Sometimes, you just have a game where you don’t bring the proper level of effort and focus; other times, there’s nights where nothing goes in — not even wide-open looks.
For the Boston Celtics against the Detroit Pistons on New Year’s Day, they managed to get both of those games at the same time. Early on, it seemed like the team was asleep at the wheel — or perhaps had a little too much fun the night before. But then when the team found its sea legs in the third and fourth quarter, mounting a furious comeback from down as many as 21 points in the first half, Boston couldn’t hit the sea with a pebble.
And while sports momentum may be an illusion of perception, confidence most certainly is not — the Celtics gave their opponents all they needed early, and could never find their own outside of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.
With this in mind, let’s review the highs, lows and inconclusives of the game.
Celtics blow gasket vs. Pistons on New Year’s Day, lose 96-93 on road https://t.co/wRyEfHCLyQ
— The Celtics Wire (@TheCelticsWire) January 2, 2021
The Jay Team was back in full effect, combining for 53 points, 15 boards, 4 steals and 3 blocks, Brown and Tatum the sole players on Boston's roster looking like they came to play for the majority of the game -- though both were guilty of some poor decisions as well. The poor-shooting stretch by Jeff Teague ending is another minor victory for the team, though his 12 points and 3 assists off the bench are what should be expected, and so not exactly something to celebrate, if pleased about. Leadership in losses from the likes of Brown and Tatum is also a good thing to hear, if the sort of good thing you want fewer examples to point to overall. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1345143026356793345?s=20
Playing down to their opponent has long been a vice of the Celtics, and whether it was an error of judgment or some other cause that had Boston deploying a low-energy response to a team desperate for a win, the end result was an avoidable loss. This team also shot terribly, particularly late when it mattered most. And while the shots they took were all defensible, this team as a whole needs to do a better job of attacking the rim when the jumpers aren't connecting. The two-big lineup is not working, at least not with these two. Can Rob Williams III play the four, guarding the perimeter and hitting the midrange jumper he's flashed at moments? If not, some decisions may be in need of making sooner than the team might prefer. https://twitter.com/TheCelticsWire/status/1345434691353120770?s=20
The works in progress
The small gains we saw from the deep rotation never really got a chance to build on their small successes vs. the Grizzlies, but in this we're blaming the starters as much as anyone for that. The end-of-bench players simply cannot get the run they need to prove they belong if the team's best players don't do their job against teams it's conceivable they can afford to play. The rookie who did see the floor -- Payton Pritchard -- had his first bad game for the Celtics, but also managed to at least be helpful while his shot wasn't falling, getting a block, a pair of steals and assists and generally being a pest. There's plenty to build off of from this loss as a teaching moment and a chance at quick redemption with a rematch on Sunday, but this team needs to get its act together in a hurry if it wants to be taken seriously. [jwplayer ViSunks2-z6KDnl0B] [lawrence-related id=45078,45053,45050,45048] [listicle id=45073]