In a nutshell
If it were up to me, both teams would be +1 in the loss column tonight. But it’s not, so only the Celtics will be assigned a loss. It was a game of runs – as basketball usually is – except this game only had bad ones. The Celtics did more stupid things than Orlando and were met with the appropriate outcome. Final score: Orlando 105, Celtics 103.
What went right
- After trailing by eight early in the second quarter, the Celtics took control and took a ten point lead into halftime. It was pretty standard Celtics stuff: the ball started to move, the shots fell, and the defense picked up.
- The Celtics typically play their best ball when a lot of different guys knock down shots. It’s hard to say if the Boston offense was actually good tonight given how often it stalled out, but Boston finished the game with six players in double figures (all five starters plus Brown) and Hayward with nine.
- There are different forms that the Celtics take on. Most famously, we have the “hospital Celtics”, who are inexplicably the best team I’ve ever seen when at least four players are injured. Tonight we had the “play like we suddenly give a damn” Celtics, which is when they decide, on a whim, to play flawless basketball when the game is ostensibly out of reach. As expected, the “suddenly give a damn” Celtics executed on every offensive opportunity and were locked in on defense. It was pretty great if you ignore all the unnecessary details such as the scoreboard and losing an almost un-loseable basketball game.
What went wrong
- The Celtics shot 7-23 from the field in the first quarter, 2-10 from three, and 3-8 on free throws. Orlando outscored the Celtics nine to one after Boston had accumulated an early lead, as Terry Rozier, Gordon Hayward, and Jaylen Brown missed all five attempted field goals coming off the bench (including a point-blank layup from Jaylen). Orlando shot just 23% yet ended the quarter in a 19-19 tie.
- Terry Rozier is having a bad time. The obvious detriments to the team are wild shots and ill-conceived passes, but the more pressing issue is that he’s being used as the wrong type of player. Whether it’s by Brad’s design or a product of failing to find his role after half a season, he hasn’t played with the swagger he had as a starter when Kyrie was injured last season. Contrary to the recent evidence, Rozier is clearly capable of getting to the rim when he wants (I’ve said since his rookie season that he’s the fastest Celtic and I stand by it). Just the other night, he opened up the game against Minnesota by blowing by Karl-Anthony Towns with ease. I have no idea why he chooses not to drive to the basket as a bench player, but that’s just the world we live in.
What the hell
I don’t even know, man. I like saving this section for ranting about things that I’m Mad Online about, but I can only say that this game is just another manifestation of obvious problems without obvious solutions.
We know the Celtics have been inconsistent. We know they struggle to play on the road. We know that certain players don’t look comfortable with their role. These things did not change.
They’ve generally been better as of late, and the big win over Indiana felt like everything was going to work out. A big win over Toronto a few weeks prior felt the same way. I’m sensing a pattern here.
At any rate, it’s back to square one. My main criticism is consistent with many others: some of these lineups just don’t work. But what do we want Brad to do? Run the starters into the ground in road games against sub-.500 teams? Every game feels like feast or famine when the Celtics would do just fine to find the middle ground. Two more minutes of solid basketball would have gotten the job done.