The 2017-18 Boston Celtics improved their already stellar early season record with an exciting game over NBA's new Dream Team, the Golden State Warriors. However, the only thing that was golden tonight was Curry's constipated scoring. Meanwhile, the Celtic's team was led by Brown's big deuces. Omg. I am so sorry to whomever reads this. Too easy; potty humor, especially potty humor puns are the lowest form of comedy. We'll talk more about Brown's high notes later. (Giggles)
This win for the Celtics was HUGE. Not how President Donald Trump says “UGE”, NEVER how Trump says “H-UGE”, but this was a big Win, Bigly. (Stop it Jules, this ain’t about politics either). Ok politics and potty humor aside, the Celtics win their 14 straight to improve their record to 14-2; AND they did it all tonight against the defending Champs the Golden State Warriors. Had the Celtics lost, I would have written this article up with a theme of the future (kids) vs the current men (kings) of Basketball. Seriously, the Celtics should not have won this game. They simply shouldn’t have. Marcus Smart scored 1 point tonight and only had 3 assists. Smart isn’t known for his high field goal percentage (28% in 2017 down 7 points from his career 35.2% average), but tonight he almost blew it for us. Keyword: ALMOST. A win is still a win and this one was exciting until the final seconds where the Celtics secured the lead and the 4-point, 92-88 win over the Defending NBA Champs.
This game almost makes you feel like we have a chance against them in the playoffs. Almost…
This is a night where Stephen Curry ONLY scored 9 points, where Curry was cold from downtown going 2-9 behind the arc. This was a game where Durant ONLY scored 24 points and where their team as A WHOLE scored less than 90 points, the fewest they’ve scored all season snapping their 7 game win streak. The Warriors had averaged 121 points a game during their 7 game win streak. The Celtics only averaged 103 points per game during their 13 game win streak entering tonight. The math just did not add up yet, but the Celtics were at Home in Boston tonight and they had Balls.
We learned and confirmed a few crucial things tonight.
First, let’s give a well deserved Shout out to my boy Jaylen Brown, as I said in the previous post, this guy is so slick and so talented, that steal and dunk in the first quarter, his stellar defense, leading the team in points (22) which included 3 key shots from behind the arc. I’ll keep saying it until he proves me wrong, he is our best 3-point shooter on the team. If Rozier can step it up and become a wing threat that can also burn you with his speed in the paint… man oh man.. This team is scary good. Not only do they have youth, but they have Brad Stevens! On most nights this year, you can expect to see Kyrie Irving leading the team in scoring, but I’m going to flip out when Brown breaks out for a 30 or 40 point game. Just give it time, you’ll see. Brown and Rozier are my picks to go nuclear on a team on any given night.
Second, Al Horford is the glue that keeps this team from collapsing. He shot a crazy 63% from the field and made an insane right rook shot with the shot clock completely expired. Not many people can make that shot under pressure, packed stadium, volume at 10. His 18 points (while missing all this 3-point attempts) were absolutely clutch. Horford has actually been very good behind the arc this year with 48% made (13 points higher than his 35% career average). It just doesn’t look pretty when anyone 6’ 10” makes lankey 3-pointers. But no hate on Al, Big game Al, he’s a veteran player that is great for team chemistry, scores points, doesn’t give away possessions and he led the team tonight with 11 rebounds. I’m not getting his Jersey anytime soon, because he’s more of a journeyman than a core-4, but I can 100% say the Celtics wouldn’t play at such a high level without him. Especially if Marcus Smart is going to have the occasional off-night, growing pain, we need Al to keep us level. Al is the bran muffin of the NBA.
