After a tough loss almost a week ago to the Bulls, the Celtics got their revenge on their home court. In a redemption game for sure, the Celts were going into the game with a huge disadvantage. Al Horford not being able to play due to entering concussion protocol left the Celtics at a huge disadvantage at the center position. But, with an injury comes breakout performances from players you wouldn’t expect them from.
Although they came out victorious, other injuries may cost us in the next coming weeks. But with an injury came a return, and the return of Marcus Smart is huge. Here’s the good and bad of the “redemption game” versus the Bulls.
- Amir Johnson single-handedly shot the Celtics to victory, like the title of the article says. Amir “Wade’d” the Bulls, as I’d like to say. Dwyane hit four unnecessary threes last time we matched up, and Amir returned the favor. Take that Chicago; we have our own guy that’s lowkey filthy at shooting threes. I’ve seen Amir hit a three before, so when he hit one, I wasn’t shocked at all. I was very excited, but not shocked. Then he hit another and I was thinking, “okay, he’s open and couldn’t pass up the shot.” Then he hit a third, and I started to think he’s been training with former Boston Celtic Ray Allen on how to shoot threes. Finally, he hit a fading three out of bounds in the corner, and that’s when he stole my heart.
Amir had a pretty damn good night, and it came at the right time. With Al Horford missing last night’s game, as well as tonight’s game against Cleveland, Amir needs to continue to step up. I’m not asking him to shoot lights out from three, nobody else is either. Nobody thought he could even do that. But his hustle play and ability to do anything on the court will help this team while we continue to deal with injuries. If Amir keeps shooting, and keep making threes, I don’t know who’s going to stop us. Really…
- Marcus Smart made a triumphant return last night, which also couldn’t have come at a better time. He did a little of everything, which is what he’s known to do. He finished with seven points, five rebounds, and five assists, not to mention his breathtaking defensive efforts. He’s the perfect player for this Boston team and honestly one of the most valuable. Having a player that comes off the bench and sparks the team like he does is so valuable to have. He can be put in with the starters and defends multiple positions. When Marcus, Isaiah, and Bradley are on the court at the same time, it’s absolutely magical. With two of the best on-ball defenders in the league on the court, Isaiah isn’t as much as a defensive liability as he usually would be. Isaiah can continue to stay in the game and burn defenses while Smart and AB (who also burns defenses) do the dirty work. He committed six turnovers, but that’s an issue that can be resolved. It’s so good to have Smart back, especially now with Crowder going down. He played 34 minutes last night, but expect him to see more time on the court, especially with the starting lineup.
- The three point shooting looked great once again. Boston shot 14-32 (43.8%) from behind the arc, led by Amir Johnson and Isaiah, who each made four of their own. Crowder even was shooting 2-2 from three before he went out with an injury. It’s obvious to see the Celtics three point shooting has improved from last season. If the Celtics continue to make their threes, especially early in the game (six in the first quarter), then that spells trouble for the league.
- Isaiah Thomas continued to stay hot to start the season, scoring 23 points and dishing out ten assists. This is the second straight game where Isaiah either tied for the most points or wasn’t the leading scorer on the team, which isn’t a bad thing. Seeing other players (Avery Bradley vs. Hornets and Amir Johnson vs. Bulls) step up and help balance the scoring attack takes a huge load off of Isaiah’s shoulders, as I’ve said in previous blog posts. Isaiah is looking good this season and is projected to average two more points and a little over an assist more than last season. #TwoTimeAllStarAlert
- Injuries. Ughhhhhhhhhh. Jae Crowder was looking so good so far this season and of course he goes down with an ankle injury. The injury bug needs to leave the Celtics alone. Al Horford got hit in the head at practice and experienced symptoms for a concussion. Come onnnnnnn. Now’s not the time. The Celtics responded well against the Bulls, but Cleveland is a different animal. No Al or Jae will be a huge issue moving forward. Jae’s injury isn’t too serious; he’ll miss at least a week, but coach Stevens doesn’t think he’ll play anytime soon. Hopefully Al will be able to play after we face Cleveland, because I can’t stand seeing Tyler Zeller seeing extended playing time. There’s no word on how long he’ll be out, but hopefully he’ll return quickly.
- Rebounding still continues to be an issue, especially now with Al Horford out. We didn’t give up a bazillion offensive rebounds like the previous matchup, but we still gave up 15. We grabbed 10 of our own, but we need to focus on not allowing as many offensive rebounds and giving up second-chance points. Another game, another 14 rebound differential.
- Besides Smart, the bench didn’t look too good once again. 27 points from the bench is not enough scoring, especially when we end the game with 107 points and the starters had to score 80. Smart, like I said, was a huge spark for the bench, which is awesome and everything, but now he’s probably either going to start and/or spend most of his time playing with the starters for the time being, so there goes that spark plug. Somebody on the bench needs to step up with all these injuries occurring, especially against Cleveland. Kelly, buddy, are you good? I miss you man. We need you back, like, now. So… Get on that.
- The free throw shooting needs to improve ASAP. 64 percent from the line isn’t going to cut it, especially when we’re giving up 31 free throw attempts. We need to find a way to get to the line more than 17 times, and we need to find a way to hit our damn free throws. We need to quit giving up so many fouls and getting into the bonus literally two minutes into the game. It’s so frustrating to watch. Get your stuff together Boston.
Besides the injuries and blowing a 14 point lead, all in all, it was a pretty good game. If Amir didn’t explode, it might have been a different story, but I’m not going to complain. Isaiah is looking like the All-Star he was last year, but better. Marcus Smart is back, and he already stole my heart, so that’s good too. I can’t wait for these injuries to stop plaguing this team, so we can show off how good of a team we are when everybody’s healthy. I’m counting down the days till that finally happens.
Screw you James Young for getting 10 seconds of playing time. I still miss you RJ. I shed a tear seeing you on the opposing bench, getting zero minutes.
Four down, 78 to go. On to Cleveland. #3-1 #AllAbout18