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Category Archives: Red’s Army

Five rational thoughts following a weird Celtics loss in H-Town

Things I like about Houston: UGK, Beyonce, Scarface, the influence of the chopped/screwed sound on modern hip-hop production. Things I don’t like: The Celtics facing a squad in Houston led by two superstars who excel at getting to the line, both legitimately and illegitimately. Let’s look at  key aspects of what went wrong:
Officiating hellworld & the double-foul jamboree
The Rockets shot 42 free-throw attempts by comparison to the Celtics’ 25. Marcus Smart addressed it angrily in postgame comments (and may end up fined as a result; we’ll see). Now, I’m not here to litigate James Harden’s gangly, flailing Eurostep for the gazillionth time and claim it invalidates his greatness (it doesn’t), or argue against Russell Westbrook’s more restrained version of the same tactic. They’re superstars and get called as such. And Smart and the league refs have already established deep mutual antipathy due to mistakes on both sides. Saying it’s all the officials’ fault is reductive…
…but games like that make me want to! Celtics’ players usually capable of reaching the line, like Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward, were far from it much of the game, and Jayson Tatum got there for 9 FTAs but only canned 5 of them.
The tomfoolery of all this is compounded by referees’ internal confusion, as exemplified by the Robert Covington/Grant Williams double foul turned blocking foul debacle. Unfortunately, the reasoning behind that chain of events hasn’t been better explained between last night and now beyond Karalis’s thread (click through for full rundown):

So each referee apparently had a different call and neither was going to change it, so the ruling here is a double foul and a jump ball
— John Karalis (@RedsArmy_John) February 12, 2020

The defense was good—except when it really wasn’t
In much of the first half and for notable stretches of the second, Boston defended Houston quite well. Harden was only at 11 points at the halftime buzzer, while Westbrook had reached 15. Danuel House was the only other Rockets player in double digits, and the rest of the team had barely scored (a trend that the team’s victory didn’t abate). Basically, the Cs had locked down the Rockets roleplayers almost completely and were forcing Harden to earn his points away from the charity stripe…until a third of the way through Q3. Boston maintained an intensely physical defense and Harden started racking up calls by driving through it, many of which were legit. Most of the ticky-tack calls that were egregiously spurious involved Westbrook rather than his oft-vilified backcourt partner.
Houston didn’t crack 100 points until there were barely 5 minutes left in the game, which is reasonably atypical for them. This was not long after a Tatum layup made the game just 96-94 Rockets: At that point, the Cs started sprouting turnovers, misses and other stupid mistakes like weeds on their proverbial lawn, which gave the Rockets enough of a window to score 15 points in just over two minutes of play. And that was pretty much that.
Tatum’s off night
In the grand scheme of things, Tatum having a blah performance after a stretch of excellent play that began before the Celtics started the seven-game win streak that ended last evening—and was, in large part, fueling said streak—is hardly the end of the world.
But it looked really bad with the free-throw misses (and airballs) and inefficient shooting (5-for-15; 33%) . Especially because Tatum is a player who needs to be excellent against a team with the Rockets’ specific attributes. There were bright spots for Taco Jay, most of them on defense (9 rebounds, 4 steals, a lot of intense pressure), but it’s not unreasonable to say his missed shots were a big problem in a game that was often close and didn’t definitively turn bleak until its final minutes.
The coin-flip center performances
In one corner you have the 6’8″ Daniel Theis, undeniably undersized for his position but well-suited against a small-ball Rockets squad. In the other corner, it’s the 6’10” Enes Kanter, who should’ve feasted on a Rockets bench that was not only undersized but also guard-dominated and shorthanded.
Theis was remarkably effective with 11 points and 9 boards (4 on the offensive glass). Kanter was the opposite of that, with more turnovers (2) than points (0) despite only playing 8 minutes. He certainly didn’t lose the game for the Celtics but was awful and easily exploited by Houston whenever he took the floor. Compare that to Grant Williams, who played barely any more minutes (8:45) but made the most of them with 7 points, 4 boards and only 1 turnover.
The All-Star break comes at just the right time
Adding insult to the various injuries of this game, Jaylen Brown re-aggravated his troublesome ankle late in Q4. It didn’t look too bad, but the Cs might be better off keeping him out of Thursday’s matchup against the Clippers.
This break will be much-savored by a team whose five best players have rarely been at their disposal simultaneously. (Kemba and Jayson both have to appear at All-Star Weekend, but something tells me it won’t be too demanding.) When games resume, there will be greater frontcourt depth with the return of Robert Williams, and this team that’s emerged as a reasonable contender (if by no means a Finals favorite) can continue its run of expectation-exceeding quality.