Third, Jayson Tatum has a sweet layup. I saw this in the game versus the Lakers, I saw it again tonight, Tatum can attack the rim with great body control and toss it in against the glass. Now, I haven’t really observed yet if this attack is one sided, meaning only right or left side of the court or only with the right/left hand. I’ll try to pick that up the more I watch him, but for now, I’m very comfortable with him attacking the paint. His +/- was a -18, so I’m not sure what he did wrong to warrant a bad statistical game, but he cemented the game with 2 free throws in the final minute and although he only made 2 field goals all night, he somehow scored more than Curry. Don’t expect that to be a trend, EVER, this year, but I’m not going to complain at all if it continues.
Fourth, Kyrie Swer-ving. Irving has mad skill yo. I was excited to see how he’d perform with the mask on. Not as good as Jim Carey, but better than DiCaprio. As I posed in my last post, I really wanted to know who would get the ball with the game on the line. Tonight that question was answered, give the ball to Kyrie. Even if he doesn’t take the last shot, pull back jumper black mamba style, he did a very veteran drive to the paint to get the foul which tied the game when he made both free throws. Irving only scored 16 points, and only shot 25% from the field, but he was good enough. He’s only going to get better as he heals, and it’s going to be exciting watching the-next-man-up philosophy preside until Kyrie morphs into a superstar. But in my opinion, while many want to give Kyrie that status already, especially since he was mentored (presumably) by the King Lebron himself, I don’t think their relationship was that amicable. Not that he couldn’t have excelled in Lebron’s shadow, but Kyrie likes to dribble, likes to be that guy with responsibility, and he couldn’t be that guy with Lebron next to him demanding the respect he’s rightly earned. That’s why Dwayne Wade requested to play off the bench, so that when Lebron rests, Wade could come in and remind people that he still got game. But neither Wade nor Irving are complementary pieces, they are protein, they are the meat dish even though Kyrie went Vegan. Right now, Irving can be happy because he is the big dog in Boston, but I’m wondering, what if… Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier and/or Jayson Tatum develop faster than him? Will Kyrie be all pissy again? Or will things be cool as long as he’s the one with the ball with the game on the line? Maybe the snobbery was just a symptom of playing next to the king, a noxious cloud of negative energy. I don’t see that being an issue. One, because Kyrie is going to get better. As long as he stays healthy, you can count on him for nearly 20 points a night. No matter how good his teammates get around him, it only makes Kyrie better because the opposition will have to figure out who to stick their best defender with, making Irving’s already stellar one-on-one abilities much more pronounced.
That’s why I love this team. Al Horford and Aron Baynes can mentor Irving who can then mentor Smart, Rozier, Brown and Tatum. What’s great about this team is that the top of the hierarchy is not both their oldest and best players. Plus, besides some weird flat earther comments that I pray are just jokes, there isn’t any Lavar Ball-esque controversy. It’s all smiles today in Boston, as it should be, they deserve it.
With a 107-96 Win over the LA Lakers, the Boston Celtics win 10 in a Row led by a career night by Center Aron Baynes. Baynes, 31 years young, had spent his last five years in the league split between the Spurs and Pistons respectively. This is only the fifth time in his career that Baynes has led his team in scoring! 6' 10" and 260 lbs, Aron seemed to be at the right place at the right time, attacking the paint, rebounding and even a few explosive dunks*. With Al Horford out due to NBA's concussion protocol, Baynes really lifted this "improvising" Celtics team with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while shooting 66.7% from the field. Plus, Horford's absence gave us an extended look at German center Daniel Theis, and he look good! Theis, a 25 year old rookie, scored 8 points with 5 rebounds, while sporting the awkward t-shirt under jersey look. Regardless, I prefer both of their looks than how Kelly Olynyk lacked any kind of intimidating swagger.
I say "improvising" because they squandered a 21 point lead with momentum seeming to slip until a few clutch shots by Kyrie Irving, who finished with a respectable 19 points but with only 1/3 of his shots going in. Kyrie was clutch when we needed it, and I am sometimes speechless at the beautiful layups, with precision dribbling through traffic.. it's just WICKED. But... Kyrie was off today... only 1 out of every 3 shots went in, and he laid a big goose egg beyond the arc. Seriously, he was 0-7 on 3pt attempts... that doesn't leave you with a good feeling, but most fans, especially after a W, will just shrug it off as an outlier.
