Well well well, that was much-needed marquee victory over a supremely talented Raptors team who coming into tonight had the best record in the NBA. There was so many good things to pull from tonight game and gave us a lot of insight into what this team can build on moving forward.
For starters, while the scoreboard may not reflect it, I thought this team was much improved on defense tonight. The effort on the defensive side seemed to be there all night, they still got scored on but we need to remember that Toronto with Kawhi firing on all cylinders is a very, very dangerous team. I thought the interior defense was great in the first half and it was nice to see no easy buckets being allowed tonight. My only real quarry was the amount of open threes allowed, which is understandable when you actually collapse and help out on the interior. While I was slightly less impressed on how we looked on defense in the 2nd half, we still forced timely turnovers when we needed them and it was one of the first nights I really saw this team play great team defense overall.
On the offensive side of the ball I think we start and end with two words, KYRIE IRVING. Wow, is this guy special or what. His ability to take over a game down the stretch is comparable to any other NBA superstar in this league. He is simply unreal and should have anyone that had doubts that we needed him hiding in a closet right now, deleting your old tweets as quickly as possible. He season high 43 pts including 17 in the 4th quarter and was exactly the guy we dreamed of when we came here. The most ridiculous part is he did it all on 69% shooting from the field, simply incredible. We all knew Kyrie wanted to be the man, and the goddamn man he appears to be. If he keeps playing like this I might just have to start believing the earth is flat too.
Tatum showed flashes of what gets me tingly in my pants when I daydream about his future in this league. Down the stretch and in overtime he made all the right plays and had one of his better games of the year overall with 21 pts on 8-13 shooting. Need to see him keep this up. I feel very good about this team if down the stretch of games it’s either him or Kyrie stepping up to make big plays when it counts. Both of them have shown to play some of their best ball in crunch time and it can’t be understated how important of a quality that is to have in the NBA. Your always going to be in close games, especially if you’re the Cardiac C’s, having two killers to close games out down the stretch makes me a little less anxious in those moments.
Hayward looked much improved on both ends of the floor tonight, maybe this could be a turning point in him starting to readjust to being comfortable with his ability out there on the floor. If we can get a stretch of play like this in the next few games, with stats like the 15, 5 and 5 we saw tonight it would be a big indicator that he is back on his way to the 21 ppg scorer we saw in Utah. Keep a close eye over the next couple weeks.
LINEUPS LINEUPS LINEUPS!!!!
I want to get something off my chest, I hate the starting lineup as currently constructed. I just don’t think they mesh well on offense quite yet and they in my eyes are the worst defensive lineup that we put out there. I don’t have any gripe against any of them as individuals, I just don’t think they work well out there at any point of the game. Here is my view in what lineups I like seeing out there.
Hayward, Brown, Rozier, Baynes, Morris
Horford, Smart, Morris, Kyrie, Rozier
Horford, Tatum, Hayward, Smart/Morris, Kyrie
This lineup thing will be an ever evolving issue, and one I’m very grateful to have because we are so goddamn deep. I think Brad keeps playing around with it, but from my view-point it looks like he’s starting to get the feel of it. I got to give the guy a break, this is like if I had 10 supermodels who wanted to sleep with me and I had to pick the best 5. It’s gonna take me some time to work it out.
Overall we should all be super excited about the win tonight, These Raptors with Kawhi are a legitimate contender and always play tough. These two teams are 3-3 over their last 6 matchups. All those games were won by the Home team. I know the Raptors historically fold come playoff time but with Kawhi in the cards for them now it’s not something I’d like to test out come the ECF. Getting the 1 seed will actually mean something this year in the East. With these Celtics now streaking (I know, 2 Games) and a soft schedule coming up it would be a great time to cement ourselves back at the top of the East where this team belongs.
LETS GOOO CELTICS!!!!!