Celtics fans found a big, shiny win wrapped up under their Christmas trees yesterday, as the Cs broke an eight-game losing streak in Toronto. We react with five rational thoughts.
1. Jaylen Brown is on fire
Jaylen hit the 30-point mark for the third time this season, which should help his All-Star prospects. He was in a zone all day.
In 25 games played, Jaylen is shooting 51.4% from the floor, 39.1% from the arc and 75.2% (up 10% from last season) at the free throw line. He’s also made at least 50% of his FGAs in 11 of his last 13 games.
2. Second-chance points
The Celts made 50% of their shots (46-of-92) and were 12-of-14 on free throws. That didn’t leave much opportunity for offensive boards, yet they still pulled down 13 o-rebs that led to 24 second-chance points (compared to Toronto’s 4). Amazing, considering the Celtics average 13.2 second-chance points.
Individual leaders were Jayson Tatum with 4 offensive boards and Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter with 3 apiece.
3. Jayson and the refs
During the game, I tweeted the opinion that Tatum has gotten into a vicious cycle with the refs. When he feels he’s fouled but the whistle doesn’t come, he flails his arms and complains, which irritates the refs, who then ignore obvious fouls against him, which make Tatum complain more, etc.
This is one of the big flaws of NBA officiating: they often seem to make decisions based on the players involved, rather than on what actually happened. That’s why the league has a reputation for coddling superstars and why rookies don’t get calls (they haven’t “earned” them).
In the ideal world, refs would do their jobs consistently, but the reality is that players who antagonize them can get a raw deal. And that’s where I’m afraid Tatum is headed. Early yesterday, JT had a hoop taken away because he was called for kicking his leg out. There was barely any contact, but Kyle Lowry hit the floor, so…
Contrast that to this play.
Not only was there no call, the refs said Tatum committed offensive interference and were disallowing the hoop. Brad Stevens challenged and the call was reversed to defensive goaltending, but still no foul. Here are more reactions.
Tatum is not completely to blame for the reputation he seems to be developing with the officials, but he could take control of the situation by toning down his reactions ASAP. He’s a budding superstar – eventually, the calls in his favor will come naturally. That may not be right, but that’s how it is.
4. Kyle Lowry is a shameless flopper
Based on what was said above, the refs must think Kyle Lowry is all-world, because he flops like a fish and whines constantly, yet gets away with murder. We are shaking our heads.
5. Kanter at the buzzer!
At the end of the first half, Enes Kanter tried a buzzer heave that looked as bad as a 50 Cent first pitch. Of course, Twitter mocked Kanter for it, but he had the last word.