I have neglected my beloved Celtics for some time now, I know. Maybe because the very idea of not seeing Kyrie break ankles for the rest of the season devastates me. Or because I don’t get to see Marcus Smart’s energy and routine sacrifices on defense. It could be because one of our most dynamic bigs (who also happens to be a 25-year old rookie) has been and will be out for the rest of the season. Quite possibly—it could be all three.
Stepping Up Big
My depression of key pieces lost should not take away from what this team has been able to do in their absence. Since March 11th, which we can argue is when everyone started dropping like flies, the guys are 5-3. One of those losses was a thrilling double-OT against the Wizards, which was hard fought. The wins included another thriller against OKC and a come-from-behind-rally in the fourth against Portland. So who do we have to thank?
- Al Horford: I’m not going to give you his stat line for this period because it doesn’t matter, not really. All that matters is what he brings to this team, especially when Kyrie isn’t there. This athletic PF can play C AND run an offense, which is the most important in this case. He doesn’t always have to give you 15 points to make a difference.
- Jayson Tatum: the rookie had been climbing his way out of his slump and it looks like he’s back to early season form. His stat line for the last eight games: 17.5 pts, 2.4 ast, 6.6 rbs, and shooting 50% from the floor.
- Terry Rozier: Its not surprise this guy continues to have an impact. He stepped up the first time Kyrie had to sit out, recording a triple-double in his first career start. Not to mention the very next game he recorded a career-high 31 points. Well, he topped that in the game against the Kings by recording 33 points. His last eight games: 18.3 pts, 4.4 ast, 6 rbs, and shooting 40% from the floor.
- Marcus Morris: this guy has always been our dark horse. People are still surprised to see when he is a top scorer for the team or when he hits the game winning three. I’m not sure why because his style of play is the reason why we wanted him in the first place. His last 7 games (missed one due to an ankle): 19.7 pts, 5.6 rbs, and shooting 51% from the floor.
- Greg Monroe: special shout out to Moose Monroe and his last eight games: 11.5 pts, 6.6 rbs, and shooting 52% from the floor. I knew he would be a great addition to the team and he’s been getting it done in the paint/post for us. Let’s hope it continues.
- Brad Stevens: just four words–> COACH OF THE YEAR. That’s all.
I pointed out specific members of the team, but of course there are others who contribute in important ways as well. Together they succeed, not individually.
But What Expectations Should We Have?
I mentioned this a bit before in another (very) short article but I will say it again. This team has already exceeded the expectations of everyone. When Gordon Hayward went down, no one thought the Celtics would subsequently go on a 16-game win streak and hold the top spot in the East for the majority of the season. But they did, and I couldn’t be more proud. So with that being said, I’m going to be realistic. This team could more than likely make it past a first round match up and depending on the opponent, maybe a second. Though, I’m not really looking for them to have some sort of Cinderella not really) run like they did last year. It should be seen as an opportunity to gain experience in a play off atmosphere for those who haven’t experienced it yet. So, for those who are saddened by the multiple injuries, don’t be. What has happened this season wasn’t even supposed to. But yes, we will continue to support our Celtics for as long as they stay alive. And we will also get excited for what’s to come next season: healthy roster full of talented young players.
Watch the Celtics go for 5 straight tonight against the Jazz on ESPN/ NBC Sports Boston.
First, birthday shout out to this guy! Happy 26th and wishing you many more wonderful years to come.
Second, it has been reported that Kyrie will be having a minimally invasive procedure on his knee Saturday. He hasn’t played since March 11th, so if his knee is bothering him that much, then that’s that.
There is no time table as everyone has said, but I don’t think it matters. Personally, I think it’s time to call it. The majority of the team is super banged up right now with Theis not returning and Smart probable. Jaylen is out on concussion protocol too so, yeah.
The guys that have stepped up in the absence of the core have been great, and this had been a great opportunity for them to show what they can do/get in a rhythm playing together. There is nothing wrong with calling it this season. Not when there’s so much to look forward to next season (having a healthy Gordon Hayward, Kyrie and Al all in the line up at once!?!).
Bottom line: rehab and rest up (a continuation for some). The young guys will be able to get some experience in a playoff series so that when the time comes again, they won’t be so green (no pun intended).
Pic cred: NBC Sports
The Boston Celtics went into Indiana last night with a 25-7 record. Lately, the Cs have had some difficulty with their second unit, and were exposed in the loses against the Bulls and Jazz. Kyrie Irving missed the game against the Bulls, and they’ve been without the productivity of Marcus Morris due to his troublesome knee. And though the Celtics won against the Grizzlies 102-93, Brad Stevens has been determined to find the right combination to remedy their second unit troubles.
Fixing the Second Unit
There was no shortage of scoring in Indiana last night. The Celtics came out blazing, closing out the first quarter with a 17-point lead. Brad took Jayson Tatum and Al Horford out early, leading many to believe they were going to be used to spark the second unit. That did indeed happen and boy, did it help. The Cs put up 24 points in the second quarter, an improvement compared to the 17 they put up against the Grizzlies on Saturday. The bench contributed 37 points, with Marcus Smart going 5-6 and 4-4 from three for 15 points.
Down to the Wire
After having that 17-point lead at halftime, the Pacers had a second half comeback led by the surge of Victor Oladipo. Indiana outscored Boston in both the third and fourth quarter by 14. They tied the game at 100 a piece with 1:52 left to play and took the lead going into the final seconds of the game. Kyrie Irving made two clutch threes, putting the Cs within reach with 10 seconds left to play. The Pacers used their final timeout, and it was Bogdanovic’s job to make the inbound pass. Well, Terry Rozier made sure he was there to challenge that pass. He made the steal and completed the breakaway dunk, putting the Cs up 112-111 with 1 second left.
