1. There isn’t much to take away from a blowout loss and allowing 140 points. At least not much that was positive. So, we’re doing a different spin on the takeaways. The first part will be things from the Clippers game, and they’ll be mostly negative. Then, we’ll close with some overall positives from what could be a season-defining road trip.
2. The Celtics played without Jayson Tatum and it didn’t go well. Even though Tatum has had some struggles offensively as of late, his presence helps spread the floor. Jaylen Brown started in Tatum’s place, and he was pretty good. Brown was aggressive and attacked the rim with regularity. He’s turned his season around in a big way.
The problem came in behind Brown. Semi Ojeleye got increased minutes and really struggled. His normally good defense wasn’t there and he had troubles hanging onto the ball. Ojeleye had a chance to take advantage of an opportunity and, for one of the rare times in his career, he didn’t step up.
3. Boston’s interior defense was really bad, as the Clippers scored 68 points in the paint. For a team that doesn’t have much in terms of paint scorers, that’s a ton of points to allow inside. LA got them off pick and rolls, dump off passes, offensive rebounds. The Celtics rim protection was a disaster all game.
4. Speaking of picks and roll defense…burn this tape. It was awful all game long. The bigs did little to slow the guards on drives. The Clippers were able to get downhill whenever they wanted. This led to Lou Williams scoring 34 points in just over 23 minutes. On occasion the league’s best can give the Celtics trouble with defending these actions, but against LA it was as bad as it’s been all year.
Also, congrats to Williams on becoming the all-time leading scorer in points off the bench. Given the success the Celtics have had with sixth men over the years, including maybe the best of all-time in John Havlicek and Kevin McHale, this is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
5. Despite the blowout nature of the loss to the Clippers, the team played hard the entire game. They forced 19 turnovers by being active on defense. They got their hands on a ton of balls. LA simply couldn’t miss from the field. That was good to see from Boston. They don’t often quit in games, even when everything says they should.
6. Even though they got way behind, the Celtics didn’t resort to one-on-one hero ball. They stuck together and continued to move the ball on offense, as they had 26 assists on 44 baskets. That’s an encouraging sign, as they’ve gone to trying to do it themselves all too often this season.
7. Staying positive: it was a terrific west coast swing for Terry Rozier. He averaged 15.3 points per game on 54.7 percent shooting during the 3-1 trip. In addition, his defense was solid against some good opposing point guards. For the Celtics to be the team they hope to be, they need Rozier to shake out of his season-long slump and get back to being the guy who helped lead the team in last year’s playoffs.
8. Overall, in many ways, Boston looked like a team at the end of what had been a good road trip. They did play hard, but once LA got hot, they had no chance. Every team has these kinds of losses in a long season, so it’s nothing to panic about.
9. This loss is one you can write off and move on from pretty quickly. Boston had played very well prior to this game against three very different types of opponents. The key now is to not let it spiral out of control, as has been the case this season. The next couple of games are ones the Celtics should win (Sacramento and Atlanta, both in Boston). Then they have two big ones against the Nuggets (home) and 76ers (road). It’s a key stretch of the season coming. Boston is just 1.5 games behind both Philadelphia and Indiana in the Eastern Conference. They have a game left with the Sixers and two left with the Pacers. It’s all still there for Boston. They just need to take it over the course of the last month of the season.