The new year has not been kind to the Boston Celtics. They’ve played four games in 2020, all against sub-.500 opponents, and have managed to win only two. Last night’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs was exceptionally frustrating for a number of reasons.
1. First-quarter blues
The common denominator in the four games has been falling behind – waaaaaayyyyyyy behind – from the start. Some of the deficits the Celtics faced in the first quarter of each contest: 29-11, 18-6, 26-17, and last night 22-3.
Versus the Hawks and Bulls, the Cs regrouped and went on to grab wins, but they never recovered in the last two outings against the Wizards and Spurs. In fact, in the 96 minutes of those latter two games, Boston never once held a lead, not for a second.
Brad Stevens and some of the players admitted last night that they just haven’t played hard enough lately. That is very troubling. In the NBA, if you don’t compete with all your will, at 100%, you will lose. It won’t matter if your opponent has a bad record or is shorthanded or is on a losing streak.
The Celtics have just been given that harsh lesson. They play again tonight on a tough back-to-back at Philadelphia. We’ll know in the first quarter if they’ve learned anything.
You know what else didn’t help last night? The Celtics missed 9 of their first 10 shots, on their way to shooting 8-of-20 (40%) for the first quarter. Meanwhile, the Spurs made 7 of their first 10 attempts and shot 16-of-25 (64%).
3. Do better, refs
Even if you didn’t watch the game, you’ve probably seen this by now.
The reaction of most is that the young ref went too far. He needed to walk away or have thicker skin and not eject one of Boston’s top players. Kemba isn’t Rasheed Wallace; he’s a pleasant guy who had never been tossed from a game in his life. He should’ve been allowed some slack.
And really, the worst part was that the Celtics were in the midst of making an huge comeback. Down 18 at halftime, they were on a 15-4 run to get within 7. The Garden was rocking. It was exactly what the fans had paid big money to see – until they were cheated out of it. The Spurs took 5 free throws on that one possession and snatched back all the momentum. Ballgame.
4. Tatum’s inside shooting
Jayson Tatum is averaging 20.9 points per game this season, but it seems like he could easily reach 25 ppg if he could just finish better around the rim. His shot chart for the season shows he’s made 51.3% of those attempts, well under the league average. Last night he missed 4 of the 6 shots he took at the rim.
I don’t know what the answer is, but Tatum figuring that out is the key to him becoming an elite scorer.
5. Don’t do it
During the Kemba incident, a dumbass fan heaved an alcoholic beverage can onto the Garden court. It was apparently mostly full, landing with a loud thud right next to the Spurs’ bench. Thankfully, it missed everyone. The moron was arrested and will probably be banned from the building.
In the year 2020, how is someone that stupid or drunk, throwing away booze that probably set him back $10 or $12? It makes your fan base look bad and, worse, could cause serious injury. Plus, with all the cameras and security in arenas today, you won’t get away with it.
Don’t be surprised if the Garden changes its serving process from now on and pours those cans into plastic cups.