Recap: Celtics beat Knicks as Kyrie miraculously doesn't change teams

In a nutshell
Remember when Madison Square Garden was lively and exciting? Neither do I! It was a slow, sluggish win after a wild day of basketball news. Just about every regular rotation player for the Celtics had a solid game against a Knicks team that was ravaged by a blockbuster mid-week trade. Final score: Celtics 113, Knicks 99.
What went right

Gordon Hayward (14 points, 5-8 shooting) threw down a STRONG alley-oop in the first quarter. It was a pretty lame 12 minutes otherwise, so it was nice to see some energy injected into the game. Jaylen Brown (11 points, 5-12 shooting) had a nice fast break dunk as well. Boston led 25-20 at the end of the quarter after trailing 13-4 early. It was a 56-47 lead at halftime.
Boston’s offense has undergone two notable changes in the recent weeks: 1) More cuts to the basket. 2) More drives to the basket. Jayson Tatum (13 points, 6-15 shooting) drove the ball aggressively throughout the first half, and Kyrie Irving (23 points, 9-20 shooting) made the most of an off-ball opportunity with a cut behind an unsuspecting defender. The NBA is in a three-point revolution, but points are still points and they’ll add up quickly if you can score them uncontested at the rim.

What went wrong

Should I be annoyed that the Celtics played down to the competition? As a Celtics fan, I fully understand the power of unproven players teaming up under unlikely circumstances to topple a formidable opponent. Regardless, this game was a little too sloppy. The Celtics have been pretty mediocre on the road all season – especially against bad teams – so I guess I can just be satisfied with the win.
Terry Rozier posted a 2-9 shooting night while getting cooked on defense. The Celtics have hit a nice stride where they can win games comfortably when everybody isn’t playing their best now that Brown and Hayward have started to come around, but I’m not too excited about Rozier slumping against the worst roster the Celtics have played against all season.

What the hell
Well, the pre-game media circus was really something, huh? I’m amazed at how much BS you can spoon feed people before they check what they’re eating. You’re telling me something happened between the Toronto game (where Kyrie grabbed his jersey and pointed aggressively at the “BOSTON” stitching) and now that made him want to leave? If you buy into misleading information that easily, then I have a border wall to sell you. I’ll throw in a DeMar DeRozan Lakers jersey for free.
Highlights

Terry throws it up & HAYWARD SLAMS IT DOWN (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/3nqsjYmYSC
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Jaylen Brown with the breakaway slam (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/r12yMoxiSS
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Jaylen Brown steal + one-handed slam (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/UKc05fjgBm
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) February 2, 2019

Box score


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Your Morning Dump… Where shhhhhhhh, Jaylen Brown is playing incredibly well

