1. It’s a stretch to say Brad Stevens was inspired by his crew’s protection, after they allowed the Pelicans to shoot 50% from the sector. However Stevens wasn’t discouraged both. In earlier video games, Stevens centered on the Celtics lack of effort, particularly when it got here to closeouts and contesting pictures.
New Orleans really shot higher on contested pictures on this sport than they did uncontested pictures. That’s propped up some by Zion Williamson’s ending inside, nevertheless it’s additionally instructive that Boston’s effort stage was good. When the opposite crew makes troublesome pictures, there isn’t so much you are able to do about it.
In a standard sport, that type of effort stage will repay. And most groups don’t have a monster finisher on the rim like Williamson is. So, regardless of the uncooked numbers being unhealthy, it’s straightforward to see why Stevens wasn’t utterly down within the dumps concerning the protection.
2. Jayson Tatum was wonderful early, as he scored 16 factors within the sport’s first 9 minutes. Tatum was additionally excellent within the fourth quarter, when he dropped in 14 factors. In the course of the sport, Tatum went lacking to some extent. The Celtics seemed for his or her offensive chief to hold them, and he did for stretches. It’s these considerably maddening minutes the place he disappeared that change into irritating. That’s when Boston fell behind and was in scramble mode to catch up.
Tatum both wants extra from his teammates, or he has to step up and do it himself. Ideally, will probably be the primary, particularly when Jaylen Brown can play. On the nights when it’s the latter, Tatum needs to be unselfishly egocentric for the nice of the crew.
3. Luke Kornet performed a second sturdy sport off the bench. He appears to have that Daniel Theis-like sense of when to pop and when to roll. Right here’s Kornet working pick-and-pop with Marcus Sensible:
Later within the half, Kornet was in a position to work as a curler with Kemba Walker to get an and-1:
Within the second half, Kornet confirmed he can do some passing out of pick-and-roll performs too. This isn’t a simple cross to make, however he finds Aaron Nesmith for the nook three off the slip:
4. It’s not honest to put blame on solely a few gamers for this loss, however should you go that course, Marcus Sensible and Evan Fournier stand out. Let’s begin with Sensible. What on the planet was this?
It was the Pelicans ball earlier than this soar. Brandon Ingram didn’t even soar as a result of had he received the tip, it could have been a shot-clock violation. Sensible simply misplaced monitor of scenario right here massive time.
That play in and of itself is not any massive deal. It occurs to ever participant sooner or later. Effectively…perhaps not that actual play, however you get it.
What was an enormous deal? Sensible went right into a funk after that play. He tried to make up for it and bricked a 3 on the following journey. Then instantly received crushed backdoor by Brandon Ingram for a dunk. And to prime it off, Sensible received ejected from the sport with 24.7 seconds to play.
Sensible is the Celtics coronary heart and soul. That’s simple. Typically he must be higher about being a part of the mind too.
5. As for Evan Fournier…sheesh. 0-for-10 is the worst a participant has ever shot the ball in a debut sport with a brand new crew. The excellent news? It could solely get higher from right here! And the guess is that it’ll. Fournier was clearly urgent after the primary couple of misses. Having watched him so much in Orlando, Fournier missed a ton of pictures that he normally buries.
On the re-watch of the sport, Fournier appears to have already got a superb understanding how one can play off Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. That would imply Brad Stevens can return to the double-duos he favored final yr, when he virtually all the time had two of Tatum, Walker, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward on the ground. Search for that to develop with this group, with Fournier instead of Hayward.
On protection, Fournier had a reasonably respectable evening. He’ll need to study to shut “laborious and excessive” on three-point shooters, as that’s one thing Boston does that could be very totally different from Orlando. However he held his personal on switches, which is one thing the Celtics do much more than the Magic too. He even managed to dam/strip Zion Williamson twice. That’s a superb signal for the longer term.
6. Talking of Zion Williamson, defending him is akin to being locked in a cage with a grizzly bear and seeing should you can keep alive for a brief time period. Grant Williams received the beginning and defended probably the most complete possessions in opposition to Williamson. Williams held up fairly properly too. Williamson solely received off 4 pictures in 13 possessions in opposition to Williams.
