FINAL: San Antonio: 120 Boston: 111
I’m going to start this by saying I don’t remember the last time the Celtics beat the Spurs at the AT&T Center. I did some research to find out the Celtics haven’t won a game there since the 2010-11 season. I am completely all set with that place and I’m pretty pumped they won’t be playing there again this season.
They started off well as at the half the Celtics held a 52-46 lead and they looked good holding the Spurs to 33% from the field and 30.8% from downtown. LaMarcus Aldridge and Demar DeRozan were particularly vile as they were a combined 8-25 (insert puke emoji here). I swear that Aldridge looked like he was 40 years old and he couldn’t even put in a layup early on.
Jaylen actually looked like a suitable NBA player potting 30 points in the game (18 in the first half) on 10-15 from the floor and 3-5 from deep. He was really the only guy on the Celtics who put together a full 4 quarters of great basketball. We’ve seen him start off hot in the first half so many times for him to go scoreless in the second half. That wasn’t the case last night and above all, I think it’ll help him get back on track and close to the player he was in the playoffs last year. He was so aggressive and instead of just chucking up jumpers, he attacked the rim at first and things opened up for him. As I’ve said he’s a jump shooter second and he’s at his best when he’s going downhill hard to the rim.
What’s really hampered guys like him and even Terry this season is how they performed in the playoffs. Admittedly, they aren’t at that level they performed at in the playoffs yet full-time as players and their expectations coming into this season were sky-high. That being said, they also aren’t as bad as they’ve been for most of this season. Their talent is somewhere in the middle and seeing Jaylen put together that type of game, especially on the road against a tough team, was promising.
While Jaylen was the brightest spot for the green, Marcus Morris (18 and 4 boards), Kyrie Irving (16, 8 assists, and 2 steals), and Jayson Tatum (12 points 11 boards) all had solid nights as well. Gordon Hayward on the other hand, was real bad, going 0-6 from the floor and he kind of abandoned his offense. After a solid game against Memphis we see him take another step back. It’s just the natural peaks and valleys after such a gruesome injury and it’s still going to take some time.
Spurs players after the game said Pop laid into them at halftime and I don’t know what he said, but it sure worked. They came out in the third quarter and dropped 46 points and followed that up with 28 more in the fourth. They shot 67.4% for the half and were a mind-boggling 10-13 from three (76.9%). I was shocked when I hopped onto Google after the game to see that Davis Bretans isn’t in the Hall Of Fame. While he unfortunately is not in the Hall, he’s shot 48.9% from deep this year and he showed his touch hitting 5-8 last night. His 17 points were huge for the Spurs and he was the spark plug they needed as he was a game-high +17 and really made the most of his minutes. That dude was unbelievable last night. For example, this three from Curry range, I was disgusted when it went in.
Give me a break. That’s the type of shot that goes in and you just tip your cap, pack it in, and expect a loss.
After laughing all first half about how bad Aldridge was, he turned it up in the second half scoring 17 points on 7-8 shooting and ended up finishing the game with 32 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
I also couldn’t help but be amazed at how much better off the Raptors are after the Kawhi-DeRozan deal. They made out like bandits and after watching DeRozan last night I just really don’t think he can be the best player on a championship team. The fact that he can’t shoot from the outside and consistently takes mid-range jump shots is such an outdated way to play and just doesn’t work in the modern NBA. Last year he shot 31% from three and while that number isn’t impressive, it forced the defense to jump out on him and made him a threat out there as he shot 3.6 per night. In San Antonio, Pop I guess is really out on any sort of three-point game from DeRozan and he’s 7-40 from there all season.
They’re very post centric as Aldridge doesn’t shoot many threes either. Everything is clogged up down low and you could see the difference last night as their role players made things happen from deep. It spread the Celtics out and gave Aldridge the opportunity to go to work down low and it paid off.
Overall, it was a trip altogether and I’m hoping these types of Celtics game are completely left in 2018 (I hope Terry taking ill-advised shots is left in 2018 as well but I might be pushing my luck there).
Happy New Year Everyone!
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