The Celtics simply… actually, I don’t even know what that was.
That was one of many least pleasurable basketball video games I’ve ever had the displeasure of experiencing. I want I may say that I “watched” it transpire, however that 48 minute disasterclass felt extra like I used to be coming down with smallpox than watching a basketball recreation, slowly dying inside because the Los Angeles Clippers—a group that the Celtics clobbered by 37 on the highway in December—continued their onslaught.
When our great Adam Taylor needed to name me off the bench for tonight’s 10 Takeaways for the second time this season, I used to be excited. This can be a good group coming to Boston for what needs to be a aggressive recreation, with plenty of attention-grabbing and helpful takeaways to talk of. As a substitute, that occurred.
It was wall-to-wall failure, full with all the trimmings of a disastrous Celtics loss. Horrible three level taking pictures? Examine. Poor decision-making and self-discipline? You bought it. Worst proportion from the sector all season? Guide it.
Solely as soon as the Clippers eliminated their starters may the Celtics bench do their darnedest to make the ultimate rating look as respectable as potential, shaving it all the way down to a bad-but-not-comically-bad 115-96 defeat. However this one ought to go within the file books as a 50 level loss, as if each groups performed it by way of, it may need even been worse.
I sincerely hope that you simply—valued reader of CelticsBlog—have been unable to observe final night time attributable to a scheduling battle, as there was roughly zero enjoyable available. However in case you’re like me and tuned in all the identical, listed here are 10 painstaking takeaways.
1. The Celtics usually are not a Finals group with out Kristaps Porzingis
Tonight uncovered by far the Celtics’ greatest weak point: Kristaps Porzingis’ left ankle. Or knee. Or Lisfranc joint, no matter that even is.
With out Porzingis, the Celtics are liable to get blown off the face of the Earth by nice groups, one thing the Clippers simply introduced themselves as. A foul defensive matchup immediately has no curveball, and an unfortunate taking pictures night time can snowball right into a bona fide disaster.
This can be a horrible possession, harking back to the worst habits of previous Celtics groups. It’s a tunnel imaginative and prescient drive with 21 seconds on the shot clock into the chest of a defender with higher positioning, and can remind followers of among the worst video games of Jaylen Brown’s profession. These are game-killers, liable to offer your opponent a free cease and transition alternative and make your teammates surprise what the heck you’re even doing.
However Brown has managed to keep away from most of these unhealthy habits all 12 months, primarily as a result of he has an automated security valve in Porzingis. Possessions like these don’t kill a complete recreation when the Celtics can get a free good shot out of a decide and roll. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have been shutting down every little thing the Celtics had on the perimeter, however I don’t suppose Mason Plumlee and Daniel Theis would have had any likelihood in opposition to Porzingis’ dimension.
In brief, Porzingis merely wouldn’t have allowed Brown and others to proceed their self-destructive tendencies. He doesn’t simply add a layer to the offense as he turns it from a single boring slice of unfrosted vanilla cake right into a scrumptious, buttercream frosted multi-layer chocolate-strawberry-raspberry marble cake.
The Celtics are the most effective group within the league with Porzingis however not close to adequate with out him. How a lot would you guess on him attending to the end line?
2. Deep breath
Okay, that was the primary takeaway, so we’ll be utilizing the second slot right here to take a collective psychological well being break. Whoever you’re, please cease studying and take 4 deep breaths, I’ll do the identical.
Subsequent, we’re going to do some affirmations:
It’ll be okay. This isn’t going to derail your complete season. Porzingis will likely be again. The Celtics have been by no means going to go 40-1 at house. We’re a robust and succesful group. Luke Kornet’s haircut regarded good.
Lastly, right here’s a royalty-free image of a pet to cheer everybody up:
Video games like this could result in plenty of adverse feelings throughout and after the expertise, so it’s necessary that we deal with them like accountable adults. Now, again to our frequently scheduled program.
