“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” -- Colin Powell
The Celtics and the Rockets played a fantastic game Saturday night. It is a shame that either team had to lose. Sure, as a Celtics fan I would have preferred the win, but in the grand scheme of things the loss is only a single game in the final tally to determine the standings.
On the flipside, there were a lot of positives from this loss and most of it revolves around the play of the bench.
Greg Monroe turned in his best performance to date in a Boston uniform. The Celtics looked to him on the post and he delivered points in bunches (finishing with 18). The defense had to respect the Celtics shooters so he sometimes was able to find open space behind the defense and make himself available for dump-offs and entry passes. He even whipped in an impressive pass to a cutting Rozier from the high post. Brad Stevens is known for maximizing a player’s strengths. If he can continue to utilize Monroe like they did Saturday, it will be an added dimension that the Celtics haven’t had at their disposal.
Terry Rozier has become consistent and that’s gotta be scary for the rest of the league. The last time he scored in single digits was January 29th. He averaged 15.5 points for the month of February and had 17 last night. The guy is flat out solid and the bench really needs reliable scoring. He’s in his third year in the league and he’s seen his ups and downs with inconsistent playing time and performance. But now he just looks more comfortable and confident on the court and that’s translating to results.
Marcus Morris also had one of his best games of the season, finishing with 21 points to lead the Celtics in scoring. There are certainly nights when the shot isn’t falling and he doesn’t look like the most efficient player. But you have to admire his unquenchable confidence because when he’s rolling, he’s a difference maker. He’s right up there on the list of guys that could very well swing a playoff game or two in our favor when all is said and done.
Some additional positives include the following: Marcus Smart keeps doing Marcus Smart things (while trying to slow down an MVP candidate). Jayson Tatum had a solid game on his birthday. Jaylen Brown played a solid game without putting up much in the way of counting stats. Also, the team as a whole shot over 50% from 3.
Obviously there were some negatives. Late game execution was lacking, Kyrie needs to work on his intentional misses on free throws, and Al Horford seems a bit off lately.
Still, the Celtics went blow-for-blow with one of the top teams in the league and scored 120 points despite getting just 18 from Kyrie Irving. Not a bad day’s work all told. When this team is engaged and executing, they can run with anybody and give themselves the opportunity to win. I think Brad Stevens will take an effort like that any day.