The Boston Celtics are still miles from the team everyone expects them to ultimately be. But tonight for the first time since the opener, we at least caught a glimpse of it.
After sleepwalking through the entire first half the Celtics beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 101-95 thanks to a 40 point 3rd quarter and a 16-1 run to close out the game.
Again not perfect but there was plenty to like and as head coach Brad Stevens said after the game “we finally looked like ourselves again.”
What We Liked
For one, shots falling. The Celtics were ice cold in the first half – despite getting a lot of open looks – going 0-for-11 from behind the arc. Head coach Brad Stevens admits that he could see his team getting tight as the misses piled up and that caused them to stop moving the basketball.
“We stopped moving the ball, and we stopped trusting the next shot would fall. We just have to do that,” Stevens told reporters after the game.
Almost as if a switch was flipped the Celtics started moving the ball better in the 3rd quarter starting with a three pointer from the corner by Gordon Hayward (his only FG of the game) and then they were off. The C’s dropped a 40 spot in the frame going 9-of-14 from downtown. Al Horford alone hit three 3s in 41 second span brining the Celtics to within 6 after trailing by as many as 16.
Al Horford connects on his 3rd triple in the last 3 @celtics possessions!
— NBA (@NBA) October 26, 2018
Mook was terrific off the bench both scoring and on the glass playing for a large stretch in the second half as a second unit small-ball 5. Morris ended up with 21 points (4-5 3-pt FG) and 10 rebounds including a 3-pointer with 28 seconds to play that gave the Celtics a 3 point lead.
It’s becoming an afterthought at this point but Tatum is and continues to be the team’s most consistent offensive weapon. His scoring kept the team from getting buried in the first half and for the 3rd time in 5 games Tatum led the C’s in scoring dropping a team-high 24 points including another superstar posterization. Paul George the victim this time around.
Paul George: 9 PTS, 3 REB
Al Horford: 6 PTS, 5 REB
— NBA (@NBA) October 26, 2018
What Not to Like
Jaylen Brown continues to look lost. He clearly doesn’t know his place in the offense as the clear cut 5th option in the starting 5. In his last 3 games he has shot 2-9, 2-9, 1-8 scoring 7, 5, and 6 points respectively. Tonight he played his fewest minutes of the season (24) and got benched for the final 4:35 during which the Celtics turned a 7 point deficit into a 6 point win. Jaylen finished -11 on the night, second worse on the team to….
Gordon Hayward: There really isn’t much to say here. Gordon Hayward may at some point return to being a productive Basketball player but right now he’s just not fitting in and the team is generally better when he’s not on the floor. Hayward (who is still dealing with daily angle soreness following surgery) lacks the explosion or athleticism to take it to the rim or create space to get his shot off right now. He went 1-5 from the field, 1-4 from deep with his only field goal coming to start the second half. He was on the bench during the critical stretch in the 3rd quarter when the Celtics roared back from 16 down to take the lead, and he was also a spectator (along with Brown) as the C’s closed on a 16-1 run. He finished -13 in 24 minutes of action.
Marcus Smart’s Thumb
Yeah, the surgically repaired one from last year. Smart hurt it and had to leave the game for a spell. He came back with the thumb taped and was part of the Celts closing unit. He scored only 2 points but finished a plus 13 in 21 minutes. Who needs a thumb anyway?
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