The Celtics still haven’t put together a good 48 minutes, but they did their job against Brooklyn tonight. This game was all over the place, as the Celtics jumped out to an early lead, gave it up, and stretched it back out in the fourth. There were a lot of key contributors, and just about every Celtics that touched the floor had their moments. Let’s check out some of the better takeaways, and some areas of concern from tonight’s game.
The ball was a movin’
There was a lot of good ball movement tonight. The Celtics got credit for 26 assists, which is their highest assist total in their last nine games. What’s interesting about tonight’s assist number is that only three players had more than one. Horford and Smart both ended the night with 8 assists a piece. Thomas dished out 5 assists, while five other Celtics were credited with just one. Smart was particularly impressive, as he played like a pure point guard for a large portion of his minutes tonight. I would be impressed with Horford’s assist numbers, but he’s done everything in his last three games.
Amir did good work on the glass in short minutes
Amir Johnson has been one of the Celtics worst rebounders, percentage-wise, this season. Tonight, he grabbed 9 rebounds, including 2 offensive rebounds, in just 19 minutes. That’s exactly what the Celtics need from Amir. There were still times when the Celtics had a nice defensive stop, only to give up second or third chance opportunities. Amir’s 9 boards helped the Celtics win the rebounding battle tonight with 51 rebounds to Brooklyn’s 45.
The Celtics won, and just as importantly, Brooklyn loss
As a player, I’m sure there is very little focus on the Nets draft picks. After all, that could be the guy that takes your job in a season or two. Still, the Celtics want to win every game, so beating whoever is important. Throw in that Brooklyn in the Celtics division, and that makes this win mean a little more.
From a fans point of view, beating Brooklyn is probably more important than beating any other team. The Nets have some decent players, and they are playing really hard this season. Also, Jeremy Lin will probably be back soon, and he will likely have some big offensive games. So, watching them rack up the losses early is a big deal.
Their coach, Atkinson seems to be playing the long game so far this season. He has held the players minutes down to under 30 per game, as their leading minutes man, Hollis-Jefferson, is averaging just over 27 a game. If they can get a little chemistry, and build on positives, which I really hope they don’t, then they could have a good run later in the year.
Putting together a solid 48 minutes
The Celtics failed to put together a wire to wire effort yet again tonight. Even in the first quarter, where they out-scored Brooklyn 30-16, the Celtics should have been better. Then, the Celtics proceeded to give back the lead by stagnating on offense in the second quarter. There is a distinct gap in play once the Celtics bench starts to be integrated into the game. Stevens tried to make sure either Horford, Bradley, or Thomas were on the court for the majority of the game, but that didn’t seem to matter. All of the tools seem to be on the bench, but I’m not sure the tools know which tools they are yet.
Jaylen Brown needs to keep his head up
Jaylen seems to be thinking the game a little too much these days. There were a couple set plays he was involved in tonight where his head was down. By keeping his head down, Brown is allowing his defender to read and react to the play. He has a steep learning curve to climb, and he is still really young.
Another play where he wasn’t quite in the game was when he got the ball in the corner, and hesitated. He could have taken an open three, or drove the ball right to the rim. Instead, he froze for a couple seconds, which resulted in a lost opportunity for the celtics.He needs to learn to trust his instincts because he has great instincts.coach Stevens had a very short leash on Brown tonight, and after a couple of plays where he looked a little lost, Brown was taken out of the game and didn’t return.
Where’s the transition game?
The Celtics seem to have lost their transition game. They’re ranked 24th in the league in fast break points with 11. 1 per game. Tonight, they had 11 fastbreak points. At least they’re consistent, right? The Celtics have very good defensive players, but that hasn’t translated into a lot of easy transition buckets this year. I’m sure their poor rebounding has been at the root of the problem because you can’t run without the ball. In order to get the ball you have to crash the defensive glass. So, players are less inclined to try to beat the defense up the floor. Still, I had high hopes for the Celtics transition offense. Hopefully, they can control their rebounding as the season goes on, and go back to looking to run early and often, as they did in preseason.