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’m having fun out there,” he said. 
And that more than anything else, speaks to the comfort level that Brown is steadily trending towards as he continues to adjust to coming off the bench after spending most of last season and the early portion of this season with the first unit. 
Brown led all scorers on Wednesday with 24 points, the second time this season he has tallied 20 or more points in back-to-back games. 
He’ll look for the three-peat on Friday when the Celtics hit the road to face the New York Knicks. 
To hear Brown talk about being happy on the floor, is great not only for him emotionally but it’s also a positive for a Celtics team that will need him to continue his strong play if the team’s goal – get to the NBA Finals – has a legit shot of coming to fruition. 
NBC Sports Boston — Celtics winning and Jaylen Brown is ‘having fun out there’
I’m going to take a break from our regularly scheduled, Anthony Davis rumor-filled Morning Dumps to talk about the oft-maligned, under appreciated Jaylen Brown.
The most we’ve really talked about Jaylen all year is when Jackie MacMullan psychoanalyzed him back in December. Her deep dive, as always, was incredibly insightful, wonderfully written and uniquely engaging, but as I read it I couldn’t help but think aloud, “oh man, this is going to wreck Jaylen Brown the basketball player.”
Obviously I’m not in the dude’s head so I can’t sit here and proclaim I was right, but Brown, already displaying unevenness in his play, went into a tailspin just after the article was published. Jaylen is a thinker — that shows in his thirst for knowledge outside of basketball, but it also shows at the free throw line where the game slows down, but his mind clearly doesn’t. He had to have read that article, where his teammates, coach and general manager all took turns discussing Jaylen’s idiosyncrasies, his potential as a basketball player and what sometimes holds him back. I think it messed with him, and we can all agree something wasn’t right when he then hit the court.
But lately? As the Davis rumors swirl, the Kyrie rumors swirl with them, and as the basketball world wonders whether Danny Ainge has the cajones to throw future all-star Jayson Tatum into an AD trade offer, Jaylen Brown is getting comfortable.
And what does comfortable look like? It looks like a future all-star in his own right. It even looks like, on the right night, a trade piece on par with Tatum in an AD trade or, if AD comes and Tatum goes, it looks like the third piece of a Celtics Big 3 in the 2020s.
Let’s be honest, Jaylen is doing some things on offense we wish Jayson Tatum would (and maybe we just wish he could because he can’t yet) do: Use strength, athleticism and quickness to get to the rim and draw contact. It just so happens that JB is now finishing at the rim with more consistency. If he’s not taking shots at the rim, he’s taking shots from the beyond the arc. And lately, they’re going in with the type of regularity they did during last season’s playoff run. When’s the last time you saw Brown take a long 2?
I’m going to stop here, because I don’t want anyone to think I’m calling Jaylen Brown the Celtics crown jewel, either in terms of what the Cs future looks like, or maybe the Pelicans’ future, but as we glom onto the Anthony Davis, Kyrie and Tatum stories, let’s show love for Brown the same way we complained about him earlier in the season.
Last thing… Tim Bontemps wrote about Gordon Hayward’s need to take a step forward in order for the Celtics to get where they need to go. Obviously, that would be great, but what if Jaylen Brown is taking that step in his place? I’d argue that if we get this Jaylen more often, the Cs are a Finals threat with or without the old Hayward.
Related links: 
Herald — Jaylen Brown steps up, leads Celtics
On page 2, where January turns to February, and the road beckons

The Celtics were home nearly the entire month, save one somewhat disastrous three-game stretch and a game in Atlanta that Kyrie Irving was forced to help the team claw through to avoid another embarrassing stretch.
The rest of the month? Smooth sailing on the parquet floor. The Celtics went 10-1 at home in January, including a rousing win over the Toronto Raptors. Their only loss was a four-point defeat at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, who have been obliterating opponents — their net rating over the last 10 games is a staggering 18.0. Boston’s net rating in the month of January: A sterling 9.8.
But the home and road numbers paint two very different stories this season. The Celtics are 21-6 at TD Garden and 11-13 away from it. At home, Boston’s net rating is 10.6. On the road? 2.2. The Celtics have yet to record a marquee victory in another building, which is a strange juxtaposition against last year when the team’s road record was actually slightly better than their record at home.
“I have no clue,” Marcus Smart said. “I think if we knew what that was we wouldn’t be having these woes and these struggles. But it’s part of the game, and I think that’s what it is if I had to get a reason I’d say it’s just part of the game. We play 82 games in the regular season. It’s a long season and things happen.”
Mass Live — Boston Celtics don’t understand reason behind home/road disparity
The Celtics played 11 home games and 4 road games in January. That was helpful, because the Cs are 21-6 at home and 11-13 on the road.
You know what’s not helpful? The Celtics don’t have another month with more home games in it than road games. So they better figure this thing out.
I’m hoping the Celtics current run of 7 out of 8 wins has less to do with an absurd 7 of those 8 games being at the Garden and more to do with the Celtics just happening to figure their shit out during that same time period.
January was about as friendly a scheduling month as a team gets in the Association. February and March especially will be less forgiving.
And finally, the Cs are off tonight, but it’s a good one to scoreboard watch

First off, disregard Nets/Spurs, I was too lazy to cut that one out. I think you can also disregard Pacers/Magic, because even if Indiana wins that one, it’s a foregone conclusion that the Cs will leapfrog them in the standings soon enough.
But one of Toronto and Milwaukee is going to lose tonight, and the Sixers are probably going to lose, too. By night’s end, the Celtics could move into the 4th spot in the east and within a half game of the third seed.
It’s also just a really fun double-header on TNT tonight.
Enjoy the hoops.
The rest of the links:
NBCSports Boston — How can Celtics get Starter Terry production when Kyrie is healthy?  |  Celtics have no problem taking sting out of the Hornets  |  Jayson Tatum’s focus amid trade rumors? ‘Control what I can control’
Herald — Celtics notebook: Jayson Tatum takes trade rumors in stride  |  Wading through the real and the drama with Celtics, AD and Kyrie
Mass Live — Terry Rozier says Boston Celtics get caught watching Kyrie Irving put on a show  |  Boston Celtics 126 – Charlotte Hornets 94: Celtics cruise to blowout after monster third quarter


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Your Morning Dump… Where Kyrie Irving issued a halftime challenge

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I think that at the half Kyrie just challenged all of us to be better — and coach, as well,” said Horford, who squeezed 18 points into 23 minutes. “And I felt like we came out with better energy, played much harder.”
As for everyone taking that kind of talk the right way, he said, “It’s very important. I think that in order for us to grow and become better as a team, if things are not right, we need to, within each other, we have to come together to find a way and understand that we all want to win. So that’s what happened tonight.”
Said Irving, “It wasn’t so much a challenge, I think — you can see it up here (pointing to the whiteboard), this is my X’s and O’s right here — just more or less just knowing kind of how the defense was playing us and also defensively what we were doing. I feel like we were pretty solid. It’s just making it a little more difficult in the second half. But offensively, it felt like they were trying to take the ball out of my hands, or at least be up to touch, and just the reads off of that. And then you saw the opportunities open up in the second half as we were being more active off the ball. Just telling these guys, as consistent as possible, you don’t have to touch the basketball every single play down to be effective. You can be effective doing the little things, and that’s what we did in the second half.”
Herald
I’m all in on Kyrie Irving the leader. Granted, he’s an over-talker but this isn’t about words.
Irving is and has been a dominant offensive player. But what’s really setting him apart this year is the defense. The guy is busting his ass and hitting the floor like we’ve never seen.
The numbers support my/your eyes. His Def Rtg (103.1) is a hair better than last season and light years better than anything he produced in Cleveland (where he was notoriously awful). Rebounds (both offensive and defensive), blocks and steals are all up. Look at any defensive metric you want and the numbers are good. He’s also sharing the ball (career-high 6.6 apg).
Speaking of assists, a huge component in last night’s comeback was the approach:
The numbers show in the second half, the Celtics attempted 18 3-pointers of their 42 attempts but were more selective. They didn’t settle for contested looks, instead opting for open looks of the flow of the offense. Only a Terry Rozier pull-up 3-pointer off a fastbreak — which missed — was the lone questionable 3-point attempt of the half.
“We just kind of hit singles on our way back and that was a good thing to do on the road against a good team,” Stevens said. “I didn’t think our offense, attention to detail, or physicality was enough in the first half, and it turned up with 20 minutes to go. We got some loose balls. We got some runouts, got down the floor, made some shots, felt better about ourselves, and gave ourselves a chance.”
Sometimes it feels like singles aren’t permitted in today’s NBA. Nineteen-point comeback wins are fun no matter how they happen, but I really enjoyed the offense.
Related: NBC – Kyrie leadership on display again
On Page 2, Yabu was exhausted.
“I thought Guerschon’s play was a big reason why we won the game,” Stevens said, closing an answer about the defense down the stretch.
Asked to elaborate on Yabusele, Stevens continued: “Energy, physicality, he blocked a couple of shots, he got rebounds in traffic, the big three that he it was great. But it’s all the other little things that we needed, so I thought he was a big reason why we went in the right direction.”
The minutes represented a new high for Yabusele, who admitted he was exhausted by the time Horford replaced him with 7:40 left.
“I’m not going to lie, I was really, really tired,” Yabusele said. “I was really trying not to think about it. Just try to have fun over there, you know? I don’t play a lot of games, so when I got some minutes I’m not going to complain about being tired or anything else. And just try to do my best every game.”
Mass Live
I’m not Yabu’s biggest fan but he impressed me last night. This wasn’t about three-point dabs or bow and arrow celebrations. This was about fundamental plays – rotations, post defense, and boxing out.
Related: BSJ – Yabu shows his potential
The rest of the links
Globe – Kyrie talks about giving $240 to a homeless man
NBC – Old friends cheer Tatum in Memphis


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Recap: Celtics pull wings off Hornets and eat them to snap losing streak

IN A NUTSHELL
This game was as close to a true must-win as the Boston Celtics have had this season thus far, because four straight losses gets to be A Thing, and not just in the alarmist Boston sports media landscape. Playing a defensive-minded Charlotte Hornets team also served as a dress rehearsal for the true test against Philadelphia coming on Christmas Day.
After a closely fought duel in the first frame between Kyrie Irving and Kemba Walker, Boston began pouring on the punishment from both ends of the floor in the second and didn’t look back. The final winning score, 119-103, wasn’t remotely reflective of the beatdown they unleashed against the Hornets in a much-needed, well-executed team win.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
Kyrie started off on a breakneck kick, with seven of Boston’s nine unanswered points in the opening minutes en route to 17 in the quarter (and 25 for the game). But the primary reason for the Celtics’ success was—BRACE YOURSELF FOR THIS SHOCKING REVELATION—returning to lineup arrangements that fueled the 8-game win streak.
There now exists too much evidence to downplay the potency of the Irving/Smart/Tatum/Morris/Horford starting five, as well as the success Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward have off the bench. (I’ve given the latter a hard time in some moments, but he’s accepted the benching without an iota of public complaint and continues to show assorted signs of resurgence, like a strong two-handed dunk in that second quarter.) Other points:

The Celtics forced Kemba Walker to work mostly alone, with Jeremy Lamb offering the only other meaningful offensive contributions. (Part of that is Charlotte’s clunky roster, but Kemba aside, they played massively out of whack by any standard.)
That 2nd quarter was the Cs’ highest-scoring frame of the season, with 39 points. At times, the lead eclipsed 30 points.
Team rebounding looked more like what it should be, a mercy after two brutal humiliations and the creator of many second-chance field goals in this game.
Horford looks like his old self and proved once again how, in many ways, he is the stabilizing spine of this Celtics team.
But Marcus Morris is currently one of this team’s most consistent two-way players, and deserves plenty of credit for bringing his own brand of muscle to the starting lineup.
Jayson Tatum continues his low-key murder streak with another 17-point performance.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Just small points:

Hayward’s shooting is still incredibly inconsistent.
Brown got in unfortunate early foul trouble that limited his playability and shot poorly, in the precise inverse of his Milwaukee performance.
Also, his attempt at a lob to the Timelord…did not go well. (Couldn’t find video, or this’d be in the section below.)

WHAT THE HELL
Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
The aforementioned Hayward jam:
Kyrie gunning:
Uncle Al and Kyrie working their magic:
For posterity, just felt like I couldn’t not include this beautiful image:

Box score


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Recap: Bucks clobber offensively challenged Celtics

IN A NUTSHELL
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks developed a mini-rivalry during the 2017-18 season, mostly in the playoffs, so this was an intensely physical and borderline chippy game.
Unfortunately, this didn’t work in the Celtics’ favor. Despite fiery opening minutes, strong intermittent rallies and a spirited (and team-high; 21 points) scoring performance by Jaylen Brown, Milwaukee established a lead about a third of the way through Q1 and never looked back, ending up with a 120-107 victory and serving Boston their third loss in a row.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

Jaylen Brown was absolutely outstanding in the second half; it may have been his best sustained performance this season.
Jayson Tatum didn’t have a great shooting night but made up for it with multiple drives resulting in trips to the line.
Boston got lucky on some very questionable goaltending calls against Giannis. If I were a Bucks fan those would have me livid regardless of score or final result. I am not, so they don’t.
Semi Ojeleye did fairly well in his first spot start, even if his offense wasn’t sustainable.

WHAT WENT WRONG

Giannis got to the line approximately, like, 69,420 times or so, and made 75 percent of those shots.
Offense was not always easy to come by for the Celtics in this one. To say the least. That said, most of this was shots simply not falling; the plays and passing and shots were not particularly bad.
Unless you were Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving. The whiteboy’s first start since his demotion to sixth/seventh man did not go well at all, and Kyrie couldn’t get into rhythm.
Defensively…just…woof. The murderous out-rebounding that was shocking but seemingly aberrant in the Phoenix game two nights ago happened yet again. This team needs Al Horford back.
Not having an answer for Antetokounmpo is one thing. Nobody does, really. The key to beating the Bucks lies in letting Giannis cook and neutering everyone else, as the Celtics did during every home game of the 2018 playoffs. Not having an answer for Khris Middleton is even acceptable, but no answer for Thon Maker’s three-point shooting isn’t.
Lacking a solution to keep Tony farking Snell from being wide open to score in double figures is absolutely horrific.

WHAT THE HELL/ASSORTED WEIRDNESS

I hate Tony Snell.
I do, however, appreciate how Milwaukee has abandoned its puzzling attachment to all white centers ever, which was a constant aspect of that roster for like the past four years. They also realized how big a mistake it was to pay Matthew Dellavedova, albeit three seasons too late.
Yabu’s purple hair was better than the platinum blond.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
JAYLEN SMASH GREECE WORSE THAN FISCAL INEPTITUDE:

JAYLEN BROWN WITH THE STARE DOWN (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/XpYJsDQ04X
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) December 22, 2018

Kyrie and Hayward looking as good as they always should:

That pass by Kyrie pic.twitter.com/VlG0md9W3A
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 22, 2018

Box score


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Recap: Celtics win streak ends with a dying screech against Pistons

IN A NUTSHELL
The Celtics’ recent win streak exists in part because of schedule strength. It would be disingenuous to say otherwise. So when the Detroit Pistons came out looking tougher and much more assured than most teams have of late against Boston, you can’t be particularly surprised, especially when you add the factor of this being the second night of a back-to-back. Honestly, it would’ve been understandable—albeit still a bummer—if this had been treated as a scheduled loss of sorts.
It didn’t look like a scheduled loss in the first half, but turned into one about halfway through the third quarter. The Pistons were hungry in the wake of a grueling six-game losing streak, and decided to end it by sending the Celtics home with their first loss in 9 games, 113-104.
WHAT WENT RIGHT

I’d call the whole first half a good thing for Boston, even though it ended with a 57-56 Detroit lead. They punched back with a mini-run whenever Detroit threw a haymaker and were never behind by more than 7 points.
Kyrie Irving (26-8-4 with 3 steals) played well for the entire game until the result was a foregone conclusion, as did Jayson Tatum.
Aron Baynes did as much to stop Andre Drummond as possible, looking better than he did last night by a considerable margin.

WHAT WENT WRONG
Know how I said they were never down by any large margin in the first half? Not so at all in the second. Detroit had a 16-point lead at one point, and turned up the intensity to a degree the tired Celtics couldn’t match.

The Pistons offense is now more contingent on Griffin than any other player, now that he’s been fully integrated into the flow of things for Detroit. If a squad can’t shut him down or shut everyone else down around him, they’re in trouble.
Boston didn’t defend Griffin well at all, and let him get to the line practically at will during the second half. The Cs also let Detroit role players like Reggie Bullock score at an embarrassing rate.
Drummond, as per usual, was a massive problem on the boards for the Celtics.
The reserves had a bad night, including Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown and Rob Williams.
Marcus Smart had an excellent night offensively and struggled on the other end, albeit while consistently trying; he tried so hard he got into early foul trouble.

WHAT THE HELL

Blake Griffin’s beard grosses me out for some reason. It looks like the kind of beard that’s intended to disguise a grotesque chin. Did his chin mutate into a strange being? WHAT IS HE HIDING? We have a right to know…
Luke Kennard’s existence continues to baffle me.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS
Kyrie making the desperation circus shot look easy:

Got the steal and the points! pic.twitter.com/sbYANNDeoY
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Tatum takes the entire Pistons defense by surprise with a smash off the Kyrie fastbreak and assist:

Tatum with the FLUSH pic.twitter.com/BmHlOvdkYH
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 16, 2018

Box score


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Nike unveils Earned Edition uniforms; Celtics’ version to debut on Christmas

When the Celtics host the Sixers in Boston on Christmas Day, they will wear yet another new version of their classic uniform. The yellow-and-white on green design is part of Nike’s Earned Edition line, created only for the 16 teams that made the playoffs last season. (Sorry, Lakers.) The Earned Edition is a variation of the City Edition uni that the Cs have worn occasionally this season.
Do you love it or hate it? Take our poll at the end of this post.

Earned, not given.
Parquet debut 12/25Retail drop on 12/19 pic.twitter.com/BjKuT3xAkg
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 12, 2018

Nike announces new "Earned Edition" uniforms for all 16 teams that made the 2017-18 playoffs. Available Dec. 19 in limited quantities before debuting on Christmas Day. No limit to how many times teams can wear them.
These are the looks from the Celtics, Cavs, Pacers & Heat: pic.twitter.com/p2bwhui2hs
— Aaron Dodson (@aardodson) December 12, 2018

As you can see in the Celtics’ tweet above, a special feature is Red Auerbach’s autograph stitched near the label – although that’s a strange place for it. NBA players must keep their jerseys tucked in, so Red’s name won’t be visible. Perhaps it would’ve been better just above the player name on the back of each jersey.
In any case, the color combo is appealing and, as always, infinitely better than anything involving grey. Below is a quick look at all the Earned Edition models.

The NBA EARNED EDITION JERSEYS HAVE ARRIVED!
Which one is your favorite?
( @NBAspain) pic.twitter.com/jcNjgdCNa2
— SB Nation (@SBNation) December 12, 2018

Take Our Poll
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Hospital Celtics return; Al Horford to miss multiple games

What remains of the Boston Celtics are in Washington to take on the Wizards tonight. Once again, the Celtics will be undermanned.

#NEBHInjuryReport Gordon Hayward (illness) and Guerschon Yabusele (ankle) have both been ruled out for tonight’s game.
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 12, 2018

The bigger news is that Al Horford will once again miss action due to pain in his left knee. According to Brad Stevens, Horford was diagnosed with Patellofemoral pain syndrome in his left knee. That is a long, ominous sounding thing, but it’s really very common. Chances are you a few of you reading this (and definitely one of us writing this) has it.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome is pain at the front of your knee, around your kneecap. Sometimes called “runner’s knee,” it’s more common in people who participate in sports that involve running and jumping.
The knee pain often increases when you run, walk up or down stairs, sit for long periods, or squat. Simple treatments — such as rest and ice — often help, but sometimes physical therapy is needed to ease patellofemoral pain.
As a long-time sufferer of patellar tendonitis and Patellofemoral pain syndrome, I can tell you that taking the time now to treat this and focus on his recovery is well worth it. It’s not necessarily an injury like taking a wrong step and straining something. It’s an overuse injury that causes inflammation and discomfort. Steps to reduce inflammation (ice, NSAIDs) and strengthening of the quadriceps will help take pressure off that tendon. They may also give him some kind of wrap to wear on his knee to also reduce pressure.
If it’s not treated, it can linger and sap some explosiveness. At the same time, the pain can be managed so if this returns come playoff time, I’d think Horford could play through it with an added treatment regimen. It really is prudent to take time off in December, especially against weaker opponents and with the Celtics depth, to attack this and get the knee right.
Of course, the plus side to this is…
© Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Kyrie Irving is not on the injury report. He says his shoulder is sore but he’ll play.


