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The Celtics Lost To The Hawks In A Real Life Basketball Game. I Know, I Was Surprised Too

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics

I am very aware that it is my own deranged brain that has me annoyed with this most recent Celtics loss. Any rational person would be able to look at this game and not only realize that it means nothing, but also that the starters did not play one second of the fourth quarter and that it’s silly to get worked up about your end of the bench guys blowing a double digit fourth quarter lead. But here’s the thing, I care just as much about Game #1 as I do Game #35 or even Game #80. I can’t help it. When I sit and watch the Celtics play I don’t really care who is on the court, it annoys me when they play like assholes.

But since the game ended I’ve had time to calm down and look at the big picture. Thankfully I can report the world is not ending. Now had this loss messed with their playoff seeding that’s a different animal, but it didn’t so if I can eventually get to the point where it bothers me only a little bit, you should too. With that said, let’s talk about what we saw.

The Good

– If there’s one thing we can take away from this game and feel good about, it’s that Jayson Tatum is looking more and more playoff ready

I’ll take 19/4/2 on 8-12 shooting, who wouldn’t. Not only did he lead the team in FGA, he did it in just 29 minutes while also sitting the entire fourth quarter. Add in his 4 steals and 7 deflections, and Tatum really did his job on both ends yesterday which I also love.

It’s important that Tatum not only has a great deal of confidence heading into the playoffs, but also that he feels good using a wide variety of moves. Defenses are going to key in on him, so his ability to keep them on their toes defensively will be key to preventing any sort of offensive slump. We got a little bit of that yesterday, with his drives to the basket mixed with a little midrange mixed with a little production from deep. We have no idea how the 20 year old will handle the playoff pressure, but we haven’t seen him shy away from it at any point this season, so there is reason to be optimistic.

– I’d probably imagine Al Horford was pumped to play his former team, and that showed up on the court

A solid 16/7/4 from Al, he did a little bit of everything. He had the 2nd highest rebounding% on the team while also accounting for an assist% of 22.2%, and his overall net rating was the 4th best of anyone who played. You love how he helped space the floor by knocking down 2 of his 3 3PA, and what I love most is that he didn’t turn the ball over. This was about what I expected from Horford given how he tends to play against ATL, and he did this all in just 26 minutes which was the second fewest of any starter.

– I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I’m starting to think some inappropriate things about a potential frontcourt lineup of Monroe/Horford. Greg was again a beast in this game, finishing with 17/2/4 on 7-8 shooting

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I know the second unit will desperately need his scoring, but I also know that rotations shorten in the playoffs so maybe it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to play him next to Horford. That will help make up for his defensive issues while also giving them two bigs who can pass and score in a variety of ways. I still think Baynes starts, but don’t be surprised if we see those two paired up for long stretches in a series.

– Looking for a playoff sleeper? A guy who could come in and not blow your doors off but actually give you legit minutes without pooping his pants? It’s looking more and more like Brad trusts Semi to be that guy, and given the way he’s shooting the ball recently, I don’t think I would hate that

A lot was made about the fact that Semi couldn’t shoot. He spent a majority of the year struggling, but he was too good in college to not figure it out. Well, he’s now 9 for his last 16 from behind the arc dating back to the beginning of March. In addition to his improved outside shooting, you can see Semi is starting to get more comfortable with his opportunities. He’s attacking the paint with much more authority, and this time he is recognizing the defense and avoiding charges while also finishing. Given his defense ability, Semi is primed to be a guy who is going to give this team 10-15 minutes in a playoff series, and if he can consistently knock down his outside shot that would be HUGE.

– Just so everyone knows, the Celtics will have to cut a guy to keep Jabari Bird active for the playoff roster. Personally I think this is so fucking stupid. If he’s on your active roster you should be able to play him in the postseason, it shouldn’t matter if he is a two way player. The league has to figure that shit out. Watching Bird play these last few games, how could anyone not want this as part of the bench rotation

So who should they cut? I dunno what the hell is Abdel Nader doing? I know this would mean they would have to fully release him but again I ask where the issue is. You know when the game turned yesterday? When that dude came in. Jabari Bird has the size, the athleticism and the whole not being Nader thing going for him, and watching him move without the basketball like he does is exactly what gets the blood flowing to my private area.

