By no means warmed up: 10 Takeaways from Boston Celtics-Phoenix Suns


1. On a fully frigid evening in Boston, issues had been freezing inside TD Backyard too. The Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns by no means fairly discovered the taking pictures contact, however Phoenix discovered their vitality to drag away from Boston a few completely different instances.

At factors in each halves, the Celtics regarded like they had been sleepwalking by way of the sport. Joe Mazzulla known as it “inconsistent execution”, whereas Jaylen Brown mentioned Boston was “going by way of the motions”. Both method, it was an annoying efficiency.

For big parts of the sport, the Celtics regarded like they had been on the finish of a five-games-in-seven-nights stretch or one thing. In these conditions, a workforce having low vitality is comprehensible.

However Boston was within the midst of a stretch the place they performed two video games in per week. The Celtics performed the Los Angeles Lakers final Saturday, then had three days off earlier than crushing the Brooklyn Nets. This sport got here on the common one-day of relaxation, however Boston now has the weekend off earlier than subsequent enjoying on Monday. Meaning from Sunday to Sunday, the blokes in inexperienced can have performed simply two video games.

And which means there isn’t any excuse to play with out vitality.

2. Jaylen Brown has had a terrific season. His scoring sport is the perfect it has ever been. It’s approaching a stage the place he’s pretty much as good as anybody within the league at placing up factors. He’s additionally rebounding higher than ever and rounding out his playmaking sport.

On the opposite finish of the ground, Brown is at his finest when he’s on-ball or pressed right into a ball-denial function above the break. He did an exquisite job of denying Stephen Curry the ball in Boston’s win over the Golden State Warriors a number of weeks in the past.

However when Brown is requested to easily guard his man away from the ball, issues like this occur far too usually:

Deandre Ayton had accomplished the entire Suns scoring up to now, so it’s honest to have an additional eye on him. However Brown had no concept Mikal Bridges had slid all the way down to the nook, and fewer of an concept that Bridges was reducing out of the strongside nook.

These kinds of lapses price you towards good groups. Within the playoffs, the place video games decelerate and each possession means extra, this may be the distinction between a win and a loss.

In a deserving All-Star season, and doable All-NBA yr, Brown actually wants to scrub stuff like this up.

3. The above being mentioned, Jaylen Brown was the one Celtic who confirmed as much as rating within the first eight minutes or so of the sport. Boston began out dreadfully chilly from the ground, minus Brown, who had 10 factors to open the sport.

Sadly, this three-pointer on the primary play of the sport wasn’t an indicator of issues to return, but it surely was nonetheless good play-design. Each time Jayson Tatum screens for Brown, or vice versa, good issues appear to occur:

Brown is best than ever at attacking bigs on switches, and that comes from his versatility as a scorer. When he was youthful, Brown would get the large on a change, again the ball out, put his head down and drive all the best way to the rim at 100 MPH. And it was each time he acquired that state of affairs.

Right here, Brown acquired Deandre Ayton on the change, backed the ball out and when Ayton laid again, Brown pulled up for the three:

We confirmed you Brown dropping Mikal Bridges earlier. Right here’s the distinction when he’s up and pressuring his man. Merely put, Brown is a special, and higher, defender when he’s guarding above the break:

4. The Celtics acquired down by as many as 20 factors within the first half. They finally chipped away at that to finish the half and all through the third quarter. By the start of the fourth quarter, Boston had the ball and an opportunity to take the lead. Malcolm Brogdon missed a floater and in a really actual sense, the sport was over.

We didn’t understand it within the second, contemplating there was 11:44 to play when Brogdon missed, however the Suns had been about to grab again management and put the sport away. And so they did so with a lineup that featured two Two-Method gamers (Saben Lee and Ish Wainright) and two gamers who’re solely often within the rotation (Dario Saric and Jock Landale).

Phoenix went on a 14-2 run to open the fourth quarter to push their lead from one-point to 13 factors over a three-minute stretch. Boston by no means significantly threatened once more.

This play was emblematic of the dearth of vitality all sport from Boston. We’re not going in charge Luke Kornet for Jock Landale outrunning him for this and-1 dunk, as a result of Kornet exited with some kind of damage proper after this play. However nobody else is again. That’s a middle outrunning the whole protection proper to the entrance of the rim:

Good steal by Grant Williams to begin this play, however there’s a motive coaches preach from youth league onward to by no means blind-save the ball below your personal hoop:

Landale missed a 3 right here and Boston let the ball bounce all the best way again out to him. From there, he swung it to Damion Lee who drilled a backbreaking triple:

Three performs that had been all preventable, and all helped gas a Phoenix run.