3. The snowball impact
The Celtics have been fairly clearly caught in a nasty matchup from the bounce with out Porzingis, as whereas noble backups Al Horford and Luke Kornet can present on-paper dimension, they don’t complement it with any imposing pressure down low. However let’s get one factor straight: it didn’t need to be that unhealthy.
There’s a Buddhist saying that ache is inevitable however struggling is non-compulsory. Some days, it’s going to really feel like there’s a lid on the basket. That’s life, however you don’t have to reply by doing this:
This play drives me insane. It’s the second the Celtics misplaced the sport for good, as their lone overture into the Clippers’ lead evaporated as Brown casually pushed his foot beneath James Harden after 22 seconds of excellent protection. It was an enormous swing, giving the Clippers three free throws and the ball, however much more importantly canned the Celtics’ momentum for good.
Within the NBA, you may management every little thing you do besides as soon as the ball leaves your arms. The Celtics have been colder than absolute zero on Saturday night time, however that’s no excuse for nonchalant fouls, lazy rebounding and apathetic execution. Certain, it was a nasty matchup with the Celtics’ lacking their unicorn, however video games final 4 quarters. Don’t let it snowball from the very starting.
4. Schedule losses don’t exist, they’ll’t harm you
Let’s paint an image. Workforce A is captained by three 30+ year-old stars, all with a historical past of lacking tons of video games and resting continually, usually to the detriment of the group. It’s the second night time of a again to again, with Workforce A touring all the way in which from Canada in a single day.
Workforce B had a typical relaxation day, and simply produced one of many best offensive performances in NBA historical past. They’re 20-1 at house, and whereas they’re lacking a key participant, Workforce B obliterated Workforce A of their prior assembly a month earlier.
Every little thing on paper mentioned the Celtics needs to be in a great spot even with out Porzingis, however final night time was one other reminder that there aren’t any excuses within the NBA. The Clippers got here in able to ball and the Celtics got here in and underestimated them. It wasn’t fairly, however it’s fairly easy.
5. Please for the love of all that’s holy move Jayson Tatum the ball
This play isn’t going to look that unhealthy in actual time, however give it a couple of watches and see if you’ll find what’s mistaken with this image.
When you answered, “Oh, Jayson Tatum is being guarded by Daniel Theis,” you nailed it. The Celtics utterly overreacted to a double group and launched one other early three whereas the Clippers closed out like their lives relied on it.
I don’t blame Brown for taking this shot within the summary, however that’s if we ignore that threes had been clanking off the rim like golf-ball sized hail on a tin roof all night time. The Celtics wanted to get again into their offense and stabilize a chaotic recreation. Even when it went in, a 3 ball isn’t the way in which to do this.
As a substitute, Tatum may have exploited an advantageous matchup, one thing he did a couple of instances with main success. However he solely took 14 two pointers the entire night time, lots of which got here after the sport was all however over. With how the Celtics offense was working, Tatum ought to have taken 25 pictures within the first half. As a substitute, the Celtics didn’t exploit their one benefit.
6. Caught at 46 factors
There isn’t a lot to remove from this takeaway, however I simply needed to memorialize a reasonably hilarious stretch within the third Quarter by which it felt just like the Celtics could be caught at 46 factors perpetually.
From the 9:52 to three:18 marks within the interval, the Celtics remained at 46 factors. That’s 6 minutes and 34 seconds. For reference, the Clippers scored 21 factors in that stretch, almost half of the Celtics’ whole rating to that time.
When you scroll by way of the NBA’s official play-by-play of the sport, there have been 66 particular person performs between the Celtics recording factors. Across the 5-minute mark, I began to surprise if the Celtics would ever rating once more, or simply forfeit the sport, claiming that divine intervention made it not possible to move 46 factors.
Fortunately, Luke Kornet transformed a layup to interrupt the seal. However man, that was one thing. For the reason that recreation itself was like having smallpox, I’d think about that run was what it felt like for smallpox sufferers to get buried alive.
