every time Kyrie doesn’t play it seems like Jaylen and Tatum struggle. Part of this is defenses can now focus in on them more which is something to keep an eye on, but I also think part of it is just young guys trying to do a little too much to make up for things. Jaylen/Tatum combined to go 8-23 (2-10) and they looked out of wack.

With Jaylen, 7 3PA is a little much for him, and it felt as you watched him that his offensive approach drastically changed. To me it felt like he was trying to fill the Kyrie role while not just filling the Jaylen Brown role. He had just 4 FGA in the paint which seems like the wrong approach when nothing is falling from the outside. I kept getting the sense that Jaylen was settling, and when that happens nobody should be surprised the offense stalls.

With Tatum, the one thing he’s going to work on all summer is most likely going to be his ball handling on drives. Too often he’s either dribbling the ball too high, or he has trouble gathering in traffic. I also have a problem with his usage in the third quarter the same way I do with Horford’s. Taking just 2 FGA is not enough, plain and simple.


– As I said to start the blog, this issue is really more than the fact that the Celtics played without Kyrie, because guess what, the offense has been horrendous even with Kyrie in the lineup this month.

January has been the lowest scoring month of the season for the Celtics, with an average of 97.8 points a night. A team that has had scoring issues all year, this is 5 points below their season average. Their 41.8% from the floor is also the lowest of any month this season. Granted this is all in just a 6 game sample size, but a trend is a trend. When you look at the advanced side, their 95.9 Ortg is the lowest by about 7 points.

How does this compare to the rest of the league? Try dead last. Even with Kyrie playing in 5 of the 6 games this month, the Celtics have the worst offense in the NBA. If we were to stretch this out to the entire year, the Celts would have the 13th best rating, so about average. While this isn’t news, things have never been THIS bad, and that’s confusing to me because the Celtics have never been more rested, and never had as much practice time as they have had in January. It makes no sense.

– As I’ve said before, given their offensive struggle the key winning formula for the Celtics comes down defense and rebounding. Well let’s check in to see how that went yesterday. They lost the rebounding battle 41-31, and while they didn’t score a bunch of points, the Sixers finished with 46/35% splits, and the Celts clearly had no answer on the defensive end for Embiid. Poor offense, poor rebounding, and one quarter of really bad defense and this is what happens. Sometimes it’s pretty simple.

– We’re in the middle of a brrruuuuutal Terry Rozier Valley. I tried to warn you when he had that nice stretch that this was coming because it’s been his calling card his entire career. Look for yourself


Not great Bob! I don’t think I need to tell you how important he is to the offense of the second unit, which brings me to my next point.

– The Celtics are not only the worst second quarter team in the NBA, they may be the worst second quarter team of any orchestrated basketball team on the planet. I’m all for Danny being patient with the DPE until the deadline to truly find out what he needs, but it’s CLEAR AS FUCK that this team needs bench scoring. They can’t go into a playoff series where they play a competitive first quarter, the bench comes in and they score 13 points with 33/14% splits. A healthy Morris isn’t enough, Rozier and Smart are too streaky, it has to be addressed, period.

– Listen it doesn’t happen often, but for those who want to cry about Al Horford, last night was a night that fueled your fire. They needed him to step up and have a performance like the first three times they’ve played PHI, and he just didn’t have it. The aggressiveness criticism is warranted, and while he was solid in the first 24, he was basically a non factor in the final 24. That can’t happen, and for me it has nothing to do with how much money he makes. I don’t get why people care about that. I wasn’t surprised he missed that big time three in the fourth because he hadn’t shot the ball since the second quarter. On a night where they needed their best players to step up, they didn’t, and you have to include Horford in that.

– Baynes can do a lot of things that help this team, but guarding Embiid is not one of them. Embiid is too crafty, and it’s probably why Baynes played just 15 minutes.

– I don’t want to speculate, but it’s a little weird to me that the Celtics didn’t take a FT until like midway through the 3rd quarter. This wasn’t even one of those games where they did nothing but shoot threes like the NO game. They finished tied in FTA, but I have to say that was a bit strange.

The Ugly

– What the hell was going on with this team and turnovers. Watching all you could do was laugh because we haven’t seen the Celtics turn the ball over like this in a VERY long time. It was so bad even after a MAD BRAD timeout like 5 seconds into a possession, they immediately turned it over. 19 for the game, they had 9 (!!!!) alone in the second quarter. They made just 6 FGs.


It was honestly everybody to. Smart had 4, Horford had 3, Tatum 2, Morris 3 the list goes on and on. The Celtics average just 14 TOs a game and had that by halftime. How is that acceptable? I get Kyrie does a majority of the ball handling, but that doesn’t excuse how they played. I mean he’s had 11 TOs in his last two games as well. The Celtics are playing sloppy, careless basketball, and as a result like we see all the time they are losing to shitty teams because of it. That is what’s frustrating.

– I for one am shocked they came out so flat in that third quarter. That may happen only like 5 times all year, and last night was one of them. The lack of energy this team played with through 3.5 quarters was insulting.

– For the second time, the Celtics got down by 20+ against the Sixers. With Kyrie and now without Kyrie. I know this team loves to get behind by 17+ because they are weird like that, but listen this can’t be completely ignored when you look ahead and consider these two teams may play in the series. I’m not saying PHI would win that series, but there does seem to be a trend of getting down big against the Sixers.

The Celtics have one last home game against ORL (who just gave CLE everything they can handle) before heading out for a 4 game West Coast trip. Safe to say it’s a pretty important game with TOR being just 2.5 back. All year the Celtics have struggled against poor NBA teams, so I’d be lying if my concern hasn’t risen slightly, mostly because I don’t know how much more of this brand of basketball I can take. My best advice would be once you’ve finished this blog just forget about it all together, because it’s time to turn the page



But seriously, clean it the fuck up