Marcus Sensible had Williamson fairly a bit as properly, and in addition held up strongly. We’re going to return again to this subsequent takeaway.
Luke Kornet was the third-most prevalent defender and was extra of a combined bag. He contested pictures, however Williamson is simply too fast and too sturdy for Kornet to cease him on the rim. After all, that’s true of just about any defender within the NBA.
General, Boston held Williamson to 10-of-20 from the ground. The protection was actively contesting him within the paint. That’s about the perfect you may hope for in opposition to one of many NBA’s rising stars.
7. Marcus Sensible’s protection has slipped noticeably this season, and the Celtics protection has slipped proper together with it. Perhaps accidents are an element, however Sensible is struggling to maintain opposing ballhandlers in entrance of him. He’s additionally playing for steals so much. And, greater than ever, he’s giving himself up and making an attempt to take expenses. That final one has all the time been a factor, nevertheless it’s much more prevalent this season.
The playing and flopping are each indicators that Sensible perhaps doesn’t belief himself to beat the opponent to the spot like he all the time has. Sensible additionally was unscreenable. He’d flip round them, struggle by them or typically simply get skinny and keep away from the contact fully. Now, Sensible is commonly getting picked off on screens and calling for switches he by no means would have known as for earlier than.
On the flip facet, Sensible has held up very properly in opposition to bigs and carried out a stable job in opposition to massive wings. It’s the faster, shifty ballhandlers who appear to be giving him hassle. Sensible isn’t younger anymore at age 27, and he’s had a protracted historical past of mid-body and leg accidents. If he’s misplaced a few of his quickness, that could possibly be contributing to the struggles on the perimeter.
This is also a case for Sensible returning to a bench function when Jaylen Brown and Evan Fournier are within the lineup collectively. That might spot his minutes higher, and hopefully maintain him more energizing for a playoff run. Nevertheless it’s solved for, it’s one thing Brad Stevens and Sensible want to determine collectively.
8. It’s going to go unnoticed, as a result of there weren’t numerous eye-popping performs, however Robert Williams has made a case that he ought to stick as Boston’s beginning middle. Williams scored seven factors, however grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out 5 assists and blocked three pictures.
Williams is arguably probably the most athletic massive Boston has ever had. His second-jump means is unbelievable. He’s up, down and up once more earlier than most others are even again down. He’s additionally fast sufficient to modify onto any opponent and maintain his personal. If the Celtics are ever in a position to get their protection again on monitor, Williams can be a significant motive why.
Right here’s a superb instance of Williams’ defensive versatility. He slides all the way down to the baseline to chop of the ballhandler. Then he recovers again to Steven Adams in the course of the lane. After which he’s fast and lengthy sufficient to assist on the rim by stripping Zion Williamson. This sequence of performs is one thing no different Celtics massive can do proper now:
9. This was a sport that screamed for extra from Kemba Walker. With Jaylen Brown out, Walker wanted to offer secondary scoring behind Jayson Tatum. He did okay, however he might have been a bit extra egocentric searching pictures. Walker was simply 2-of-9 from behind the arc, however handed up some attractiveness, particularly late. He can’t do this and have Boston’s offense proceed to move. It turns into a report scratch and all the things has to reset.
The excellent news is that Walker seemed fast and explosive as a finisher across the basket. That continues a string of a number of performances the place he’s seemed good bodily. Not taking part in back-to-back video games isn’t preferrred, but when it has Walker prepared for the playoffs, then it’s the correct name.
10. Playoffs? Did you say playoffs? Certain did! The Celtics could also be struggling to search out consistency, however they continue to be only one sport out of homecourt benefit within the Japanese Convention playoffs. They nonetheless have extra dwelling video games left this season than simply about anyone. They’ve received six extra left this week and subsequent.
Ought to anybody trust Boston will rip off a 5 or six-game win streak? Nope. They haven’t been that crew all yr. But when it’s ever going to occur, now can be the time. It’s alright to have your life jacket on. Simply don’t really abandon ship. Not simply but.