It was definitely the most exciting win of the season for Boston, who moves to 26-7 on the year. They lead the Cavs by just two games, with two back-to-backs coming up to close out 2017. Meanwhile, the Cavs get a healthy 1-2 days in between the rest of their match ups.
Don’t miss the Celtics return home to play the Heat on Wednesday night @ 7:30. This will no doubt be a chance for payback after Miami ended the 16- game streak. Let’s go Celtics!
In Case You Missed It…
After getting off to a slow start the Celtics won their eighth straight game against the Magic 104-88, holding them to a season low 20.7% shooting from three. Jaylen Brown led the team with 18 points, and the bench really came through with 36 points for the Cs. Marcus Smart led the bench with 11 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists. But of course, NO ONE is talking about how great this team is, just how awful the Cavs are.
After LeBron scored 57 points Friday night, Harden went and scored 56 to help his Rockets soar past the Jazz 137-110. Harden was 7-8 from three and had 13 assist (hard to believe someone who scored 56 points even shared the ball). Houston is now 8-3 and is getting ready to host the Cavs on Thursday. Who needs Chris Paul anyway?
The Clippers lost to the Heat at home 104-101. Griffin had 23 points and Jordan had 19 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough. After starting 4-0, the Clips have now lost 4 of their last five, including a 28 point loss to the Warriors. The new look Clips with Griffin at the helm seems to be having some difficulty. They look to bounce back against the Spurs on Tuesday.
Cavs lost their home game to the Hawks, handing them their second win of the season (and gaining their sixth loss). The Cavs gave up 37 points in the first quarter, but came back to get within 2 after LeBron’s layup with just seconds on the clock. The Cavs could have won this game with a three or tied it to go to OT after Taylor of the Hawks missed his free throws; but the coward who shall remain anonymous decided not to take the last shot. Instead, he passes the ball to Channing Frye…like, what? Who is that? I mean, if he was going to pass up the last shot, at least give it to Korver who made five 3-pointers and scored 19 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. But really, how about not putting yourself in this position in the first place by, oh I don’t know, playing some defense (did I mention they are dead last in the league, while Kyrie and the Cs sit atop the rankings in this category AND the East?). What a disappointment Cleveland.
Friday night’s NBA action saw a team make history, a surprising loss, some hopeful wins and continued disappointments.
The Celtics won their seventh straight game last night and became the first team in NBA history to do so after losing their first two games. It wasn’t easy, as they were down 55-37 at halftime. They came back and scored 64 points in the second half, with Irving scoring 22 of his 25 total points and Horford coming through with some clutch threes in the fourth quarter.
The Magic lost to the Bulls at home by 22 and fell to 6-3. Aaron Gordon only scored 11 points in the game (he has an average of 19.3). The Cavs won their matchup against the Wizards and LeBron scored 57 points. This win ended a four game losing streak and they look to continue rolling against the Hawks on Sunday. The Spurs beat the Hornets, ending their four game losing streak. Forbes and Gay were the heroes, scoring 22 and 20 points, respectively.
The disappointment continues for the Mavs, who just can’t seem to get it together. They lost their fifth game in a row, falling to the Pelicans 99-94 (probably because Nowitzki went 2-9 with 7 points). This team used to be a contender, so it’s hard to see Nowitzki spend his final years on a team like this. But I know his loyalty won’t allow him to go anywhere else. I would just like to this team get back to their winning ways.
Mitchell watch: although his team lost to the Raptors 109-100, the rookie scored 25 points off of the bench (he led the team in scoring). That’s two 20+ point games in a row. I’m telling you, don’t sleep on this kid.
Celtics should be the story this coming week: without Gordon Hayward, this team has won seven straight games and have held their last seven opponents to less than 100 points; talk about defying expectations! But unfortunately, I have a feeling that LeBron’s 57 point performance and the Cavs first win in four games will take center stage. Why do people feel the need to praise this team for something they were expected to do in the first place? Whatever, because Derrick Rose’s weak knees and ankles won’t make it through the season (they never do) and IT won’t be the same. D-Wade’s old knees can’t last much longer and hasn’t LeBron already confessed to feeling his age? It is a new era; move over LeBron!
The Celtics sit atop the east, with the Magic right behind them (both are 6-2). Meanwhile, LeBron and the Cavs sit at a surprising 3-5, just above Chicago and Atlanta, who both only have one win on the season. I think most of us can admit we didn’t expect any of this to happen, regardless of how early it is in the season.
The Cs may have dropped their first two games against the Cavs and the Bucks, but have since won six straight. They lead the league in total defense with a rating of 95, with four of their starters ranked in the top ten in individual defense. The rookie Jayson Tatum is fitting right in, averaging 14 points and 7 rebounds a game. In his second year, Jaylen Brown is in the race for most improved player, with 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. Kyrie Irving is also finding his footing, averaging 21.7 points and 5.7 assists. The budding chemistry between Irving and Horford, as well as the rest of the team has been fun to watch so far this season.
The Cavs however, just can’t seem to get it right. After a very busy offseason of trades and transactions, they’re out here losing to teams like the Knicks, Nets, Bulls and Magic (who are actually taking care of business this year). These four teams minus the Magic are garbage, so I am very amused by the fact that they were able to knock off LeBron and his precious Cavs. As his team continues to rack up those losses, he wants everyone to know that there is plenty of blame to go around. Yes, this is a team sport, but how many times have we heard other players shoulder the blame for their teams’ performance? Quite a few, but I don’t ever remember LeBron being one of them; which is interesting considering he pretty much runs the show there in Cleveland. But hey, what do I know? I’m just a fan from a real, live sports city. Either way, I’m not hoping for a recovery anytime soon; just let the Celtics continue to quietly rule the east.