Game day recap, diary-style. Enjoy and have a happy Thanksgiving:
10:22 am: I'm mad too, Brad. I expected the Hawks to come out guns blazing after losing to the Celtics earlier in the year, but I didn't expect Boston to look so bad and in front of a national TV audience no less. I had friends who are Lakers fans who tuned in to watch the second half of the TNT telecast and caught some of that shellacking in the fourth quarter. After LA put up their own stinker against the Warriors, it kills me that they were a little comforted by the fact that "at least the Celtics suck, too." Bah, humbug.
11:56 am: Reading this Jackie MacMullan piece on Kevin Garnett and feeling a little better. Danny, send a second rounder and see if we can rent KG for a few weeks while Marcus is out.
4:43 pm: FLCeltsFan nailed it in the pre-game: this is a must-win. It's not because we're playing the winless Sixers at home even though a loss to Philly would send me down a spiral that would just absolutely ruin Thanksgiving. It's because this team hasn't felt the same since those back-to-back wins against the Thunder and Rockets on the road. I want that Celtics team back. I want Marcus Smart back. I want Brooklyn to trade away Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young and start really really sucking. This game can't start soon enough.
5:05 pm: Please rally around this news, fellas:
Marcus Smart returning to the court in two weeks is "very optimistic" I'm told. He's on crutches now along with wearing a leg brace.— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) November 25, 2015
Marcus Smart told me there's no definitive timetable for him to get back to playing. #CelticsTalk— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) November 25, 2015
5:43 pm: The Celtics have been a mess on defense over the last three games. Jordan Mickey has been averaging 12 rebounds and 5 blocks over five games for the Maine Red Claws. Makes sense.
The Celtics have recalled forward Jordan Mickey from the Maine Red Claws of the NBA Development League.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 25, 2015
5:48 pm: Every time I think, "man, I wish we had a superstar we could rely on," I'm reminded that Brad Stevens is that star. After stressing last night that the team needs to be more "connected," shuffling the starting lineup would have been a little hypocritical.
Stevens will not make any changes to tonight's starting lineup. Says he didn't even mention last night's game when he addressed team today.— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 25, 2015
Brad Stevens: "The biggest thing that we can embrace is that we need to do our jobs well."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 25, 2015
In summation of his frustrations, Brad Stevens says, "I want us to play to a better standard than we have."— Boston Celtics (@celtics) November 25, 2015
5:20 pm: I remember when Garnett was injured in the 2009 and he wouldn't attend games because it stressed him out not being able to play (see above Jackie Mac article). But during the playoffs, he started showing up and there's this great picture of him yelling down on Ben Gordon, providing some intimidation from the sidelines. Smart doesn't have that clout yet, but he has been known to call out defensive coverages and cheer on his teammates from the bench. I hope he's with the team tonight.
#Celtics guard Marcus Smart in locker room - no boot or crutches, but heavy limp.— Scott Souza (@Scott_Souza) November 25, 2015
7:10 pm: More good stuff from Evan Turner here from MassLive's Jay King. For what it's worth, I'm a huge Turner fan; I think he's very very talented on the court and clearly a great interview.
Evan Turner on Stevens getting mad: "I knew he meant everybody else. He wasn't talking about me because I'm his favorite. No, I'm joking."— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 25, 2015
More Turner jokes: "I was looking like, you guys messed up. You guys need to take care of it because me and Brad aren't having this shit."— Jay King (@ByJayKing) November 25, 2015
7:30 pm: GAME TIME FIST BUMPS! In the pre-game interview with Mike Gorman, Stevens talked about setting better picks, cutting harder, being stronger with the ball, and helping on defense better.
7:40 pm: Already better rotations on defense, forcing two late shot clock threes. On the other end, Boston's moving the ball really well and it's finding Avery Bradley for open shots and he's making them and all is right in the world:
7:49 pm: AB starts the game 3 for 4 for seven points. If Boston is a playoff team by the All Star break and Bradley can keep up this pace, could he be the Celtics' representative in Toronto (over Isaiah Thomas presumably)? How cool would that be?
7:53 pm: Clean block:
7:54 pm: Phil Pressey checks in and we all feel a little guilty for giving up on this kid.
