Vs Houston 12/27: The Beard Gets The Last Laugh

FINAL: Houston: 127- Boston: 113

Last night was such a weird game, and honestly, one of the most annoying so far this season. It started out terribly as the Rockets hung 35 on the green in the first, then the Celtics clawed their way back from down 17 only to let up 70 points in the second half. Although the refs were a joke (James Harden shot 17 second half free throws including 12 in the fourth alone), this game was lost on poor rebounding and offensive lapses at inopportune times… and some dude named James Harden had 45 points.

The Celtics got mutilated on the glass as Clint Capela grabbed 19 rebounds (9 offensive) and big boyed the Celtic bigs (looking at you Theis) over and over again. Speaking of Theis, he was 0-3 from the field, opponents covered by him were 7-8 for 18 points, and he was a team low -27 in just 18 minutes of play. He just played a very soft game as he regularly got cold feet with the ball in his hands in the lane and got thrown around on defense. A revolving door would’ve played better defense than Theis last night and with the Celtics lack of depth up front, he needs to figure it out.

While most of the Celtics frustrated me to no end, Kyrie had another great game. 23 points, 11 dimes, 5 boards on 7-13 shooting. He and Harden had a run in the third quarter where they just traded impossible buckets. In a 2:57 span Harden was 3-3 for 9 points while Kyrie was 3-3 for 7 of his own.

I was most enamored by Kyrie doing Harden’s own move (it is a travel lol but whatever) on Harden. After the step-back trey ball he gave him a nice little stare-down and got back to work. That behind the back was some shit as well, how can you be that filthy handling the basketball? Oh yeah, that’s right, be Kyrie Irving, that’s how you do it.

This is a good segue into where I rip on Brad a little bit. I don’t like to nit pick like this but Kyrie was cooking and I would’ve liked Brad to have stuck with him longer. He came out at 1:48 in the third and didn’t return until 8:53 in the fourth. That isn’t a long time on the bench but in that time period the Rockets went on an 18-9 run and stretched out an 85-81 lead to 103-90 lead. That run was basically the game as the Celtics never got close again and I can’t help but think he could’ve either just let Kyrie finish the third, or put him back in a little bit earlier. Either way, your star shouldn’t be sitting 4 minutes in one of the most crucial points in the game.

Going back to that run, look at this lineup and tell me who on the floor gave you any sort of confidence.

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 9.08.52 PM.png

We already discussed Theis, Jaylen’s been sporadic all year long, Terry’s been a walking headache, and Hayward’s been hot and cold (mostly cold). Even if they wanted to get Kyrie some rest I would’ve liked to see Morris or maybe even Al out there to take some of the load on offense while Tatum was cold (4 points 2-7).

The +/- numbers for this lineup consisting of Hayward, Brown, Theis, and Terry were also poor as they combined for a -84. It’s even more alarming when you look at Kyrie, Al, Smart, and Morris to see they were a combined +22. After some math you can see that’s a net difference of 106. How does that even happen when the -84 crew was basically playing against bench players? These guys are supposed to be starter level talent and when they can’t outplay a thin Rockets bench it’s a disappointment.

I hate doing this ref badgering but I can’t help it. The league really has to do something about these Harden step-back three foul calls. Not to take anything away from his performance as he was spectacular, but he got 3 of those terrible calls alone in the fourth quarter. It was nonsense and while they were all suspect. one stuck with me in particular. I’m referring to this one on Smart late in the game.

What even is that? It’s so brutal to watch and it really takes away from the entertainment of a great matchup like we had last night. It slows the game down and takes away from the pace and just the flow of the game in general. Kudos to Harden for drawing those types of fouls, but it’s still bad for the game and it showed last night as the whole fourth was a drag.

On the bright side, it was another strong showing from Morris and Smart. Morris filled it up with 19 points and if it weren’t for his fugazzi ejection (players being able to get thrown out on 1 delay of game and 1 tech is the dumbest rule out there), I would say he was pretty flawless out there. For Smart, he chipped in 11 points and held his opposition to 3-10 from the floor including holding Harden to 2-6 from the floor.

He even did this:

p cool huh? Is that Rondo?

All in all though, a really annoying night as the Celtics had a golden opportunity with CP3 out with an injury. We’ll see if the Celts can get back on track tomorrow night in Memphis.

-Chuck

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