Due to the lateness of this post, I’m intending not only to look at what went wrong last night in D.C., but also what could help prevent such things from occurring in tomorrow’s game at home against San Antonio. Let’s roll:
The Ish Smith thing was a fluke—in part.
As noted in the Rapid Recap, D.C.’s backup point guard—whose longest tenure with ine team is a three-season run in Detroit a.k.a. THE 10TH FRANCHISE HE PLAYED FOR IN 8 SEASONS—scored 27 on lights-out shooting. This is, I assure you, not his norm. He took a fair number of shots that, as a defense, you want opponents taking: long jumpers and contested triples. (Worth noting he only made one of said triples.)
Where he burned the Cs was in the paint—and this is the real issue. That’s where guards of his style really cook, either as drivers, cutters or facilitators. Facing players like Dejounte Murray and Derrick White against the Spurs tomorrow, the Celtics will have to be much more careful in the restricted area. Lock that up, keep wings focused on the outer limits of the perimeter and, frankly, let DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge score like, a combined 50 on long 2s. Chances are that won’t be enough for Gregg Popovich’s uncharacteristically uneven squad.
Two typically reliable key contributors had bad nights.
It happens sometimes. It was particularly bad last night:
Jaylen was shooting far recklessly than he usually does. He seemed frustrated in a way he hasn’t for some time, and it led him to chucktastic offense and defense that alternated between frenetic and lax.
Smart was…being Smart, trying to will the Cs back into the game with Combat Muscles, Grit and Wild-Ass Triples. Unfortunately he’s been kinda off on those over the most recent stretch of games; it’s one aspect of his game that is still a bit rusty.
Both of these dudes will have more intense defensive assignments in San Antonio, against DeRozan, Murray, White as well as Spurs bench stalwarts like Rudy Gay. Put this game’s frustration in the rearview and prepare for a tougher (albeit still flawed) team.
What. The Hell. Was Happening. On Defense?
I singled out Brown and Smart above because I noticed them the most…but honestly, everyone was off on defense. (With the possible exception of Daniel Theis, and he had a woeful offensive night like everyone else.) While the Wizards made truly baffling switches on their own defense that they got away with, the Celtics left the paint wide open and weren’t tight on the perimeter, giving guys like Smith and Jordan McRae the confidence to shoot with abandon.
How do you fix that against San Antonio? Well, their offense is not remotely on the white-lightning level of Washington’s—it’s easy to get them stuck in quicksand. Sometimes DeRozan and Aldridge do it for opponents, at this stage of their careers. On the other hand, those dudes are superstars and likely Hall-of-Famers who still sometimes show out.
Aldridge will likely draw Theis and Kanter out from the paint, and this is a considerable problem for one of them (guess who). DeRozan is Hayward and Tatum’s responsibility; he may occasionally make Tatum think of the meme with the two Spider-Mans pointing at each other. The guards are all so mobile that they likely need to be everyone’s problem on switches, with Smart having his hands particularly full. It’s entirely doable, but they’ll need better energy for it than they had last night.
NEED KEMBA BACK PLZ.
Sometimes things are just this simple:
And right now, Walker is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game. HOORAY.
Well, on the brighter side:
Always happy to see the Tiny Sports Man shine.