A surprise text from my brother on Wednesday led me to great seats Thursday night for one of the most anticipated rematches if the season. It was to be the first time fans would see Al Horford in a different uniform, and a test of whether or not the Celtics could compete against the big men of Philly.
I arrived early to catch the warm ups. As expected, Kemba was looking great and the boos began early as the imposing Joel Embid walked in to get loose before game time.
Disappointment fell as the injury report was released. Neither Smart or Horford would be playing, but regardless, I was looking forward to a competitive matchup.
After all the emotions of the game, and ultimately being present for the first home loss of the season, I have a few takeaways from Loge 13.
it was evident from the very beginning that Tatum was tired. He was lagging on both offense and defense. Hugging and puffing up and down the court he only gave us 15 points on 5/18 shooting. Brown’s contribution was even less. Jaylen provides a mere eight points and not much else. I’m not looking to criticize this usually dynamic duo, so I will chalk up this lack-luster performance to a tough back to back schedule. I fully expect this pair to show up in Dallas rested and ready to put on a spectacular display of skill and showmanship.
As in any living organism, when the heart isn’t beating properly, the body will suffer. As I’ve stated many times before, Marcus is the heartbeat of this team, and his absence is felt deep down to the core. In addition to the life Smart brings to the game, we are desperately needing his defensive prowess. No one can anticipate an opponent’s movements better than Marcus, and no one can contest a shot better than him either. There have been less forced turnovers while Marcus remains out, which ultimately results in less fast break points. Our intimidation factor has taken a hit as well. Opponents have a different mindset when they know they’re not facing a potential DPOY. When Marcus finally returns we will see our defense improve, and more wins as a result.
So much chatter is going about the Celtics needing a real Center. While I won’t argue the fact we are a relatively small line up, I have to give respect to Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter. Between them they had 14 of the 32 rebounds, three of seven blocks and 36 of the 109 points! The back to back didn’t seem to affect them, and it wouldn’t been a game if they weren’t out there. I hope this is just the beginning of a upward trend moving forward.
Too Many Threes
I have observed a less than desirable trend this year, and that is the lack of defense from the 3pt line. It’s as if the Celtics continue to roll out the proverbial red carpet and let opponents shoot at will. They allowed Philly 14 3pt shots. I realize Ben Simmons is a part of that roster, but there should have been more pressure at the arc. If the Celtics want a legitimate chance at a title they cannot allow any team to shoot so many uncontested, easy 3s.
Overall I still believe the Celtics are a contending team. None of the losses this season have been by a large margin, and I think the curse of the slow starts has begun to lift. As a fully healthy roster is back I completely expect to see them play at an even higher level.
I look forward to my next trip to the Garden. I love the energy, I love being a part of Celtics Nation and as always, I love to #bleedgreen