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Even if he doesn’t make the playoff roster one thing I can say with certainty is he’ll definitely be on the full time roster next year as long as Ainge doesn’t trade him for an All NBA player.

– Look I’m a sucker for good ball movement so 33 assists on 42 baskets sure does rub me the right way. In looking at the 1st-3rd quarters where the normal guys actually played, they had 26 assists on 33 baskets. Now part of that success is because the Hawks are pathetic, but I won’t turn my nose up at unselfish basketball. That’s all I ever want for this team is for them to play this way.

– Listen I’m not saying he’s not a great player, but I don’t see Kawhi dunking like this

– If I could make one wish for the playoffs, it’s that this is the type of Terry Rozier we get. In control with a little bit of everything. He finished with 10/8/9 on 4-9 shooting and was a team high +9

See this team doesn’t need Terry to be Kyrie. They don’t need him to be averaging 20+ points, they just need him to be effective in his minutes. When you add in the fact that he had the lowest Drtg on the team at 93.8 and the highest overall net rating at +26.9, in my opinion this was one of Terry’s better games of the season and he did it all while scoring just 10 points.

Efficiency is going to be the name of the game for him moving forward, so as long as he feels he doesn’t need to force things offensively he can be really impactful.

The Bad

– As good as the Celtics starters were on defense, nobody, and I mean nobody had an answer for Taurean Prince. This was not the first time Prince came into the Garden and lit the Celts up, I believe he had 31 the last time they were there, and if you’re looking for a reason as to how the Hawks pulled this out, it’s because they were not smart enough to pull him from the game. This win hurt their lottery odds so you have to wonder what the hell the Hawks were thinking.

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– It’s tough to stomach, but the Hawks shot 50/43% while making 15 3PM and turning the ball over just 13 times. That’s not the most encouraging defensive effort I’ve ever seen.

– I don’t mean to focus on the negative, but some might say going 13-20 from the FT line and losing the game by 6 is annoying. I would tend to agree with those people who are saying that.

– Nothing brings Celtics Twitter together quite like our displeasure with watching Nader play basketball. It’s no coincidence Bird doubled his minutes, because the second he stepped on the floor everything went to shit. He finished with 2 TOs and 0 FGM while looking lost and awkward on both ends. It’s just not working out and I think everyone can see it now.

The Ugly

– Christ where to start. I suppose blowing that whole 13 point lead in the fourth quarter would make some sense. While I appreciate the Celtics for staying on brand and being allergic to blowing teams out, this was not exactly how I wanted to kick my lazy Sunday off. Let me just put in perspective how fucking terrible the end of bench guys were in those final 12 minutes

For starters, the Hawks shot 61/55%. Their 36 points were the most they scored in any quarter. Of the ATL players that played, just one missed more than 2 shots, and that person (Prince) went 3-6. On the flip side the Celts went a stellar 9-21 from the field and while it pains me to say, this was not the best showing from my man Shane Larkin. He played all 12 minutes but went 1-7 from the field and was a -12. Between the missed FTs and then the wide open missed layup, it simply wasn’t his night.

– I’ll say it again. When the Celtics are playing at home I need them to be in their home whites. I don’t care what their contract with Nike says, stop messing with this and just give the people what they want. Wear these alternates on the road, go nuts, but when you take the floor at the Garden you need to be wearing one of the most iconic jerseys in sports. Period.

So we now turn out attention to tomorrow night against WSH. Remember John Wall wants to make a statement this game so I’m excited to see what that statement is. With this being a potential playoff opponent I’m conflicted as to what I want Brad to do. Part of me says flex on these bitches and crush their confidence. The other part says just play your bench again so WSH has a false sense of confidence heading into a potential playoff series. Either way I’m going to try and do my best to not get worked up so much with these final two games, I just want the Celts to be playing well when it matters. So if that means the starters play well and then come out only to let the bench blow it all to hell, then so be it.

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