What really made me feel good about watching this game, besides Tatum's slick steal early in the game before departing with an ankle injury, was the play by Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. Smart continues to play smart basketball (no award for this obviously overused pun). He fights hard for loose ball and he's becoming the selfless player that we wished Rondo would become. Yes, smart didn't shoot well, 3 for 11, but he led the team with 6 assists. Smart, a 1st round Pick (6th Overall) in the 2014 draft, is still only 23 years old. Smart, Rozier, Irving, Tatum and my boy JAYLEN BROWN, are a young and talented core. Sure, I'm not expecting any of these kids to put up Lebron or even last season Isaiah Thomas numbers, but they have time to a Dwayne Wade (Smart) or Jimmy Butler (Brown).
This is no longer the team that has to rely on flukish performances by Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Olynyk, Brandon Bass and Jae Crowder. And for the record, we never expected the last two, Bass and Crowder to carry us for any stretch, but they were our Smart, Rozier and Tatum. I'm a short guy, 5' 7" on a good hair day, and trust me, no one else loved seeing Isaiah Thomas at 5' 9" weave in and under people. But when it came to the postseason, we were small!!!! Irving gives us an extra half a foot with time to grow.
AGE: Bass- 31; Bradley 27; Crowder 27; Thomas 27; Green 31; Rondo 30; Olynyk 26.
Irving 25; Smart 23; Rozier 23; Brown 21; Baynes 30; Tatum 19;
Tell me this doesn't make you giddy for the next 5+ years. If we can keep this core together.. yes, guys like Baynes, Horford and Morris will come and go as they impart veteran guidance to these young kids, but with your oldest player Al Horford at 31, everyone is still fresh. This isn't an aging Cavaliers with an average age over 30!! No other team in the NBA has a roster that averages that old, the second closest my guess would be the Spurs and at 28.9 I was right, just ahead of the Warriors at 28.8. 28 is the prime peak year. It is the year I will turn in just 3 short days. But the Celtics are among the youngest in the league with an average age just over 25 years old. The Celtics have youth and just won the division last year. The Celtics can handle the marathon, they have enough players capable of scoring 15-20 on any given night that putting up 100 points seems easy. What the Celtics need to worry about is whether they have that playmaker that can make the Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant-esque game winning shot with the clock winding down. Tonight, Kyrie made some clutch shots in the fourth quarter, but he wasn't black mamba, nor mini-lebron. That's why I wanted the Celtics to trade down and draft Dennis Smith Jr., HE is fun to watch. But this team adapts and it will be interesting to see how Brown, Tatum, Irving, Rozier and Smart mature in high pressure situations.
Do you want to give the ball to Smart and hope when he drives the rim he'll get fouled? Do you want to give it to Irving to tie up people with his dribbling skills? Who has the dunk authority? My money on the long run is on Rozier. Something about this guy man.. great guy to have alongside Smart. Also always seems to be in the right place at the right time. I see Brown turning into a more advanced version of Ray Allen. I think with the eye test he has some of the better 3pt range on the team. Irving, i don't know will he reach the next level or will one of the kids surpass him. If Irving turns into Derrick Rose, no doubt fans will be disappointed, because Rose never really became an Elite franchise difference maker that he was predicted to be.
I'm not sure what the extent of Tatum's ankle injury is yet, but he seems like a great pick so far. Eyes open, confident, playing good defense. No complaints, just stay healthy.
Ok enough jabbering. I'll do another post about why I like this team later. I had originally spent 2 hours writing a comparison to the Bulls, Lakers and Spurs; the last generation of dynasty teams. I'll re-write that tomorrow.
10 in a row! Feels great. Up next: game lucky number 13 against the Hornets on Friday. Talk to you then.