Notable Wins: Home Opener vs Philly; Comeback @ Thunder; Home vs Milwaukee
Notable L’s: @ Toronto; Home vs Magic; blown lead @ Denver
Through 10 games, the theme that has emerged among talking heads and other Celtic fans of my ilk is that the Celtics have been underwhelming. While I would certainly say they are performing below expectations, I would also argue that the reintegration of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward has been more difficult than any of us could have envisioned. I tend to think of Brad Stevens as a basketball wizard/savant and that he can make any player perform to the top of his capabilities simply by putting him in the right situation. With this team though, it’s an entirely different challenge and one that we have never seen him have to tackle. Throughout the “Stevens presidency”, he has consistently over-performed with underwhelming or incomplete rosters. Consider that aside from the last two years, this team looked drastically different year to year with a rotating door of players. People like Evan Turner, Isiah Thomas and Jae Crowder are gone and replacing them is arguably the most talented roster in the NBA. It’s Stevens’ job to make that work rotation-wise but ultimately, the players play the game and have to start performing to the levels they are capable of.
Each game I’ve watched, I look for a spark. It’s a perfect offensive possession where the ball whips around as each player scatters the defense putting fear into the eyes of the other team as the ball flies through the air around the perimeter. This season, those types of possessions have come few and far between. Too often, this team settles for jumpers when it has the ability to blow by defenders at positions 1 through 5. Al Horford can take his man off the dribble just as smoothly as Jayson Tatum and a Jayson Tatum post-up is just as effective as a Horford post-up. Everyone is interchangeable. As of late, the offense has looked much better. They hit a franchise record for 3’s against the Bucks in a win and continued that hot streak into Indiana but took a tough loss. Against the Nuggets, we got glimpses of how good this team can be as they raced out to an 18 point lead in the first half with the offense playing to a level that seemed closer to what we as fans expected. Only to squander that lead and let Jamal Murray erupt for 48 points in an excruciating loss. These signs, despite the recent two game losing streak, have given me hope. The offense looks better and more fluid; and Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are looking better everyday. The defense has remained superb throughout this early part of the season and has saved the Celtics’ ass more than a few time already. The offense just needs to catch up.
Obviously if you read my first post, you’d know I expect this team to not only compete for a championship but to win the whole damn thing. I still believe that but I will admit, these other eastern conference contenders have impressed me. The Raptors are absolutely terrifying with Kawhi at the helm and Indiana looks like a complete team. The Sixers are always gonna be a threat with the overwhelming amount of talent on the roster and the bucks look downright scary with Mike Budenholzer unlocking the offense with Giannis taking another step forward. Luckily for the Celtics, we have seen every one of these teams in the first 10 games. Looking back at the schedule, the Celtics really have had one of the toughest in the league. Losing @ Toronto,@ Indy and @ Denver isn’t great but it certainly was not a surprising result. Those teams are among the best in the league and they expect to win at home. The only loss that has been infuriating is the one to Orlando IN BOSTON. Great teams can’t lost games like that, especially at home.
Despite the recent struggles, I am still supremely confident in this team. Kyrie is rounding into shape and has looked impressive in the last few games. Gordon Hayward is getting stronger each game and I am looking forward to seeing him play more minutes back-to-backs which should start as early as this week. Tatum has had a strong start to the season and Brown is beginning to figure it out as well. The two youngest starters seem to be the most comfortable on the floor so far which is an encouraging sign. Big Al has been doing his thing on offense and defense and Marcus Morris has been scintillating off the bench providing the punch we need. The only concern has been the recent rumors of Terry Rozier being unhappy, which I’m sad to say I’m not very surprised at. Rozier played exceptional in the playoffs for us and I can see why he would believe he’s earned a starting role. We will see how it plays out but the signing of Marcus Smart in the summer, though inadvertently, kind of pushed Rozier out the door.
- W. 105-77 vs. Philly: Player of the game: Tatum
- L. 101-113 @ Tor: Player of the game: Kawhi Leonard
- W. 103-101 @ NY: Player of the game: Tatum
- L. 90-93 vs Orl: Player of the game: Nikola Vucevic
- W. 101-95 @ OKC: Player of the game: Al Horford
- W. 109-89 @ Det: Player of the game: Daniel Theis
- W. 108-105 vs Det: Player of the game: Kyrie
- W. 117-113 vs. Mil: Player of the game: Kyrie
- L. 101-102 @ Ind: Player of the game: Victor Oladipo
- L. 107-115 @ Den: Player of the game: Jamal Murray
MVP through 10 games: Jayson Tatum.
The second year forward has been our most consistent and reliable player. On offense, he’s punishing smaller defenders in the post and taking larger players off the dribble. He always calm and cool with the ball, looking to score. He takes a lot of isolations for himself but it’s because he knows he can get the bucket. He’s second on the team in scoring and his rebounding is up from last year as well. Defensively, he’s been great in his second year within the system seeming more comfortable with his rotations and positioning.