No consistency: 10 Takeaways from Boston Celtics-New Orleans Pelicans
1. It’s a stretch to say Brad Stevens was inspired by his crew’s protection, after they allowed the Pelicans to shoot 50% from the sphere. But Stevens wasn’t discouraged both. In earlier video games, Stevens centered on the Celtics lack of effort, particularly when it got here to closeouts and contesting pictures.
New Orleans really shot higher on contested pictures on this sport than they did uncontested pictures. That’s propped up some by Zion Williamson’s ending inside, however it’s additionally instructive that Boston’s effort degree was good. When the opposite crew makes tough pictures, there isn’t rather a lot you are able to do about it.
In a traditional sport, that type of effort degree will repay. And most groups don’t have a monster finisher on the rim like Williamson is. So, regardless of the uncooked numbers being dangerous, it’s straightforward to see why Stevens wasn’t fully down within the dumps concerning the protection.
2. Jayson Tatum was glorious early, as he scored 16 factors within the sport’s first 9 minutes. Tatum was additionally superb within the fourth quarter, when he dropped in 14 factors. In the center of the sport, Tatum went lacking to some extent. The Celtics regarded for his or her offensive chief to hold them, and he did for stretches. It’s these considerably maddening minutes the place he disappeared that change into irritating. That’s when Boston fell behind and was in scramble mode to catch up.
Tatum both wants extra from his teammates, or he has to step up and do it himself. Ideally, it will likely be the primary, particularly when Jaylen Brown can play. On the nights when it’s the latter, Tatum needs to be unselfishly egocentric for the nice of the crew.
3. Luke Kornet performed a second sturdy sport off the bench. He appears to have that Daniel Theis-like sense of when to pop and when to roll. Here’s Kornet working pick-and-pop with Marcus Smart:
Later within the half, Kornet was capable of work as a curler with Kemba Walker to get an and-1:
In the second half, Kornet confirmed he can perform a little passing out of pick-and-roll performs too. This isn’t a simple move to make, however he finds Aaron Nesmith for the nook three off the slip:
4. It’s not honest to position blame on solely a few gamers for this loss, however if you happen to go that path, Marcus Smart and Evan Fournier stand out. Let’s begin with Smart. What on the earth was this?
It was the Pelicans ball earlier than this leap. Brandon Ingram didn’t even leap as a result of had he received the tip, it might have been a shot-clock violation. Smart simply misplaced monitor of scenario right here massive time.
That play in and of itself is not any massive deal. It occurs to ever participant in some unspecified time in the future. Well…perhaps not that actual play, however you get it.
What was an enormous deal? Smart went right into a funk after that play. He tried to make up for it and bricked a 3 on the subsequent journey. Then instantly received crushed backdoor by Brandon Ingram for a dunk. And to prime it off, Smart received ejected from the sport with 24.7 seconds to play.
Smart is the Celtics coronary heart and soul. That’s simple. Sometimes he must be higher about being a part of the mind too.
5. As for Evan Fournier…sheesh. 0-for-10 is the worst a participant has ever shot the ball in a debut sport with a brand new crew. The excellent news? It can solely get higher from right here! And the guess is that it’s going to. Fournier was clearly urgent after the primary couple of misses. Having watched him rather a lot in Orlando, Fournier missed a ton of pictures that he normally buries.
On the re-watch of the sport, Fournier appears to have already got an excellent understanding the best way to play off Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker. That may imply Brad Stevens can return to the double-duos he preferred final 12 months, when he virtually at all times had two of Tatum, Walker, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward on the ground. Look for that to develop with this group, with Fournier instead of Hayward.
On protection, Fournier had a reasonably respectable night time. He’ll must be taught to shut “hard and high” on three-point shooters, as that’s one thing Boston does that may be very completely different from Orlando. But he held his personal on switches, which is one thing the Celtics do much more than the Magic too. He even managed to dam/strip Zion Williamson twice. That’s an excellent signal for the longer term.
6. Speaking of Zion Williamson, defending him is akin to being locked in a cage with a grizzly bear and seeing if you happen to can keep alive for a brief time frame. Grant Williams received the beginning and defended probably the most complete possessions in opposition to Williamson. Williams held up fairly effectively too. Williamson solely received off 4 pictures in 13 possessions in opposition to Williams.
Marcus Smart had Williamson fairly a bit as effectively, and in addition held up strongly. We’re going to come back again to this subsequent takeaway.
Luke Kornet was the third-most prevalent defender and was extra of a blended bag. He contested pictures, however Williamson is simply too fast and too sturdy for Kornet to cease him on the rim. Of course, that’s true of virtually any defender within the NBA.
Overall, Boston held Williamson to 10-of-20 from the ground. The protection was actively contesting him within the paint. That’s about the most effective you possibly can hope for in opposition to one of many NBA’s rising stars.
7. Marcus Smart’s protection has slipped noticeably this season, and the Celtics protection has slipped proper together with it. Maybe accidents are an element, however Smart is struggling to maintain opposing ballhandlers in entrance of him. He’s additionally playing for steals rather a lot. And, greater than ever, he’s giving himself up and attempting to take expenses. That final one has at all times been a factor, however it’s much more prevalent this season.
The playing and flopping are each indicators that Smart perhaps doesn’t belief himself to beat the opponent to the spot like he at all times has. Smart additionally was unscreenable. He’d flip round them, battle by means of them or generally simply get skinny and keep away from the contact fully. Now, Smart is commonly getting picked off on screens and calling for switches he by no means would have known as for earlier than.
On the flip facet, Smart has held up very effectively in opposition to bigs and achieved a stable job in opposition to massive wings. It’s the faster, shifty ballhandlers who appear to be giving him hassle. Smart isn’t younger anymore at age 27, and he’s had a protracted historical past of mid-body and leg accidents. If he’s misplaced a few of his quickness, that might be contributing to the struggles on the perimeter.
This may be a case for Smart returning to a bench position when Jaylen Brown and Evan Fournier are within the lineup collectively. That would spot his minutes higher, and hopefully preserve him more energizing for a playoff run. However it’s solved for, it’s one thing Brad Stevens and Smart want to determine collectively.
8. It’s going to go unnoticed, as a result of there weren’t quite a lot of eye-popping performs, however Robert Williams has made a case that he ought to stick as Boston’s beginning middle. Williams scored seven factors, however grabbed 10 rebounds, handed out 5 assists and blocked three pictures.
Williams is arguably probably the most athletic massive Boston has ever had. His second-jump capability is unimaginable. He’s up, down and up once more earlier than most others are even again down. He’s additionally fast sufficient to change onto any opponent and maintain his personal. If the Celtics are ever capable of get their protection again on monitor, Williams might be a significant purpose why.
Here’s an excellent instance of Williams’ defensive versatility. He slides all the way down to the baseline to chop of the ballhandler. Then he recovers again to Steven Adams in the course of the lane. And then he’s fast and lengthy sufficient to assist on the rim by stripping Zion Williamson. This sequence of performs is one thing no different Celtics massive can do proper now:
9. This was a sport that screamed for extra from Kemba Walker. With Jaylen Brown out, Walker wanted to supply secondary scoring behind Jayson Tatum. He did okay, however he may have been a bit extra egocentric looking pictures. Walker was simply 2-of-9 from behind the arc, however handed up some attractiveness, particularly late. He can’t do this and have Boston’s offense proceed to move. It turns into a file scratch and the whole lot has to reset.
The excellent news is that Walker regarded fast and explosive as a finisher across the basket. That continues a string of a number of performances the place he’s regarded good bodily. Not taking part in back-to-back video games isn’t ultimate, but when it has Walker prepared for the playoffs, then it’s the suitable name.
10. Playoffs? Did you say playoffs? Sure did! The Celtics could also be struggling to seek out consistency, however they continue to be only one sport out of homecourt benefit within the Eastern Conference playoffs. They nonetheless have extra dwelling video games left this season than simply about anyone. They’ve received six extra left this week and subsequent.
Should anybody have faith Boston will rip off a 5 or six-game win streak? Nope. They haven’t been that crew all 12 months. But if it’s ever going to occur, now can be the time. It’s alright to have your life jacket on. Just don’t really abandon ship. Not simply but.