Monday’s win over the Washington Wizards was a certified blowout. The game was over basically immediately, with the Wizards completely unable to guard anybody at all. So how does one enjoy such a game? Here are the dos and don’ts of Celtics blowouts.
Do: Bask in the glory of your team being way better than your opponent.
There was nothing wrong with a little narcissism at the Wizards’ expense last night. In an ideal world, all people would be self-assured, perfectly contented without putting down others. But I live in the real world, and frequently revel in my opponent’s failure.
In sports, we often measure how good our team is based on how horrible the team we are beating looks. So, when I saw Jordan Poole attempt a ball-fake shimmy-turnaround on Jrue Holiday and get blocked to Narnia, I smiled a bit. When the Wizards roster failed over and over and over at staying in front of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, I felt pretty good.
And believe me, when Poole shot legitimately the funniest three-pointer I have ever seen—which looked like a slow motion video of a dad cooking his six-year-old kid in their driveway with some sick dribble moves, except his son is 7’3” and blocked it—I laughed pretty hard.
The Wizards looked like an unserious basketball team for the majority of the game, even employing the bold strategy of starting Kyle Kuzma at center. It is ridiculous to say we don’t take pleasure in our opponent’s downfall. So, let’s just accept it and do it right.
Don’t: Attempt to extrapolate this level of dominance onto ANY future games.
I could go on for hours about how great Brown looked last night, or how consistently Tatum can annihilate inferior defenders, but honestly, the Celtics’ success last night had a lot more to do with how awful the Wizards are.
Especially this early in the season, bad teams also tend to be discombobulated teams, leading to some hideous results. Not only are the Wizards devoid of top-end talent, but their main offensive weapon from last year was playing for the other team Monday night.
The one guy with some actual experience starting was Kyle Kuzma, who offered the only semblance of resistance to the Celtics onslaught. Bilal Coulibaly is as raw as they come, while Tyus Jones is more of a facilitator than a scorer. Deni Avdija has a long way to go as a starter, and their bench is a collection of riffraff that isn’t going anywhere fast.
Meanwhile, the Jordan Poole Experience is like a roller coaster without breaks, but also sometimes without any electricity to even start the ride. If he gets it rolling from downtown, things can spiral out of control pretty quickly. But he had absolutely nothing going on last night, and the roller coaster was powerless, leaving all the children sad and throwing tantrums.
Do: Use blowouts to win arguments with your friends about players
If arguing with your friends about the NBA is playing poker, all the lovely stats generated by blowouts are like playing with house money. Do you think that Jaylen Brown is severely underrated, but your friend won’t shut up about how he can’t go left? Behold, Jaylen baptizing a terrible opponent for three quarters and scoring 36 points on crazy efficiency.
Do you think that Payton Pritchard wasn’t worth the $30 million the Celtics gave him, but your buddy thinks he’s a sneaky 6th Man of the Year candidate? Never fear, because Pritchard failed to score a single point in a game where he played 25 minutes. Tough scenes.
Or maybe you and your friends have complex arguments about the upside of Bilial Coulibaly, tracking his minutes and weighing his value of continuing to develop Corey Kispert as a rotation piece. If that’s you… well, good for you!
There’s nothing like a little confirmation bias when the Celtics deep-fry someone on live TV, and I, for one, will be using this opportunity to explain to my household why Luke Kornet is a borderline unplayable backup big with his defensive limitations. Feel free to come up with your own ideas at home.
Don’t: Overreact to how well/poorly the bench unit plays
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching blowouts, it’s that you cannot hope to predict how the bench unit will perform when given the entire fourth quarter to run around and do stuff. This part of the game—pejoratively referred to as “garbage time” by those who don’t understand the beauty of meaningless basketball—is full of reasons why it can’t be used to evaluate players.
The first is the basic fact that all NBA players are extremely talented, and in garbage time the pressure to perform disappears. Reserve guys are often fighting tooth and nail for minutes, so the time they do get in an actually competitive game can be intensely stressful. But in garbage time nothing matters, since the game is already over Sometimes, guys like Pritchard and Sam Hauser will catch fire when it suddenly doesn’t matter whether their shots go in or not.
The second problem is the flip side: guys just aren’t used to that kind of game. Pritchard scoring zero points last night could be concerning, but many of the minutes he shared with the starters saw them score so easily he wasn’t needed. By the time he could create offense in garbage time, he was totally out of rhythm.
Ultimately, blowouts are just house money. You don’t have to throw it all away, but don’t count on keeping it all either. You’ll just wind up disappointed and confused, wondering why Tatum can’t just sidestep his defender into the shadow realm every night. If only.