Depth challenged (Keith Smith): We all knew it would be tough sledding without Al Horford and Jae Crowder. After a good first quarter and overall encouraging first half, the Warriors talent and depth took over. Unfortunately the Celtics lack of quality depth, especially at SF showed up tonight. Jaylen Brown simply isn't ready for this type of challenge and Gerald Green is over matched. Defending Kevin Durant for a few possessions here and there with Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley is fine. It might even be a good change of pace look to throw at him. Doing it for an entire game is a something entirely different. Durant used his size and skill to shoot or pass over the top of his undersized defenders all game long. Klay Thompson did the same. It was just too much to ask of an undersized and undermanned squad. The good news? Boston gets another crack at them March 8th. Hopefully they'll bring a full deck this time.
Rhythm is gonna get you (Tim MacLean): The Celtics were obviously severely outmanned tonight against the Golden State Warriors. Asking a team to defend the likes of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green is a tall enough task as it is—let alone attempting to do so without two of your very best defenders. Of course, you can't definitively say the presence of both Al Horford and Jae Crowder would have been enough for Boston to upset the Dubs Friday night, but it certainly would have helped its cause.
It's not just missing bodies, though. Boston has struggled to get much of a rhythm going so far this season what with new faces being incorporated and roles changing for some returning players. But despite all that you have to recognize some of the minor improvements from game-to-game. The Celtics came out really aggressive in the first quarter for the second straight game and their effort level never really waned even when they went down big in the third.
This team just needs to get healthy. The sooner Horford, Crowder and, now, Marcus Smart get back on the floor at 100%, the better. No reason for the Celtics to hang their heads. It'll all come together soon.
Is it time for less Jerebko? (Alex Kungu): It’s been something I’ve been harping on since the preseason, and it’s still worth nothing now; Jonas Jerebko has not been good. During last season’s playoff run, what made him so great was he was shooting three’s, active on the boards, and getting after it defensively. Those three point shots have now turned into adventures at the rim, the defense has looked lackadaisical at times, and the energy that he used to bring to the games is nonexistent. This season he’s averaging 4.1 ppg, 26.3% from three, and only averaging 3.2 rpg. He’s a vet, it’s early, and there’s a very real chance he can turn it around, but unlike last year there are other options worth exploring. My pick? Jaylen Brown. He’s still learning the game, and won’t always be great, but at the end of the day, only one of these guys plans to be in your long-term plans. Brown may not bring efficient shooter from long-range, but he’ll get to the rim, initiate offense, and every minute he’s getting on the court will aide him in overall development. Jerebko has done great things in the past, but in his minutes he hasn’t had nearly the overall impact we were hoping for.
Chemical inertia (Lachlan Marr): This was always going to be a tough game but there was a vague hope that it might prove in some way illuminating. Unfortunately all we learned was what we already knew; without Crowder and Horford this team is in trouble. What’s worse though, despite a similar win-loss record, the Celtics seems to be less organised and less unified than they were last season.
Unlike the cohesive band of brothers that we saw fight for wins against overwhelming odds last season, a team that even in defeat seemed to find moral victories and still showed they had the fiber to win, this Celtics squad lacks chemistry. What was possibly their biggest advantage last season has been all but lost.
So far this year, even when the Celtics do manage to go on a tear it tends to be more on the back of spectacular individual play, rather than true teamwork. Of course this could easily be attributed to missing two starters, and that’s surely a factor, but the issue seems deeper than that. This tough loss to the Warriors just highlighted how much the Celtics have unravelled. If the Celtics are to improve this season, this team needs to learn to play together, regardless of personnel, and they need to rediscover the identity that made them one of the most feared and most cohesive units in the league last season.
(Jeff Nooney): The third quarter sums up the frustration of playing the Warriors. They're so dang long on defense, which clogs up normal passing lanes. Factor in the tight off-ball defense on Isaiah, and it's no wonder why the offense struggled to find a rhythm in the quarter.
The lack of scoring is bad enough, but the Warriors can turn turnovers into points in an instant. Their offense is brutal to guard in settled situations, so transition is just unfair. The consecutive steals by Durant and Curry sent the game into full on blowout territory. You just can't afford to slip up against Golden State, especially down two staters to injury.
Talent (and length) wins (Bill Sy): This should come to no surprise: the Warriors are stacked. That manifests itself in a lot of different ways. With playmakers all over the floor, they can get easy looks with their ball movement and spacing. But even if you play perfect defense, they’re still the most talented team on the perimeter.
According to NBA.com/stats, Golden State is the best shooting team under “tight” and “very tight” defense; with defenders 0-2 feet away, they’re making a ridiculous 51.4% of their shots (8.1/15.7) and with defenders 2-4 feet away, they’re hitting 54.5% (17.2/31.6). That kind of shot making prowess was on display last night. On contested field goals, the Warriors were 21-of-43. Durant was 6-for-8 and Thompson was 7-for-13. The Celtics are the shortest team in the league (with or without Horford and Crowder) and despite having defenders in their pocket, the Warriors just shot over them.
For much of the night, Bradley checked Durant and Smart covered Thompson. That makes sense. With the number of picks that Thompson runs through in the half court, having the bigger and stronger Smart fighting his way through traffic made sense. That left the 6’2 Bradley on the 6’9 Durant. For most of the night, AB stayed in front of KD, but with that size differential plus Durant’s wingspan, Durant had his way.