The Celtics put another W on the schedule tonight, as they held on to a close win over the Kings. It wasn’t a pretty win, and they continued to struggle in certain areas. Still, it was a needed win, and the Celtics will quickly move onto Philadelphia tomorrow night in Philly. Before we move onto Philly, let’s take a look at some of the good and bad from tonight’s win.
Al Horford shot more than five shots
After the loss to Detroit on Wednesday, Brad Stevens noted that the one stat that stood out the most to him in the box score was Horford only having taken five shots. Tonight, Horford put up 18 shots, and made 10 of them. He was also 4 for 7 from outside the three point line. Horford is a big part of the Celtics offense, and they need to make sure they go to him often. They did just that tonight, and it was a big reason why they are walking away with a win.
Horford did a lot more than make shots
He also registered 6 blocks, 2 steals, 3 assists, 8 rebounds, and only turned the ball over once. His blocks and steals are great, but his defense as a whole was even better. Horford’s clearly the Celtics best big man since Garnett, and he might even be better than Garnett was the last season or two he was with the team. It’s been said a lot of times, but Horford is one of those guys that you have to watch on a consistent basis to see how good he is. Tonight’s numbers really stick out, but he does so many other things that help this team.
Keep shooting the threes
The Celtics were a little modest shooting the three tonight. They only put up 28, which is down from their average of 31. 2. Boston knocked down 11 of those 28, which equals out to a 39. 3% success rate. That number is even more impressive when you factor in that Rozier and Thomas were a combined 0 for 7 from three. They are two of the Celtics better three point shooters. The main contributors tonight were Crowder, Bradley, and Horford. Those three combined to shoot 9 for 16 from deep.
Isaiah Thomas is struggling to make shots
Thomas is putting up points this season, but he is taking a lot of shots to get those points. He has shot the ball 50% or higher five times in nineteen games this season. Tonight, Thomas shot 6 for 21 from the field. That’s a shooting percentage of 28. 6%. His relentless attacking of the hoop, and ability to draw contact does get him a lot free throw attempts. He is such a positive player for this team, but as the team grows he’s going to have to work on improving his efficiency.
Smart had a rough game
Smart was a game low with a plus/minus of -16 tonight. He had 4 turnovers, 3 fouls, and made just 1 of his 4 shots. Smart did not shoot a free throw, or grab a single rebound in his 23 minutes of play tonight. It’s pretty rare that Smart has a game where he doesn’t have a positive impact on the game. He still looked good passing the ball, and was credited with 3 assists. He also had a nice pass to Amir that resulted in a turnover that Amir simply wasn’t ready for. Fortunately for Smart, he won’t have to think about this poor performance for long.
Transitioning from the starters to the bench
There have been a couple themes for the Celtics this season. One has been poor rebounding, and that was the case again tonight, but I needed to give that a break. The trend I’m not going to give a break is the offensive drop-off that happens when the bench comes in.
With 2:19 left in the first quarter Smart, Olynyk, and Brown come into the game for Crowder, Horford, and Bradley. At that point the Celtics had 29-19 lead over Sacramento. By the time the buzzer sounds to mark the end of the first the score is tied 29-29.
The Celtics struggle to get their offense going in the second quarter and only managed to put up 18 points. Boston was lucky that Sacramento did not have a decent shooting night from outside. The Kings shot 6 for 26 from deep, and several of those missed shots were open threes. This Celtics team is still coming together, but there needs to be a better transition from the starters to the bench if they want to beat good teams when they are playing well.