IN A NUTSHELL
So yeah, this series has not exactly gone as planned. At least not according to any plan the Boston Celtics might have had after Game 1, when they beat the brakes off of the Milwaukee Bucks. Even after the Bucks paid them right back with just as brutal a trouncing in Game 2, it wasn’t too alarming. Then Game 3 happened, and while it was a fairly close defeat, it was some real unpleasant medicine to swallow on home ground. We hoped Marcus Smart’s return would serve as an X-factor in the Cs’ favor.
This was far more unpleasant because there wasn’t the salve of the loss being close (the Bucks won 113-101). And the final collapse came immediately after a brief run that gave the Garden crowd hope only to snatch it away. Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped a thermonuclear bomb on the Celtics (39-16-4-1-1), getting wherever he wanted and usually to the rim—uncontested on several occasions. Combine that final wilting with a poor shooting night from Kyrie Irving (23-6-10, but 7-22 from the field) and inconsistent defense across the board, and you have yourself a foul quicksand pit of a 3-1 deficit for the Celtics. THIS IS NOT FINE.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- The invaluable contributions of SMARF extend far beyond the Brutalist architecture of his defense. Boston looked considerably more engaged even before he took the floor. They remained that way for the majority of the first half, even as the lead started to seesaw near the end of the second quarter.
- Mook Morris brought aggressiveness on both ends (18-14-2) and is one of the only reasons this defeat wasn’t much more humiliating.
- The other reasons for that are Jayson Tatum (17-9-4 with two blocks) and Jaylen Brown (16-7-2 with a steal). If Tatum had made two or three more of his shots, Boston could’ve very well won. Coulda woulda shoulda uuuuuuuuugh.
WHAT WENT WRONG
- The third-quarter curse reared its vomit-spewing head yet again. Even worse, it did so while Giannis and Khris Middleton were warming the pine due to foul trouble. (Middleton didn’t even have a good game, shooting 21 percent,
- I can be a good sport about getting beat by George Hill, a veteran PG with exemplary two-way skills.
- I will NOT be a good sport, or excuse the Celtics, for getting beat in transition by Pat goddamned Connaughton. How was Boston letting him anywhere even near the goddamn rim? YA PREP SCHOOL SONUVABITCH I DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT YOUR THREE SPORTS.
- But seriously, the second half was a soup of misery across the board. Aside from the aforementioned Morris, Tatum and Brown—and Al Horford in a few stretches, but not enough—the team just seemed splintered and noncommunicative on both ends of the floor. This led, inevitably, to the shitshow, foul-happy, miss-laden final five minutes of the game.
- While Smart definitely had to be on something of a minutes restriction, I feel like 14 was too few. (I reserve the right to retract this if subsequent reporting reveals the injury popped up again, or was even just irritating him.)
- Terry Rozier’s streak of legendarily bad shot selection continues.
This was very cool and must be acknowledged. JAY SYMMETRY: