Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
This will not be Armageddon On Parquet. It will constitute 1.2195 percent of the regular season.
And it will be a hell of a lot of fun.
There will be a commotion on Causeway Street — and on national television — as the Celtics, winners of 13 straight after an 0-2 start, and Warriors meet. The locals are still essentially playing with house money as their Hayward-less and too-young-to-be-scared outfit goes against Goliath State.
The matchups, both individual and collective, will be utterly intriguing.
Just don’t expect the echoes to dance too long after game’s end.
Al Horford had a polite laugh when it was suggested the media might be getting ahead of things if it were to call this a Finals preview.
“I think so,” he said. “I’m sure that people are going to float that around, but we understand we have a long ways to go and it is still only November.”
Sheesh, Al, way to throw cold water all over this game tonight. I figured I would just set up a souped up tent on Causeway Street and stay there until Game 1 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors in June (you best damn believe the 80-2 Celtics will have home-court advantage).
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m less giddy about a potential NBA Finals preview this season and more exhilarated by the prospect of a long-term Celtics/Warriors rivalry. It may not happen this season, but if the Cs continue on their trajectory and the Warriors stay on their’s, couldn’t you see anywhere between 1-3 NBA Finals featuring these two squads over the next 5-6 years? When the Warriors have come to town the last few years, the games have felt like 2 vs. 15 match-ups in the NCAA Tournament, with Cs fans packing the Garden just hoping the improbable would happen. Doesn’t this one feel more 7 vs 10 (this analogy doesn’t really work well because if it did these teams would be just a bit under-seeded, but you get the idea)? Yeah, the Warriors are coming to town and if the Celtics play the way they’re capable of playing, they can beat them.
No, this doesn’t need to be a measuring stick game, nor will it really tell us much about how the rest of the season will transpire, but you just get the sense that these match-ups have a bit more weight to them than before because these teams and many of these players –now that the Celtics seemingly have their core of guys for some years to come– may see each other again, a lot.
Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way. I’m sure lots of people were dubbing Rockets vs. Bulls in the 90s, and Kings vs. whichever mediocre team decided to come out of the East in the early 00s as Finals’ previews, and those never came to fruition. But these Warriors vs. Celtics games that happen twice a year will continue to be circled on the calendar and broadcast across the nation for at least a handful of years to come. If we can’t have Celtics/Lakers we can at least have East Coast/West Coast. Tonight doesn’t really mean all that much, but man, am I excited for it.
On page 2, the Warriors don’t often look up
The Golden State Warriors and the Boston Celtics face each other Thursday night, and it will be a rare occurrence. The Warriors have played 322 games since the start of the 2014-15 season (counting playoffs), and all but six of them have come against teams with a worse record. Six out of 322!
Thursday will be the seventh. The 13-2 Celtics will put their 13-game winning streak on the line against the 11-3 Warriors.
Here are all the games that the Warriors have played in the past four seasons against teams with a better record than them.
Feb. 6, 2015: 39-8 Warriors vs. 41-9 Hawks
Nov. 3, 2016: 3-1 Warriors vs. 4-0 Thunder
Oct. 21, 2017: 1-1 Warriors vs. 1-0 Grizzlies
Oct. 25, 2017: 2-2 Warriors vs. 3-2 Raptors
Oct. 27, 2017: 3-2 Warriors vs. 4-1 Wizards
Oct. 30, 2017: 4-3 Warriors vs. 4-1 Clippers
Nov. 16, 2017: 11-3 Warriors vs. 13-2 Celtics
This is pretty mind-boggling. As the article mentions and I’ll hammer home, the last five of these instances were so early in the season that they can be rendered completely insignificant. Stats like these are astounding in how much they illustrate the Warriors dominance, and remind me to eye-roll Kevin Durant’s decision to join a team that was already this dynastic.
And finally, read this on the Marcus Smart phenomenon
Marcus Smart is the worst shooter in the NBA, at least right now. Of any player averaging at least 10 shots a game, Smart has the worst field-goal percentage, league-wide, at 28.1 percent. Of all players with at least 1,800 shots in their career, Smart has the 57th-lowest mark in NBA history.
It’s not just jumpers, either. Smart is shooting 36.7 percent on layups this season, 10th worst in the league. In non-postup situations, Smart is in the second percentile league-wide in shots around the rim via Synergy Sports. (That means 98 percent of the league is better.) Smart has shot 9 for 35 on unguarded catch-and-shoot jumpers, which is only slightly better than his 7-for-30 mark on jumpers off the dribble.
OK, so Marcus Smart is a terrible, horrible, no-good shooter who clearly must be a liability to the Celtics.
Except … when Smart is on the floor, the Celtics outscore their opponent by 11.3 points per 100 possessions (roughly one game). That’s 7.9 points per 100 possessions better than when he’s off the court. In other words, the Celtics jump from a solid team to an elite team when Smart is on the court.
Awesome deep-dive by noted Celtics-fan-antagonist, Matt Moore. He breaks down why it is that defenders respect Marcus Smart’s offensive game even when he’s shooting at an historically poor clip at all spots on the floor.
The rest of the links: