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Category Archives: Red’s Army Game Recaps

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.

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

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.
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.

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.)

Williams’ face, in particular, after the Hayward slam is hysterical:
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

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.

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.


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.


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.


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

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.

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.

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.


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.

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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Recap: Celtics take chainsaw through Hawks, earn much-needed win

The Boston Celtics needed a win badly—for a morale boost, I’m sure, but Kyrie “Fuck Thanksgiving” Irving also wanted to shut the drama-thirsty media up. Unsurprisingly, the Boston pack* has begun salivating, what with our heroes at a PALTRY 9-9 record! My LORD! It’s almost like there have been 18 games this season and 64 of them remain!!!
But seriously: The Cs spent most of this game well in control, and even their few moments of laziness didn’t undo their progress as it had in previous instances. Things were clicking from the starters to the bench, particularly Kyrie, Jayson Tatum, and Aron Baynes, whose 16 points led all Boston scorers in a 114-96 win.
It sure does help to be playing the worst-ranked defense in the NBA when you need a win. (This is by opponent points allowed per game, according to Basketball Reference; Atlanta is 25th in defensive rating.) But the Boston offense also flowed effortlessly and led to considerable more wide-open shots, ones reasonably worth taking, in the first half than the 20 they made.
After some slacking in the second quarter (see below), the third frame was another bloodbath, Celtic players tearing through Hawks like Leatherface and some unlucky teenagers. Atlanta is a young team, but even their vets like Dewayne Dedmon weren’t much help. Bird blood everywhere…for most of the quarter. Some sloppiness at Q3’s end (again, see below). But after a quick series of mini-runs early in the 4th, the Celtics established enough of a cushion to leave everything in the hands of the bench and seal the W.
On a more granular level—

Taking two of the Hawks best players—Trae Young and Taurean Prince—out of the equation during the first half was huge; they got 2 and 0 points, respectively. Young’s biggest threat isn’t his scoring, of course, but he only made 2 assists as well.
With Horford out, Aron Baynes served as roll man on P&Rs initiated by Kyrie and acquitted himself quite well, while remaining an ironclad defensive presence and a meaningful threat from deep. (Before Baynes was a Celtic, I thought he was a solid, kinda underrated bench big for the Spurs and Pistons, but I didn’t ever envision typing a sentence including the phrases “Aron Baynes” and “meaningful threat from deep.”)
Gordon Hayward continued his run of considerable effectiveness as the point wing/microwave scorer for the bench dudes. His other talents ensure he’s more valuable overall than the average microwave scorer.
MOAR *clap* TIMELORD *clap* BLOCKS *clap* PLZ. Rob Williams is still raw in a lot of ways, but almost all of his (limited) minutes have been electric. This is great to see for a rookie whose work ethic was questioned, perhaps unfairly, after the draft: He’s clearly making the most of the tick he’s given.


After the slaughterhouse 45-point first quarter, some regression was only natural. Letting the Hawks off the hook a few times is natural. Letting them outscore you in a quarter (22-16) isn’t, and I say that as someone who thinks Atlanta is much friskier than their abysmal current record indicates. When you’re in a funk, as Boston has been in recent games, you simply don’t get to take quarters off. Four made field goals in,,,,,is bad.
The lackadaisical approach returned near the end of Q3, but not as badly as in the previous quarter. Turnovers were the main devil here—

When push comes to shove, though, there are few if any individual major screw-ups to cite here. And for whatever mistakes they did make, the Cs still spent most of this game up 20-plus.
Couple of funny things—

Absurd mechanical mishaps are on my personal list of idiosyncratic NBA things, and the shot-clock wankery early in the first quarter made me chuckle. IS IT 14? 24? 5?
Not sure how I feel about SMARF with the dreads. I’d gotten used to the nappy, blond-streaked hightop fade.
Theis’s new hair, meanwhile, remains fucking horrible.

GREEN FIRE HIGHLIGHTS (These are all dunks. I’ll just say it in advance.)

Smart goes behind the back to Rozier for the JAM! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/2LYTLFJjPq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018


Tatum with the MONSTER putback! #SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/SBxlRJAbO3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018


#SunLifeDunk4Diabetes pic.twitter.com/Lojpfzoveq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 24, 2018

Box score
*Rhymes with the word “pee” plus the name of an early Nelly hit, though I’m sure Danshaughnessyfromendlessbitching has also said some dumb things.

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Recap: Celtics overcome abysmal first half to triumph in OKC

As of this evening, according to Basketball Reference, the Boston Celtics lead the NBA in defensive rating per 100 possessions and opponent points allowed per game. They are also dead last in in offensive rating per 100 and second to last in points per game. Their 2-2 record is solely based on defensive proficiency—and, in the Knicks game, a fair bit of luck. The Orlando freaking Magic torched them worse than the Raptors did, and in the first quarter of this contest vs. OKC, it looked like more of the same. Only by virtue of defense were the Thunder up by teens rather than 20-plus.
Should we be worried about this? I’m not worried, this is f—

I mean, it is fine. This is the fifth game of the season. Just because the NBA year starts in mid-October now doesn’t make any panic occurring right now less unearned. Right? Totally. Look at this pretty dunk:

[email protected] throws it down to end the first pic.twitter.com/thAaVjqBQJ
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

They ended Q1 on a solid 8-0 run and they’ve kept it within the margin of error so far in the sec—

OK, this is starting to get bad. The shots still aren’t going in; Kyrie looks like he might be feeling a tidbit of knee pain and just missed consecutive free throws, which never happens; GH isn’t even trying to shoot, though he’s rebounding reasonably and putting in serious defensive effort; Uncle Al is fouling a ton and looks kind of tired. Also Jaylen Brown’s rough start to the season might be troubling me more than anything else with this team. Only Tatum is keeping the Celtics even halfway alive. Boston is down 16 at the half—50-34 Oklahoma City—and shooting 0-11 from de—

At least Westbrook is also shooting poorly, though he basically always does that and it didn’t stop him from winning the 2017 MVP over Point Harden and God Disguised as Kawhi Leonard, because triple-doubles though—
And then, with all the sudden orgastic joy of Sir Galahad riding suddenly into the kingdom to bring peace and prosperity amid grim horrors and goat-demons named Alex Abrines, the three-pointers came. Eight in number for the quarter, beautiful as the night, terrible as the moon. Westbrook barely has more points than Stevenadamwhodrinks69beers (ask @HebertofRiffs about it) and is shooting with far less efficiency. The Celtics would, when the smoke cleared, have scored more points in the third quarter (40) than they did in the first half (34). Horford hit three triples en route to 19 in the game while Tatum nailed fadeaway after layup after free throw without seeming to attract much attention. I’m not sure quite why, but it felt like Horford and Marcus Morris were drawing defenses in more, especially the latter due to his ISO-heavy tendencies. (Tatum’s biggest highlight play came in the quagmire of the first half; more on that later.) For approximately 20 seconds, they had a two-point lead, but they were most definitely not out of the woods.
If Boston were to end up losing this game, it wouldn’t have been the worst thing. They proved they hadn’t lost their ability to regroup after messing up, something that didn’t look within their repertoire in the Orlando game. PROCESS OVER RESULTS KAIZEEEEEEEEEN. During most of the fourth, it looked like we were heading for what a smart coach—Popovich, Stevens, Spoelstra, Doc, Gentry, Kerr, Dwane Casey in the regular season—considers an instructive loss and a lesser or more insecure coach—Thibodeau, Brooks, Donovan, Scott Skiles, Dwane Casey during the playoffs—obsesses over as one does as personal slight. And given how far we’d come from that putrid first half, that would’ve been OK.
Then this happened.

TIE GAME. pic.twitter.com/29y5r1EwTB
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 26, 2018

That’s why Danny brought him here, and paid what it cost to do so. That’s why he will in all likelihood pay Kyrie the five-year, $188 million max. He made one of the most famous three-point shots in NBA history, and may well make several more of massive importance. He had the aptitude and confidence to note how OKC started to tear itself apart—once again failing to run an organized offense in deference to Russell Westbrook on full-tilt hubris—and shred a defense for a gorgeous floater.
Credit where due to the actual go-ahead shot, though:

Marcus Morris = CLUTCH! #CUsRise pic.twitter.com/uj9qxxTULv
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) October 26, 2018

Free throws by Morris and Horford put icing on the cake, 101-96. Tatum kept them from ruin during the game and the veterans sealed it, but the whole squad had to recover to ensure the W.
In summation:

“the weak should fear the strong”-Kyrie Irving-1844
— joylesspud (@joylesspud) October 26, 2018

Box score

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Recap: In which the Magic pester the Celtics into a loss like a long-armed mosquito swarm

The Orlando Magic are the bane of my existence. They haunt me. I loved Penny Hardaway as a kid, and then he got injured and was never the same, and Shaq went to L.A. (I didn’t get to appreciate Grant Hill. Fuck Dwight Howard and fuck Hedo Turkoglu. Just because.)
Also, I find myself not infrequently writing about them, because they also appear to haunt the Boston Celtics. The Cs have given up first halves or entire quarters to this hapless, permanently rebuilding, shell-of-its-former-self, education-destroying-DeVos family-owned squad before getting themselves together and winning (14 of the last 15 home games vs. Orlando have been wins). This time, they didn’t, losing 93-90 in a contest far worse for the Celtics than those final numbers would suggest.
No getting around this: The Magic kicked the Celtics’ asses for the entire first quarter of this contest. Boston’s defense was a perfect crapstorm of disorientation and sloppiness, which stemmed in large part from Orlando’s clear size advantage against an Aron Baynes-less Boston, which Nikola Vucevic exploited to a T. The offense was poor as well, even with a last-second recovery off a Terry Rozier triple to make the frame margin a not-entirely-embarrassing 28-19. It easily could’ve been way worse.
Kyrie Irving is no longer wearing his headband, and because I am an inveterate lover of the occult, I choose to assign this choice credit for his notably improved performance in the second frame. His scoring game is clearly not where it should be, and he knows that; I’m sure it’s driving him just as nuts as the most vocal fans. But he started slow as a scorer last year, too, before getting into rhythm with this team. If he’s at like, 17 points per game in two months, then we get worried.
In any event, Kyrie removed the headband and decided he wanted to live in Marcus Smart’s shoes for a while. This was to excellent effect, as he began diving for loose balls, stealing aggressively and generally looking angrier. Combined with serious all-around effort from Al Horford, Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart, the Celtics came back with much more commitment on both sides of the ball and brought themselves within three of the Magic at the half—48-45 with 24 minutes left.
Magic power forward Jonathan Isaac is clearly attempting to take up the mantle of A.C. Green with his fervent interest in pro-abstinence education. All things being equal, this is an opinion Isaac is 100 percent welcome to have, but I have jokes to write and I’m displeased by the final result of this game. To wit: Is Isaac dunking and fiercely rebounding as an expression of his anti-sexual asceticism? Moreover, does he know about the satanist, alcoholic Magic fan who once threw a spent bottle of liquor at stalwart emo-revival band You Blew It! Have they both bathed in the blood of the lamb?
In all seriousness: Isaac was a big part of why Boston ended up taking the L tonight, as his truly impressive wingspan facilitated a ton of Orlando rebounds, blocks, deflections and general defensive obstructions. Between him, Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Mo Bamba, the Magic were able to take full advantage of their one unadulterated strength, and the Celtics had no clear answer for it. If not for a burst of intensity on both sides of the ball (one that still ended up being too little too late) and a strong second-half showing by Kyrie, this easily could’ve been a blowout. No doubt, the Cs have plenty of adjustments to make in practices and games to come if they want to be a title contender for reasons beyond a conference default.
Every once in a while, Kyrie does an almost-dunk:

Kyrie with the hangtime! pic.twitter.com/D6t9Hziwx3
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

GH’s shot seems to be improving:

Hayward from the corner for his third 3-pointer of the night! pic.twitter.com/foLiDcLhxS
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

If the Celtics had played like this all night, they easily would’ve won. Fantastic ball movement:

Solid ball movement gets Marcus Smart open for the trey! pic.twitter.com/nuu7TYjR6i
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 23, 2018

Box score

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Recap: Celtics Lose Early Grudge Match with Toronto

Well, you can’t say that wasn’t entertaining.
Boston commanded the lead for much of the game but ultimately surrendered it for good in the third quarter. The newly-acquired Kawhi played as though last year never even happened – he exploded for 22 second half points and ultimately propelled his team to a crucial 12-2 run at the end of regulation to secure their victory.
Gordon Hayward showed improvement and the Kyrie/Jayson duo looked deadly at times, but the Celtics just couldn’t get it together defensively, allowing 95 points to Toronto over the final three quarters. Boston now falls to 1-11 in the last 12 games played in the Great White North. Their last win there? April 4, 2015. Yikes.
Final Score: 113-101
The Game Flow

(Yea, I’m doing a Gordon Watch – what of it? He’s our new toy. Except we actually have had this toy for over a year, we just had to watch him do nothing in the box (not play basketball) this whole time so it makes the first few times playing with him that much more fun. Let us have our fun, man.)
Stop me if you’ve heard this before but Gordon is clearly still getting into form, and that’s to be expected. He received the ball off of the tip, quickly picked up his dribble near the arc, then threw a lazy pass that was easily picked off by the lengthy Leonard. G missed a straight away three shortly thereafter, but –on the bright side– he held his own and forced a miss from Ibaka after a switch forced him to defend the low block; then he hit a pull up two in transition in back-to-back plays. Sure enough, that jumper seemed to give him the confidence he needed- about a minute later Gordon took the ball hard to the rim against Lowry for a layup.
He played solid through out the game but was still limited in his minutes. It was a better showing then the first game, but his first memorable or noteworthy play didn’t come until the fourth quarter, when he showed flashes of the Hayward of old. He dribbled through his legs, gained leverage on his defender, and attacked the basket with a short blast we’ve yet to see from him with any consistency. G was fouled as he finished at the rim, and he hit the FT to inch the Celtics within a possession.

He finished with 14 points (6/13) while grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing 2 assists in just 24 minutes. Check the bottom of this article to hear how great he felt during the second half tonight.
The Game Flow, But Really This Time
Hayward’s errant pass put the Celtics in a brief hole early, but Horford eventually gave the Celtics the lead back after his first shot rattled around the rim a few times before sliding in for 3. Gotta love a good rim job. Later in the quarter he cut into the lane and slammed home a double-handed dunk, PLUS the foul, with a seldom-seen ferociousness.

BIG AL pic.twitter.com/U8PwKGPZLm
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

When he decides to go hard against his defender like that- hooooo-boy, look out below. He picks and chooses his spot because you can’t go full-DadHulk like that every night- it’d be too dangerous. Everyone knows that.
The Celtics defense remained pedestrian. I don’t believe a lot of these ugly mistakes will be occurring much longer, though; things like Jaylen Brown going under a screen to allow a 3 from Kyle Lowry won’t happen later in the season or in the playoffs, so I don’t see our “average D” as reason to worry- yet. The Raptors’ length contested seemingly every shot, but the Celtics went on a 9-1 run to end the first quarter with the lead, 25-18.
I’ll put money on both Boston radio hosts and National Hot-Take Artists (the only difference being salary and the amount of exposure one gets vs. the other) saying Tatum and Kyrie both “suffered” from there only being one ball on the court during the first quarter. They’ll be saying it all season because sharing the ball isn’t as interesting as playing ball-hog or stat-padding. They had combined for “just” 7 points on six FG attempts, but each added hustle on defense and even earned stats in other columns; such as 3 assists for Kyrie and 3 rebounds for Tatum. The pair wouldn’t be held down offensively for long, though.

[email protected] buries the triple to end Q1! pic.twitter.com/V0nWTr6Spm
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

They got back to shooting and silenced the narrative by ending the half tied for the team-lead with each registering 9 points on 4 of 9 shooting from the field. Tatum also continued his impressive defensive effort, even after he got beat off the dribble by VanVleet once, his effort never waned. He hustled to the rim and used his elastic-man-ass arms to save him with a well-timed block from behind.
Q2 was fun overall. The Celtics went on a 11-2 run in the final few minutes mostly thanks to staunch defense by Rozier, Morris, Brown, Irving, and Horford. Then, the last :14 seconds happened and everyone went crazy for a little. Kyrie hit a beautiful layup, then Horford swatted the shit out of Lowry, who thought he had an easy 2 at the rim. The loose ball goes to Terry Rozier, who fumbles it to a wide open VanVleet, who then drilled the three right at the buzzer. All within :14 seconds, no timeouts. I’d say it was unbelievable if it didn’t make so much sense within this game. The score going into half was now 53-49, Celtics.
Ibaka led the way for the bad guys with 13 points at half. Leonard had only 9 points up at this point, with the bulk of them coming on dribble-drives to the hoop. Obviously Kawhi is the big pick-up for the Raptors, but can we talk about Danny Green for a moment, please?
The Raptors def only wanted Leonard but were like, “oh you’ll throw in Danny Green, Finals Champion, as well??” – He’s your quintessential 2-for-1 special on pizza when you were going to order out anyway. He’s those extra chicken nuggets that end up in your 4-piece at the end of a late night. He’s that unexpected free alignment that comes when you get a good deal on tires. The point is- you’re still hoping your initial purchase is sound and not a waste of money, but you gotta be happy with the deal when you look what was included in the package.
Danny Green played his normal part defending his ass off through out the night, but he really popped on offense in the third when he tied the game and woke up the crowd about halfway through. Just about a minute later he’d follow it up with another trey, and the Raptors now had their first lead in what felt like forever, 74-72. You can’t teach clutch, kids.
One of my favorite plays of the night occurred a few minutes later when Tatum stole the ball and passed to Gordon who then hit the deep ball in transition.

Tatum Hayward 3⃣ pic.twitter.com/4nOARsExtt
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

Unfortunately, the Celtics weren’t able to regain the lead before the end of the frame, and they went into Q4 down, 82-79.
After scoring just 9 points in the first two quarters, Kawhi Leonard exploded during the third and fourth to ensure his Raptors rarely trailed in the second half. Kawhi looked as athletic as ever and Toronto’s length on the defensive end is hard to beat when your stars aren’t on fire.
The Celtics made it a one possession game, at 101-99, after another Al Horford deep ball fell in with just under three minutes remaining; but Danny Green answered with another clutch three to make it a two possession game once more. The following possession Jayson Tatum was called for a charge and the Raptors were officially on a roll.

rough stretch in hindsight pic.twitter.com/3FyaJBkwzy
— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) October 20, 2018

Leonard was too hot to be stopped at that point- he finished with 31 points and was tied with Big Al for a game high 10 rebounds. Jayson Tatum nearly grabbed a double-double, he finished with 16 points and 9 rebounds; but he was left with a bad taste in his mouth after he followed up that charging call by going coast-to-coast only to get rejected by two Raptors with about a minute to go. Kyrie had a quiet team-high 20 points, but he’s yet to show that killer instinct we saw so consistently last year, so I think it’s fair to assume he’s not 100% yet and he’ll need a few more games to get there.
The Raptors answered Horford’s timely 3 by going on a 12-2 run to put the Celtics away without a whimper. Final Score: 113-101
Random Notes & Tweets of the Night
-Raptors fans- it’s way too early to chant MVP. Mostly because I think you guys were doing it unironically. Stop it.
-Baynes set a couple great screens for Tatum tonight, and there was a high-low play that worked like a charm when Smart found Baynes sealing off his defender and majestically hooking one in.
-Smart is so good defensively we don’t even think twice when he D’s up giants.

-Tatum had another great game all around save for that ugly streak down the stretch. At one point he robbed a man blind by using his go-go extender arms to reach high and swipe a pass out of the sky. Later he showed his maturity by slowing the ball and signaling to calm down when the game started moving too fast for his team at the end of the 2nd quarter.
-Hayward looked good, particularly in the 2nd half, and he said he felt like he got in a zone.

Gordon Hayward said he “found something” in the second half against the Raptors.https://t.co/Cfg97bWpUH
— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) October 20, 2018

Celtics lost and jazz beating the warriors??? Good choice Gordon!!
— Jack (headband terry fan account) (@Jack_Michael17) October 20, 2018


Zion floats #Countdown2Craziness pic.twitter.com/OL9TVa8VPr
— Duke Basketball (@DukeMBB) October 20, 2018


[email protected] buries the triple to end Q1! pic.twitter.com/V0nWTr6Spm
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

JT goes baseline for the flush pic.twitter.com/KdP43Z7zVq
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) October 20, 2018

GORDON'S BACK FOLKS (@AAANe_MAnews) #AAANortheast pic.twitter.com/jxiSVmCbXh
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) October 20, 2018

Box Score

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