7:52 pm: Just great ball movement here. Nice to see Kelly Olynyk more aggressive on the post:
8:00 pm: Pressey with a rip on Terry Rozier, a layup, a steal on the in bounds pass, and an aggressive drive for an easy bucket. James Young, you better turn out to be something awesome because I miss the little guy.
8:06 pm: Quarter ends with the Boston up by 2. The scoreboard doesn't just show it, but they look a lot better. The Celtics are making the extra pass, they're aggressive with the ball if a gap opens up, and they're rotating defensively in the half court. Three pointers have helped, but five turnovers including 7 blocked shots have killed them.
8:12 pm: On TV, the Garden seems quiet. Team needs a flurry of stops and scores to get this game rolling. Stevens talked about the team having played a few good quarters, usually sparked by the bench. We could use that right now...and as I'm typing this, Sixers full court press and force a turnover on the in bounds for an easy lay up. Ugh. Philly up 2.
8:18 pm: Tommy Heinsohn just called the offense "mush." Isaiah Thomas back in the game.
8:20 pm: Sixers call a timeout after a Jae Crowder drive. It feels like Stevens has put an emphasis on taking it to the rack. That aggressiveness has been met with mixed results (R.J. Hunter and Jared Sullinger both coughed it up recently, Abby Chin reported that Stevens was upset with "lazy dribbles" in the paint), but I like the move. They seemed super tentative in Atlanta.
8:32: Your Marcus Smart update that you didn't want to see:
Abby Chin warned that the crutches are precautionary, but still.
8:37 pm: First half ends with Bradley missing a lay up (and wincing in pain) on a great outlet pass from Sully and Isaiah Canaan canning a three at the buzzer. Sixers lead 47-40.
It's been a weird game. I feel like players have responded to Stevens' outburst by being more individually aggressive, but as a team, it's just not there. At their best against upper echelon teams like the Thunder, Wizards, Hawks, and Rockets, the ball moved with zip and purpose on offense. Guys just seem to be going through the motions tonight. On defense, they played like a swarm of bees with active hands and feet. The rotations seem right, but there's just less energy on the floor. That's all resulted in 33.3% shooting and only four Philly turnovers at halftime.
8:47 pm: This makes me happy, but please work that Mr. Miyagi magic on Marcus Smart, Ed:
8:54 pm: Evan Turner starting the second half for Jae Crowder.
8:59 pm: Evan Turnover turns into a Sully block on Jahlil Okafor turns into an AB 3:
9:10 pm: When there isn't a scoring wing that needs to be defended by Crowder, could Turner get the nod to start? He's not the defender that Crowder is, but another playmaker out there couldn't hurt. It's not so much an indictment on Jae, but yet another adjustment due to the absence of Smart.
9:21 pm: Now I'm really missing Pressey. His ability to drive the ball, suck defenses in, and find guys for threes makes him very effective when he's surrounded by shooters. This was supposed to be what Isaiah Thomas' specialty, but his insertion into the starting lineup has somewhat negated that.
9:25 pm: Fans are booing. This is not good.
9:30 pm: With the team struggling to score on the side, it's a curious move to not play David Lee here. Lee has strung together a few good games and he's been pretty savvy at getting shots over and around bigger defenders.
9:35 pm: Isaiah Thomas is looking to score. He drives right into Okafor's chest for two free throws. This could be good or very, very bad.
9:36 pm: Thomas tries to beat T.J. McConnell and loses the ball out of bounds. Very bad.
9:37 pm: Crowd starts cheering "let's go, Celtics!" Crowder misses two free throws that could have cut it to 5.
9:40 pm: Brad Stevens has really shortened his bench. Outside of Turner, no sub has cracked 15 minutes. With depth as a strength and Stevens stressing the need for the team to play together, it's a curious move to not go with his usual rotation.
9:52 pm: Defense to offense. This is Celtics basketball.
9:50 pm: Thanks, Celtics. My heart needed a little workout before tomorrow's festivities. Thomas finishes with 30 points and 6 assists. Sully finishes strong with 9 & 15.
I'm going to a Lakers fan's place for Thanksgiving and it was going to be brutal. Happy holiday, everybody.