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Your Morning Dump… Where Terry Rozier wants to make the most of his free agency

Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“I’m going into my fifth year after this, so I would love to start,” Rozier said. “Nothing is wrong with being the sixth man coming off the bench, but I don’t really look at myself as that. But that’s not my main focus. Of course I want to win. I’ve been a winner all my life, coming through your program and then being with the Boston Celtics.
“I like winning. I don’t know how I can adjust if I try to take a starting job somewhere but I’m playing for an awful team and we’re not winning no more. It’s just something that I don’t think that I can adjust to — being around people that’s OK with just losing.”

“At the same time, it’s like, I still want to keep my options open,” Rozier said. “I feel like I’ve seen a lot in these four years how much a business this is. I think I should get everything I deserve.”
NESN
Jumping from a bench role on a winning team to a starting role on another would almost be too good to be true for any NBA player. Rozier had the opportunity of a lifetime to prove his worth by starting in place of an injured Kyrie Irving, where he almost helped the Celtics get to the NBA Finals. It’s a great resumé-builder, but will it help Rozier reach his goals? Can he realistically sign a lucrative deal, earn a starting spot somewhere, and contribute to a winning team? It’s possible, but it seems improbable.
As of right now, Rozier’s stock is fairly low. Whether or not it’s still “too early” to judge the Celtics, 20 games are enough to leave an impression. Teams with Rozier on their wishlist might feel hesitant because they don’t know exactly which version of Rozier they’re getting. Something about being in the starting lineup seems to flip a switch that transforms him from a mediocre bench player to an above average starter, so it might just depend if you’re a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person. That’s assuming teams will take a long, objective look at his body of work.
My prediction: not every team will do that. Jabari Parker is making $20 million this year, mind you. Who’s to say that Phoenix won’t throw the family fortune at Rozier to lock him up for a few years? Maybe they’ll get into a bidding war with Philadelphia, who are desperate to find a functional replacement for Markelle Fultz. The unpredictable Kings could make a move, too. Teams will find a way to use up their cap space one way or another, and if it isn’t used on star talent, it’ll get soaked up by players like Rozier who could theoretically energize any starting lineup. I wouldn’t rule out a return to Boston, although it would be hard to imagine him turning down the money that other teams can offer. A deadline trade wouldn’t surprise me, either.
Rozier spoke with Rick Pitino on his former coach’s podcast here.
On page 2, Mike Gorman signs for three more years

Mike Gorman just announced that he just signed a brand new 3 year deal with NBC Sports Boston. One of the best in the business is sticking around for a while.
— Toucher and Rich (@Toucherandrich) November 28, 2018

This is the best news any Celtics fan could ask for. Whether or not the product on the court is tolerable (it usually is), having Mike Gorman on the broadcast is a guarantee that watching the Celtics will be enjoyable. It feels like a long time since the Celtics weren’t competitive, yet Marcus Smart was drafted just four years ago to follow up a 25-57 season.
At any rate, I think of Gorman as my life’s personal narrator. He’s the Morgan Freeman of the basketball world. I wish he would do one of those GPS voice packs so I could hear his signature “Got it!” every time I take the correct exit.
Here’s my favorite Mike Gorman moment:

And here’s an example of my favorite, and I mean favorite, Mike Gorman mannerism:

I hope we can keep Mike for a long, and I mean long, time.
More links
Boston Herald: Celtics look like themselves in New Orleans
NESN: Brad Stevens cracks jokes about tweaking the Celtics’ starting lineup | Why Doc Rivers is still picking the Celtics to win the Eastern Conference
Boston Globe: Brad Stevens should keep Marcus Smart in the starting lineup


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