Well, you can’t win them all but the game wasn’t as bad as the score would indicate. The Celtics started to form some semblance of an offense with the five starters on the floor this game. Once again, it got off to a rocky start in the first half with turnovers and bad spacing but it started to look smoother as the game went on. Defensively, we looked stout, long and active. Our main problem was bottling up Kawhi Leonard who absolutely torched the C’s (31 pts/10rbs). Leonard was able to get in the lane whenever he pleased and he was a wrecking ball defensively. He missed some shots in the first half in what I thought was good defense. However, with that same defense on him in the second half, he started hitting. Danny Green also got loose a few times and Kyle Lowry was a dog per usual and was hitting his 3’s. This Toronto team is a different animal than years past.
As stated above, the Celtics offense started to click this game. It started to resemble more of what we expected before the season. The scoring was spread out evenly amongst the starters with Kyrie the high man at 21 pts and Jaylen the low man with 13 pts. Al Horford came close to a triple double, dropping 14 pts, 10 rbs and 9 asts. Having all 5 starters in double figures is what most people expected when looking at our roster. The most disturbing aspect of this game was the starters shot a good percentage from the field and we still lost. The bench continues to look good. Stevens has brought in Rozier and Morris first and I like that combo a lot. The lineup of Kyrie, Rozier, Brown, Morris and Horford is tough defensively and all are capable of hitting tough shots. Right now, it looks like Brad is going to go with a rotation of 9 with Rozier, Morris, Smart and Baynes getting run.
The Gordon Hayward recovery watch continues as he looked much more comfortable this game. It’s obvious Stevens drew up some specific plays for him and he executed them to perfection: coming off picks, shooting and running pick and rolls effectively. Kyrie Irving was also back to his normal self and in fact looked to be 100%. He was darting around the perimeter, hitting 3’s, difficult layups in the key and also dropped off 6 assists.
Play of the Game: Kyrie slicing through the key to finish the left handed scoop
Kyrie had a couple of unbelievable layups this game but I thought this was the most impressive. It was the end of the 1st half and the Celtics were on a nice little run. 20 seconds were left and Fred Van Vleet picked Kyrie up at half court. He cooked Van Vleet up top and right when he entered the key, he saw Serge Ibaka flying over to contest the shot. It all happened in a second or two so Kyrie had to go up with the shot. Instead of getting all the way to the rim, he scoops the ball with his left hand and in mid-air, releases it just before Ibaka tried to swipe it away. It banked off the square and fell through the net.
Player of the Game: Kyrie Irving
Kyrie looked much more like himself this game. His handle was smooth and he used it to get to his spots. He had a couple nice crossovers into midrange jumpers and his 3 was dropping as well. He had a couple fantastic layups and he was efficient. His final line was: 21 pts, 6asts, 4 rbs while shooting 50% from the field and 33% from 3. Even though the C’s lost, it was nice to see Kyrie in full “Uncle Drew” mode.
C’s Up! #allabout18 #greenrunsdeep