This isn’t some panic piece. I’m not calling for heads to roll, Brad and the boys are fine. I still fully expect this team to hit it’s stride and be unstoppable. Come New Years if this team still smells then we can worry but until then, everyone relax. With that being said, what in God’s name was that road trip? Chuck has broken each game down perfectly, and if you haven’t seen his recaps I highly suggest you do, but as a collective I cant remember a more infuriating stretch of games in the Stevens Era, and I’d really appreciate it if it stopped. The offensive struggles are well noted at this point and to be honest they need to be talked about more. Look at the pieces on this team, at no point in time should a team featuring Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum be TWENTY SEVENTH in offensive rating. Combine that with being first in defensive rating and the very obvious problem becomes very more obvious, with very obvious answers.
Jayson Tatum needs to wake up, preferably now. I understand he’s still not technically old enough to drink and a sophomore slump is someone expected, but shooting 41% from the field isn’t going to cut it. All off season long we heard how this team is ready to take back the East with Tatum being the offensive oil to fuel the engine, but so far into this season he’s stalling. Hopefully his last two games, averaging 24 points with splits of 50/50/90 are a sign of things to come because this team needs the Jayson Tatum of last years post season back. Speaking of players who showed up last post season….
I think Jaylen Brown forgot how to put basketballs into hoops. That’s really the only explanation. On this five game road trip Jaylen has LA Fitness member shooting splits of 37/21/70. Yes your eyes do not deceive you, the same man who shot 40% from three last year is currently shooting TWENTY ONE PERCENT. Do I expect Jaylen Brown to shoot 40% from deep for his career? No, and I don’t think that’s something he has to do either, he’s more than talented enough to contribute in massive ways from inside the arc, but 21% isn’t going to cut it.
Over the course of this off season any time a superstar was made available around the league the first team people would mention as a suitor would be Boston, and the first player would be Brown. I was one of the thousands of Celtics fans saying Brown’s ceiling is too high to trade for anyone not named Anthony Davis, but boy oh boy seeing what Kawhi is doing in Toronto right now is maddening. I’m not saying after one month maybe holding on to Jaylen was the wrong move, it wasn’t, he’s still going to be very good for a very long time, all I’m saying is I didn’t even expect it to be a discussion.
The other player linked in all these trade talks has been Terry Rozier. With Kyrie coming back everyone expected Rozier’s numbers to take a dive but he’s actually improved from distance, shooting 42% from range. That’s up from last years 38% and he’s only down roughly one attempt per game from a season ago. However, from inside the arc Terry’s percentage has gone from 41% to 35%.
Now the offensive struggles can be put on a few people and Terry is not one of them, however if he can start blowing by anyone and finish at the same rate he did last year we have no need to worry. Rozier isn’t the starting point guard on this team anymore so no one should expect him to be the answer to the offense, especially when he isn’t the problem, but once he gets in the same rhythm he was in back in May, this team takes off.
I’d be remiss, and honestly an idiot, not to mention Marcus Morris. In terms of simply scoring he has career highs in everything this season. Field goal percentage, three point percentage, free throw percentage, points, even “efficient field goal percentage” are all at numbers he has never seen during his nine year career. On a team of guys who have suddenly forgotten how basketball works, Morris has been, along with Kyrie, dragging this offense along. Hopefully he stays in Boston, but with how he’splaying, he’s going to be paid a kings ransom in July. Good for him he’s earned it, but I really hope Boston doesn’t squander a historic season from Morris.
I could delve further into the roster and each players struggles. Hayward clearly isn’t back to form, which is fine, from his horrific ankle explosion. Horford is shooting a career low from three, and for some reason Aron Baynes keeps hitting them. This team is all out of whack early on, yet they shouldn’t be in any rush to fix it. Anyone who fully expects this group to be anywhere but the Finals come June is a moron, but they really have to help themselves here early on. A battle down the stretch with a work horse like Giannis or a wagon like Toronto isn’t going to do this team any favors. Home court is essential for this team as they’ve openly stated how much they love the Garden crowd, but if this stretch of fecal offense continues, they’ll be on the road a lot more than home this post season.