1. Multiples times over the years, Brad Stevens has said some version of “If you don’t respect the game and play hard, the game pays you back in a way you don’t want.” Against Detroit, the Celtics continued a disturbing trend of playing down to their opponents. And the really scary part is that it doesn’t show up just in sloppy play, but with a disinterested effort, especially on defense. If you allow an opponent to shoot 17-of-19 on two-point shots in a half, that’s not just bad defense. That’s a complete lack of care.
2. The Boston defense was disconnected all game long. The communication was a mess. This play in the second quarter stood out:
Marcus Smart has Markieff Morris on a switch. That probably doesn’t necessitate a Grant Williams double-team into a switch, but that’s fine. Williams picks the right time to go and off the right guy. The problem comes after. Morris takes a back-up dribble to get away from the double. That’s when the switch has to happen. Smart and Williams completely blow it. Smart leaves and Williams gives up the baseline for the layup.
3. Let’s balance some good with all the bad. Gordon Hayward was terrific. With Jayson Tatum out, Hayward was going to need to provide some scoring and he did with 25 points on 11-of-15 shooting. The good shooting raised his field goal percentage to over 53% on the season. Hayward got himself good looks all night. Here he abuses Andre Drummond on a switch for the fallaway:
The he gets Drummond on the pull-up step-back:
He did his thing as a cutter:
And then he went backdoor for the loud finish:
Hayward is Boston’s most-versatile offensive player. Sometimes he plays a little passive, preferring to be a passer versus a scorer. The Celtics need more of this from Hayward, as opposed to the guy who spends a lot games a spot-up shooter and secondary playmaker.
4. It was a quiet game for Enes Kanter. Because the Celtics were playing from behind most of the second half, they went to a smaller, trapping defense. That’s not Kanter’s game. When he did play, Kanter gave Christian Wood the “full McHale”:
5. This wasn’t one for the highlight reel for Grant Williams. He really struggled on both ends. He’s been so consistent and so good at the little things, that it’s easy to forget he’s a rookie. That wasn’t there against Detroit. On offense Williams lost track of the clock at two different points, and defensively he was just a step slow all night. The handful of times Williams has had an off-game this year, we haven’t seen much of him the next night. Watch his minutes against Milwaukee on Thursday night.
6. Love this pass from Jaylen Brown. He’s got his head up and reads the defense to get Kanter the dunk. In the past, Brown puts his head down and dribbles into trouble or tries to put the defenders on a poster. Further proof of his development as a playmaker:
Hayward also had a great pass that rewarded Brown for running the floor hard. There wasn’t much to make Tommy Heinsohn smile, but you know a one-dribble, length of the floor outlet pass had him cracking a grin.
7. If Williams had a rough game, Semi Ojeleye’s night was a complete disaster. Ojeleye probably has the most inconsistent role on the team. He’ll go a few games without playing meaningful minutes, and then Stevens will call on him to go in when he needs some defense and change of energy. This may have been a game to knock the rust off with Giannis Antetokounmpo looming on the back-to-back. But Ojeleye was a mess. In the third quarter, Ojeleye missed a wide-open Kemba Walker for a three-pointer and forced one of his own. Then he jogged back on defense while Sekou Doumbouya outran and outjumped him:
(Prediction: Doumbouya is the latest version of “Ainge took Olynyk over Giannis!” but with it being “Ainge took Langford over Doumbouya!” Not that he’s as good at Antetokounmpo, but the potential is off the charts.)
Then to top it off, Ojeleye stepped over the line while throwing the ball in after the Doumbouya basket. Just a disastrous stint for him.
8. It’s hard to know exactly what Brad Wanamaker’s role will be when the roster is fully healthy. Does he get the backup point guard minutes, or is that Marcus Smart, with Romeo Langford getting the wing minutes? It’ll probably be some mixing and matching depending on opponent. But Wanamaker has earned a consistent role. He’s been the exact definition of solid. Never spectacular, but never really bad either.
9. Jaylen Brown had two crossovers that left defenders wondering what happened. First, he turns Markieff Morris into a statue on the blow-by:
Then, Brown crossed up Doumbouya for the drive and dunk:
That tightened up handle is a very real thing for Brown and it’s made a massive difference in his ability to become a complete offensive player.
10. Despite the bad result for Boston, hopefully the up close look at Andre Drummond puts the trade desires of many Celtics fans to rest. Drummond is an outstanding rebounder, but it comes at the expense of playing actual defense. He doesn’t always rotate over to help because he’s too busy getting himself into position for the rebounds. Offensively, his game is pretty limited. And, most troubling of all, he spends large portions of games just going through the motions. Maybe that’s because Detroit is terrible and he’d bring it for a good team. But given the cost to acquire Drummond, Boston should pass on trading for the big man.