5. Associated to center video of the above takeaway…what occurred to Grant Williams?

By December, Williams regarded like somebody the Celtics had been going to have handy a giant contract to as a restricted free agent. Williams was enjoying the important thing third-big function and placing up some spectacular stats. Williams averaged 9.0 factors and 4.7 rebounds in 27.8 minutes per sport off Boston’s bench. And he did so on 52/44/83 taking pictures splits.

When the calendar turned, so did Williams’ play. In 17 video games from January 1 onward, Williams is taking pictures simply 40.2% from the sector and his three-point taking pictures has dipped to 36.2%. As well as, Williams hasn’t been almost as efficient on protection both.

Possibly it’s only a stoop. That occurs. However perhaps Williams is urgent a bit and beginning to really feel the stress of enjoying for his subsequent deal. No matter it’s, he and the Celtics must get it found out.

6. Associated to the entire above: Boston has huge issues when Jayson Tatum sits. For the season, the numbers are fairly stark.

The Celtics have an offensive score of 120.8 when Tatum is on the ground, which might be the perfect mark within the NBA by wholesome margin.

When Tatum sits, the Celtics offensive score drops to 110.3. That might rank 28th within the league, forward of solely bottom-dwellers Houston and Charlotte. That -10.5 distinction is likely one of the largest in the whole NBA amongst key rotation gamers.

The falloff interprets to the opposite finish of the ground too. Boston’s defensive score when Tatum is on the court docket is 111.3. Which is true across the Celtics general rating of fifth within the NBA. When Tatum sits, the defensive score drops to 114, which is in regards to the league common.

General, the Celtics maintain a +9.5 web distinction when Tatum is on the ground. When he’s resting, Boston is -3.7. That’s a 13.2 margin. Once more, that’s principally the largest break up for a key rotation participant in the whole league.

To place it very merely: The Celtics are nice when Jayson Tatum is enjoying. Traditionally good on offense and superb on protection. When Jayson Tatum sits, the offense is horrible and the protection is common.

7. We’ll proceed to hyperlink issues collectively right here to say: The Celtics want a wing. Boston can’t proceed to bleed factors the best way they do when Jayson Tatum sits, and so they want cowl for Jaylen Brown as nicely.

Because it stands proper now, Joe Mazzulla can barely take them off the ground, by no means thoughts resting Tatum and Brown for a sport right here and there. If Luke Kornet’s damage seems to be one thing severe, then the Celtics might want to take a look at including one other huge. However including a fourth-big to play over Kornet isn’t almost the necessity that including one other wing is. It’s actually not even shut.

8. This one is easy: For the primary time in a very long time, Boston was overwhelmed up on the glass. The Suns grabbed 10 offensive rebounds in comparison with simply three for the Celtics. That’s possible associated to that lack of vitality we’ve already talked about, as Phoenix isn’t a dominant rebounding workforce.

9. To shut with a constructive: Rob Williams seems like Rob Williams. He had a few of these “Whoa!” performs on this one.

Until you’re fast and explosive sufficient to match him, difficult Williams straight up in isolation is a foul concept:

The old-timers are going to say issues like “Invoice Russell would have tipped this to a teammate”, however each as soon as and some time, Russell admitted he would simply destroy a shot to ship a message. Williams tried to do this right here:

10. The Celtics aren’t pretty much as good because the workforce that demoralized the Nets so badly that Kyrie Irving requested for a commerce. Boston additionally isn’t wherever close to as unhealthy as they regarded towards Phoenix. They’re an excellent, however not nice workforce. And that’s high-quality, because it doesn’t seem like the NBA has any nice groups this season.

The priority for now isn’t as a lot about pushing for the 60-win mark. That’s a really arbitrary marker that doesn’t actually imply something. The priority is holding off the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, who’re each only one sport behind within the loss column.

The Celtics have six video games earlier than the All-Star break, together with ones towards each Milwaukee and Philadelphia. They’ve additionally acquired three video games towards the Detroit Pistons and Charlotte Hornets, and sandwiched within the center is a Tremendous Bowl Sunday matinee towards the Memphis Grizzlies.

Boston can nonetheless hit the All-Star break in an ideal spot, however they should handle their very own enterprise. Given the best way this season has gone up to now, it’s a great guess they’ll. And that begins once more on Monday at Detroit.



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