At Brooklyn 1/14: An Atrocity

FINAL: Brooklyn: 109 Boston: 102

Do you want to know how you nuke your chances of winning a game? That would be by giving up 44 points in the third quarter, and allowing your opposition to go on a 29-7 run in 7 minutes of play. That is exactly what the Celtics did tonight and even though they ultimately had a chance to win late (keyword is chance, it wasn’t that close), this was a complete disaster.

To start off, let us take a look at that infamous third quarter. D’Angelo Russell was unconscious as he had 18 of his 34 points in the third quarter. He just could not miss and I was disappointed in the defensive effort against him. Countless times I watched the Celtics go under screens only to have Russell drill a three. From there he got comfortable and started hitting shots like this

And shots like this:

He led the Nets and by the time they were done in the third they held a 90-66 lead entering the fourth which is as insurmountable as it gets. Not only did Russell give the Celtics issues but Jarret Allen was a problem as well as he posted 19 points 12 rebounds (5 offensive) and 4 blocks. He patrolled the paint and really made a difference as he just overpowered the Celtic bigs all night long on the glass.

I wrote earlier on that with Kyrie and Smart out, Rozier, Brown, and Wanamaker all had an opportunity to open some eyes with their play. Long story short, 2 of those 3 had good performances and I’ll leave it to you to guess who did not. Yes, Terry Rozier had another disappointing performance as he posted just 7 points and 5 assists on 3-12 from the floor and 1-6 from three along with 3 turnovers. He was stapled to the bench in the fourth and Stevens elected to go with Brad Wanamaker down the stretch instead. Wanamaker gave the Celtics a lift as he posted a career high 13 points on 4-11 shooting along with 3 boards, 4 assists, and 2 steals. While his 4-11 mark wasn’t much better than Rozier’s 3-12, it was the type of shots he was taking. Rozier continues to just force everything while most of Wanamaker’s shots were simply in rhythm and were good looks. If anything causes Coach Stevens to make a minutes adjustment, I’d imagine it would be this game as they clearly looked like a better team with Wanamaker on the court.

Jaylen Brown (22/6/0 and 2 steals) was one of the guys who brought the Celtics back late as he was tied for the team lead in +/- at a +14. He actually showed some fight late as the Celtics battled back in the fourth quarter and made an impact (10 points in the quarter) including this huge dunk on the whole Net’s team.

He and Tatum spearheaded the Celtic effort in the fourth quarter. While it ultimately was too little too late, it was promising to see that the team actually had a pulse. After getting absolutely pumped in the 3rd they responded by outscoring the Nets 36-19 in the fourth and making this one a game. I got lulled into their trap once again of believing they had a chance and I feel like this has happened far too often this season. They regularly get down big, fight back, and eventually run out of time.

On the subject of Tatum, he was one of the bright spots for the green tonight as he finally broke the 30 point mark. He had 34 on 12-19 shooting and that included a monster fourth quarter where he had 15 points and hit big shot after big shot to will the Celtics back.

I don’t know if something clicked for he and Jaylen, but all of a sudden they started going to the basket hard and good things happened. A problem with this team has been their willingness to settle for jump shots instead of taking it to the bucket. Hopefully that fourth quarter made something click for them where they continue to attack the rim hard.

A few numbers stood out to me when looking at the box score and I can circle three in particular. They were out-rebounded 55-41, they shot 30% from three (ON 36 ATTEMPTS), and only tallied 21 assists. The most glaring one is that assist number as when the Celtics are playing well, they tally a ton of assists. In wins this year they average 27.5 assists per game while in losses that number dips to 23.7 per game. From those figures you can see how only getting 21 assists is a problematic stat for this team. They just chuck up errant shots and still look like they’re playing for themselves rather than for the team.

Once again, it just looks like they’re uninterested for quarters at a time and that fourth quarter only added to the frustration with this team. You see them go on that 28-8 run in the fourth after that debacle of a third quarter and you just can’t help but wonder why they don’t play like that all of the time. They don’t show any urgency until they’re too far down to even comeback and this hammers home Kyrie’s point on Saturday even more. There’s no accountability, there’s no effort, and they play hard when it’s convenient for them to play hard. It’s not that they can’t do it (we see them have stretches where they look unstoppable) they just don’t for whatever reason. Maybe it’s Brad, maybe it’s the players, maybe it’s something completely different, but they have to figure this issue out.

Wednesday night at home versus Toronto they won’t be able to play anywhere near how the played tonight, or else they’ll actually get blown out by 40. Honestly, with how this season has gone, I expect the Celtics to win this game and then we’ll really be scratching our heads wondering what is up with this team.

-Chuck

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