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Instead, the Celtics turned to a two-man Tatum/Walker game that produced just two points in the five field goal attempts in their final 170 seconds of the game. A deep 3 by Tatum was the only ‘open’ look, while he was forced into a turnaround jumper against Butler in one spot. Walker made one floater against Crowder in the paint but he also struggled to get separation on his other possessions.
This type of predictable, stagnant offense in a tight game would be understandable for a possession or two. Instead, it happened on four consecutive possessions, opening the door for the Celtics to blow a five-point lead with a minute remaining.
*Interior, South Boston Apartment, Celtics game on the TV, work laptop open but cast to the side*
Enter: Mark, visibly frustrated and barking out directions even though he is the only one in the room.
That was the scene from my vantage point as I watched the Celtics Tuesday night. Those quips I was shouting at the TV were wishful remarks of what I hoped the Celtics would do offensively with less than two minutes to go.
“Can we please get JB involved?”
“Marcus was WIDE open!”
But my pleas fell on deaf ears, and the Celtics played iso-basketball to finish the game and never really got into a legitimate rhythm, and are now down 1-0.
Walker is not playing with high confidence right now and he tried to dart towards the basket and executed a failed pump fake on Crowder, who blocked the shot. Another empty possession.
“There were several times we isolated at the slot and they did a great job of the corner defender and the wing defender who were both long in help and active in help,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “They’ve been great at that. They have probably identified that at the start of the year.
“When they put that lineup [in] at the end of the game with Jones and Butler and Crowder, they’re just so long. You’re not gonna attack them one-on-one, let alone one-on-three. So we just have to do a better job of moving the ball and getting to where we want to go. We talked a lot about that today.”
The Celtics need to go back to playing their high-flying, fast-paced brand of basketball where all five players get the ball in any given half-court set. An iso play from the hot hand when you need a bucket is fine, but Brad needs to do a better job of not making the offense predictable.
Again, it was “prevent” offense: A slow, predictable play finished with a lack of aggression. And it was the exclamation point on a five-minute stretch of sluggish offense that ended up costing Boston the game.
I do believe that water finds its level, and Brad will make adjustments for the poor performances we saw in Game 1. A repeat performance likely means down 2-0, and no one wants to see (or hear) Act II of the guy in the Southie apartment.
On Page 2… Gordon is upgraded to ‘Doubtful’
After completing a post-practice workout Wednesday, Hayward was upgraded from out to doubtful on the Celtics’ injury report for the first time since suffering a grade III right ankle sprain in the first game of the playoffs 30 days ago.
Hayward was initially ruled out for four weeks before resuming basketball activities, which was considered an optimistically fast recovery from this severity of an ankle sprain. A return by the end of the Eastern Conference Finals for Hayward, who broke his left ankle almost three years ago, was considered a best-case scenario.
This is the type of optimistic news Celtics fans wanted to see after Tuesday night’s performance. While his earliest date of return would be for Game 3, Hayward would provide a much-needed boost in the ball-handling and floor-stretching departments.
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