Yikes. After the Celtics engaged in a ruinous loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves this week, killing their chance to go 82-0, they followed it up with a brick-fest against Philly. Basically unforgiveable. In general, the overall sentiment of the fanbase is as reactionary as ever — maybe for good reason, maybe not. Nevertheless, this is a positive space until they really deserve it, and the Celtics continue on playing basketball, which means we’ve got lots of stuff to discuss.
Stat of the Week: 8 assists
Chemistry is one of those common concepts that remains intangible and unexplainable. To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, “[you] know it when [you] see it.” The passes come just a beat quicker, the cuts just a little crisper, and the rotations a hair sharper. The new look Celtics have had bouts where the chemistry is just a little off, but there’s an encouraging trend emerging: the budding chemistry of Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis. Jaylen has assisted KP twice as much as he’s assisted any other player on the team.
It’s certainly not perfect, as we saw Wednesday night in Philly, but it is important. JB and KP have an opportunity to prop up the offense when Tatum sits or attack the weaker defender checking JB with Tatum on the court. Jaylen’s decision-making can be questionable at times, but Porzingis makes the pick-and-roll, and the ensuing reads out of it, easy. He can simplify the game for Jaylen and they both will be better for it.
X’s and OOOoohhhhhh’s: Sam Hauser figuring it out
I’ve seen an awful lot of folks saying the bench, outside of Al, has been terrible. Sometimes those folks (not sure why I’m writing like a farmer) even list the poor performers by name. They’ve got a list and here’s the order of their list that it’s in. It goes PP, Sammy, Luke, and O-Brissy.
I actually think Brissett has done his job adequately (and believe this is the general sentiment among fans), but I’m surprised to see Hauser wrapped up in the bench negativity. After a rough first two games, he’s turned into, well, Sam Hauser. He’s now over 40% from three and averaging 8.1 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 1.5 stocks. Sammy stock market!
Perhaps the most encouraging thing with Hauser isn’t revealed in number. It’s in how he’s getting his shots off. Last year, the vast majority of his threes were open, standstill, catch and shoot jumpers. Well, the scouting report is out. Hauser now has to work for his threes, often taking them on the move, with a contest. It hasn’t mattered.
Sir Samuel of Hause movement shooting.— Wayne Spooney (@WSpooney) November 8, 2023
Hauser isn't getting nearly as many uncontested, standstill threes as last season. He's adapting with movement shooting and, perhaps, a quicker release (hard to tell). pic.twitter.com/CaOIgVwyUP
Flying around, catching quick, and releasing before the contest can get there. Hauser has leveled up his shooting, and it’s not like he got worse at standstill threes. Defenses absolutely need a body on him at all times, or he will make them pay.
You helped off the wrong dude, Nic Batum. There’s no reason to doubt Hauser’s contributions at this point, and it’s time to recognize that the Celtics have a very solid 7th man on their hands. If they could just get the 8th man to get going. . .
Non-Basketball Stuff of the Week - the unnatural sting of losing
Rationally, I know the Celtics aren’t going 98-0. It didn’t surprise me that they lost on the road in Minny or in that pile of radioactive waste they call Philadelphia. But it still leaves that little sting of disappointment and frustration.
I play back all the avoidable mistakes (paging Jaylen Brown), all the missed layups and open threes, and think if they just got a few of those to drop. But that’s the nature of the NBA. Even 60-win teams lose 22 times, so it’s fine, right? Yes, but also kind of no. While I might know that even the very best teams lose quite a bit, it doesn’t make it feel any better.
But that’s basketball. That’s what makes it fun — riding the highs and lows of the season, relishing the 50-point blowouts and overreacting to the 3-point losses. When the regular season is all told, I’m sure the Celtics will be sitting very near the top of the standings, and what really matters is what happens in May and June. I know that rationally and emotionally.