Last night in the TD Garden it was Greek Heritage Night, maybe not the best of timing when the Greek Freak himself in Giannis Antetokounmpo is coming to town.
The Celtics started hot coming out with a 10-1 run to start the game, but it was all Bucks from there with Milwaukee defeating Boston 120-107. Giannis went for 30 pts and seemed to get to the basket at will, something that has become almost a formality for the 6’11 Greek god.
You could argue that wasn’t what did the Celtics in though, Giannis is always going to get his. Rather it was the Celtics inability to slow down the rest of the Bucks and especially from the 3pt line. The Bucks shot 40 percent from three on the night, but it was a flurry of deep shots that exploded the Bucks lead to 20 points in the 2nd quarter, a lead that resulted in being too insurmountable to come back from.
The Celtics on the other hand were forced to play small ball with Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris all out with injury. It didn’t bode well against the top rebounding team in the league in the Bucks and they were destroyed on the glass 55-36. When you play small ball you better make your threes and that certainly wasn’t the case. The Celts shot 10-34 from deep for a dismal 29 percent on the night. The live and die by the 3 motto was certainly in full effect last night with the Celtics living by the latter.
There were some flashes of good play in the second half, but when you get down big to a good team like the Celtics did tonight you can’t expect them to let you back in it. This isn’t the same Bucks team that Boston beat last year in the first round of the playoffs, they along with Giannis are much improved and are proving they can compete with anyone on any court this season.
Jaylen Brown provided some of the only encouraging moments tonight in a losing effort. His 21 Points in 30 minutes off the bench seemed to be the only spark plug the Celtics had. Brown who has struggled so far this season seemed to get going in an expanded role tonight. It would lead you to believe that he is a player that needs to get more minutes to garner more production. With Gordon Hayward still struggling to look comfortable on the floor and provide sufficient production, it may be time for Jaylen to step into and expanded role and keeping Hayward on the bench.
It was widely reported late last night after the game that there was a closed-door meeting in the Celtics locker room after last night’s debacle. There is no doubt it was a heated discussion in there and details were scarce about what was discussed. Kyrie Irving provided some insight when interviewed afterwards and said that “there is a lot of selfish play going on.”
You must agree with Kyrie’s sentiment and it has been clear that this team has strayed from the squad that was moving the ball around effectively during the recent 8- game win streak. The iso-ball that this team can fall into at times like we saw tonight is almost like a death sentence. It almost always ensures a stagnant offense and hinders the ability to get multiple players involved.
The Celtics get back at it Sunday night vs the Hornets, for their sake and that of the Celtics faithful we hope this closed locker room conversation can be a turning point in this season. I understand this team needs to get healthy, but they need to keep winning games in the meantime. I’ve heard cries that it won’t matter if we are healthy come the playoffs. While this may be true, this team is at a real risk of falling out of the race for the 1 or 2 seed in the East if things don’t turn around quickly. You can say that doesn’t matter, but don’t forget that until game 7 of the ECF last year this team didn’t lose a home playoff game. Homecourt advantage matters, especially in Boston.
This Celtics team is certainly at a serious turning point in this season. With Christmas in a few days, the “real” NBA season (as in the part where guys start taking it seriously) is about to start. This team will either come together and have us forgetting these early season troubles, or they could go down as one of the most wasted collection of talent we’ve seen in recent NBA history. For the sake of Celtics fans, we sure hope it’s not the latter.