7. The Clippers are enjoying to their potential, will it maintain?
Final night time forcibly wrested my lingering Clippers doubt and threw it instantly within the incinerator. These guys are nuts.
This protection is outrageous. Horford has zero choices in any way, because the Clippers fly round like superb golden eagles, masking each possibility and fairly actually forcing a turnover. What’s humorous is that the Clippers didn’t have a very environment friendly offensive recreation, however they shut the Celtics down so completely they could possibly be wherever from wonderful to no matter and nonetheless win.
I solely have one query: will this maintain?
The Clippers have been a quote-unquote contender since I used to be 16, ever since Leonard and George teamed as much as create one of many nice tremendous groups of the trendy NBA period. Absolutely they’ve had main playoff success, and perhaps a title by my twenty first birthday, proper?
Incorrect, as a result of this “contender” has been repeatedly torpedoed by its personal stars getting injured, not caring, or someplace within the murky center. I didn’t care how good they have been on paper, as a result of in the event that they didn’t care, why ought to I take them critically?
Then got here the commerce for Messiah of not-caring: James Harden, and myself and plenty of affordable NBA individuals decried the deal as a catastrophic panic, destined to doom the Clippers forevermore.
Besides that hasn’t occurred in any respect, and the Clippers have been superior, led by their brigade of ageing stars who’re simply getting it performed. However by no means am I letting my guard down, as there are too many confirmed damage susceptible season-killers on this squad to make sure something in any respect.
However man, when they’re all locked in, they is perhaps the (whispers) finest group within the West.
8. Kawhi Leonard is insane at basketball
Does anybody mix two-way talent and physicality like Kawhi? His shot making capacity is top-flite, however then he’ll come down the ground and lock up your finest participant, all of the whereas using an impossibly robust body and bodily instruments to make actually something occur.
Nevertheless it’s not simply how a lot he produces. It’s how straightforward he makes it look.
There have been a bunch of possessions the place Leonard discovered himself guarding Tatum or Brown and shut them down with what regarded like very minimal effort. He has such an hermetic defensive stance and super-computer reactions that he can destroy each micromovement by even probably the most proficient wing scorers. It was sneakily the most effective particular person protection I’ve seen performed on these two all season, and—if I’m being trustworthy—was sort of cool to observe.
9. A story of two Lukes
I’ve a sophisticated relationship with Luke Kornet. I’m going to elucidate it in two movies.
Within the first video, Luke goes coast-to-coast just like the heroes of previous, blocking a shot on one finish and catching a lob on the opposite finish by working the entire flooring. He had me amped up for the primary time all night time, and I noticed in that play all of the upside that Kornet can have at his finest: a shot blocker with strong ending capacity.
After which there’s the second instance, the place Luke is unable to even get a clear shot up regardless of an enormous top benefit. The clip cuts out too early, as a result of he additionally picks up a foul instantly after getting again on protection.
I joked to some associates that Kornet ought to simply get a haircut and placed on Porzingis’ jersey when he misses time, maybe channeling his vitality into elite degree play. I used to be kidding, however then Kornet really acquired a haircut, and I used to be compelled to take a tough have a look at his play.
I desperately need him to be the backup massive the Celtics want, however there’s merely an excessive amount of variance in his play to depend on him. That second clip must be a bucket, regardless of how good Kawhi Leonard is.
10. Taking part in for self-respect with Payton Pritchard
By the tip of the third quarter, the sport was over after which some. The Clippers had put the Celtics to mattress, and each groups began to take their foot off the fuel. There wasn’t the faintest glimmer of hope of truly successful the sport, so all that was left was to play for self-respect.
And to shut issues out on this marathon of painful takeaways, I wish to thank Payton Pritchard for caring for 47 superb seconds on the finish of the third. He created a bucket, saved hustling and compelled Harden right into a turnover, after which hit a 3 as time expired. Pritchard realized the sport was over, but additionally realized there’s extra to life than successful.
He needed to play for himself and for his guys, and since he lives for the sport of basketball. Even in a horrible loss, you prefer to see that.