FINAL: Toronto: 118 Boston: 95
No need to beat around the bush here, the Celtics got drubbed, trounced, embarrassed, and flat out beaten last night in Toronto. After a disappointing weekend highlighted by a blowout loss to the lowly Bulls it seemed like things couldn’t get any worse. The funny thing about that is, they couldn’t get worse, and they didn’t get worse. The Celtics just stayed exactly the same and decided to just stay at the bottom of the barrel last night and let Toronto reign terror. Nothing improved and the same things that plagued them against Chicago reared their ugly head’s as we saw poor rotations, awful PnR defense, and an overall disconnect top to bottom on the roster. What made this team so hard to beat in prior iterations was their unwavering loyalty to each other and refusal to go down easily.
This team on the other hand, they look like they don’t care, and make the game look like such a chore. It’s like it’s an inconvenience to ask them to play hard and play together as a team. Last night started out eerily similar to Saturday as the Celtics fought for the first quarter and while the defense wasn’t amazing by any stretch, they held the lead 32-30 after 1. At the start of the second after 2 Terry Rozier free throws, disaster ensued as the Raptors caught fire and the Celtics fell asleep on defense.
Look at that whole run and tell me how bad those rotations are. If the Raptors moved the ball more than twice on offense the Celtics were cooked. Right off the bat the Raptors hit 3 threes to start the run and two of those were due to guys getting lost. The communication was nonexistent and when the Raptors decided to run a pick and roll/pop, forget about it. They weren’t anywhere near shooters and it’s puzzling as defense has been the calling card for this team for the passed decade no matter the personnel.
Other than the 18-0 run, Toronto outscored Boston 36-13 overall in the second quarter as the Raptors went 14-26 from the floor compared to a 4-15 effort by the Celtics. For comparison, against the Bulls on Saturday they were outscored 36-18 in the second quarter. They allowed them to go 14-24 from the field as they struggled only hitting 7-21 shots. I wouldn’t even compare these two games due to the gap in strength of opponent but they were too similar. Fight for a quarter, fall asleep, get down big, try to claw back, and fail. That was the recipe the passed 2 games and the only difference is against Chicago they were able to get it under 10 while last night the Raptors slammed the door shut. Great NBA teams slam the door shut when they get up by around 20 and the Celtics got a rude awakening that they can’t keep doing this if they want to be successful
They had the lead down to 15 at a 8:02 left in the third quarter after a Morris 4 point play and then BAM… a 24-9 run. This ballooned the lead to 95-64 at 1:34 in the third as it was clear this one was all but over with a quarter to go. This run leads me into something else that I’ve bit my tongue on for quite some time. Brad Stevens is absolutely horrendous at calling timeouts and last night was another rough showing in that regard. I get wanting to let the players play out of it but at some point enough is enough. During the 18-0 run he waited until it got to a 13-0 run before calling a timeout and then again didn’t call another until the Celtics were down by 20 late in the first half. How long do you want to wait and watch your team get drubbed until calling one? I get wanting to let them play out of it but in a big game like this things can get out of hand fast. If Brad’s going to use the timeout when they get down by 20, why not just use it when they get down by 8? A timely timeout can stem momentum and reap wonders in a game like this in a hostile environment on the road.
Another thing that really bothered me was this play right here late in the third.
3 different guys stared at Siakam as he went coast to coast and none of them had a care in the world to stop him. I can deal with poor rotations, I can deal with missed shots, I can deal with subpar timeout use, but I cannot deal with giving up. No matter what the score is you keep playing defense and you keep fighting because who knows what could happen. That’s what last year’s team would do, that’s what the Isaiah led teams would do, and that’s what any team in this league with a clue would do. The Celtics don’t have a clue right now and quite frankly, it’s embarrassing to watch.
I haven’t even touched on their struggles offensively last night and it feels like I’ve already mentioned everything that led to the loss. Spoiler alert: they were really, really, REALLY bad on offense as well. They shot 38.4% from the field (33-86) , 20% from 3 (6-30), and looked disinterested in trying to fix it. Kyrie had a mere 7 points (lowest since he had 3 against Detroit 10/27) and the rest of the starters didn’t pick up much of the slack either.
They were severely outplayed by the Toronto starters as Pascal Siakam had 25 (10-16 shooting), and Kawhi Leonard had 21 on a smooth 9-15 night from the field. The Celtics had nothing for either of them and they both were able to get going after being gifted some easy looks early.
This game got so bad that after Tatum was T’d up late in the second, we got this soundbite from Brad Stevens.
These guys made Brad drop an F-bomb on live television and that was tiny news last night. That is how bad last night was, Brad dropped one of the funniest live coach quotes this season and it is a footnote because the Celtics got stomped on.
If you need to be reminded of the picture that started off this recap, it’s right here.
It’s honestly pretty ironic how these things work because I can’t dream of a better picture to describe last night. Who knows what Kyrie is thinking (I try and stay off of Twitter after games like this because the takes fly off the press like wildfire) but whatever it is, it sure isn’t great. I’ve seen others use this picture and incite that it shows how bad of a leader Kyrie is but I don’t get that. This is how it looks when you’re down 31 in basketball and you’re on the bench. This is exactly what it looks like and if anybody wants to use this as some sort of anti-Kyrie fodder, I’d for certain roll my eyes at you. What can be used as anti-Kyrie fodder were his comments postgame. Brad Stevens was asked about the defense and had this to say on the matter.
When Kyrie was asked about Brad’s comments and what they need to do defensively he responded back with: “I don’t know, it’s up to Brad” and was silent after that. I really don’t think he understands how this type of stuff is received by the media because I don’t think he’s throwing Brad under the bus here. He just says things to say them and he isn’t thoughtful whatsoever about how quotes can be taken out of context. Saying something like “I don’t know, we need to work on it, it hasn’t been great lately” or something quick does the trick.
The beauty of the NBA is that games like these can be put behind you and forgotten about as the Celtics get back to Boston tonight for a matchup with Portland. Marcus Smart preached last night that this team will figure it out. I really want to believe him but it’s time to move on and start being about it instead of just talking about it. Until they be about it, I won’t believe in it.