It was a ‘tale of two nights’ for the Celtics at Staple Center this season, as they fell to the Clippers 140-115, Monday night. Lou Williams became the all-time leading NBA bench scorer, scoring 34 points in 22 minutes. The Celtics had no answer for Williams in pick and roll coverage as he continually got to the rim. Jaylen Brown continued his strong play for the Celtics, finishing with 22-7-3 and some big moments to keep the Celtics slim hopes alive. Kyrie Irving had a solid game and finished with 18-11 and his usual assortment of highlight reel plays.
It was a bizarre game, one the Clippers dominated from start to finish, but felt more competitive at times than one might think looking at the box score. The Clippers out-rebounded the Celtics by a brutal margin, 48-28. Weird bounces found open shooters for LA often, and they found themselves sniffing around 60% from three late in the third quarter. 140 is the most points surrendered by the Celtics this season.
Although the game wasn’t quite as bad as the final might have indicated, the most problematic aspect exposed by this game was the Celtics porous pick and roll defense; regularly abused by Williams throughout the evening.
Early in the first quarter, hope abounded, and it looked like Celtics fans who stayed up for this one would be treated to a high quality game. The Celtics played some of their best defense in months, finding ways to stifle the Clippers starters and make things uncomfortable for them on the other end. Brown brought his continued improved play to the starting lineup, chipping in three steals in the first half. Even Marcus Smart got in some fun shots!
However, it was tough sledding for the Celtics in the second quarter, (and a sign of things to come) as they couldn’t find any semblance of an answer for the Clippers PnR attack. Morris in particular struggled when put in the help coverages in the second quarter.
Williams was electric for the Clippers in the first half, putting up 17-4-3 in just 13 minutes and 12 field goal attempts, something he would carry over in the second half.
- The Celtics briefly cut the Clippers lead back to 10 after a nifty split and dish from Kyrie Irving, but poor penetration containment on the other end led to LA running the lead back to 16 before a Steven TO.
- In the middle of the third quarter a set of Gallanari stepbacks and some inspired play from Gilgeous-Alexander threatened to knock the Celtics out of the game, but Brown came up with three big deep balls in a 90-second stretch to keep the Celtics afloat.
- The Celtics had a massive quarter in the third scoring 36. They were outscored by the Clippers who scored 39.
The Celtics will be back in action on Thursday as they finally return home after a successful road trip to take on the Kings.