The Boston Celtics managed to take the Cleveland Cavaliers to overtime but went on to lose 132-123, receiving their seventh loss at home dating back to last year. This was surprisingly a winnable game for the Celtics despite being undersized. Let’s get into it.
It’s worth a quick mention this was the first game in the Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum era where the Celtics lost a game when the pair scored 30 or more points each. They are now 13-1 all-time in those games.
Although Tatum finished with 32 points, he was ice cold in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring only two points in overtime and zero in the fourth quarter. He needs to do a better job acknowledging when his shots aren’t falling and start doing other things to help the team, like facilitating and creating down the stretch. Anything would’ve helped more than missed shots.
Brown played well for the most part. He found his way to the basket with ease, showing he’s stronger than Evan Mobley and Donovan Mitchell on a few occasions. The negative with Brown in this game was his four missed free throws and team-high six turnovers.
Al Horford played 41 minutes, which I don’t think is so great but Al played well in this game after having four days off. He finished 5-7 from the floor for 12 points and four assists but only had two rebounds as the primary big man for the Celtics. Horford was noticeably slow compared to some of the Cavs he was matched up against. I like Al playing a solid 25 minutes per night, 41 is just too much.
Luke Kornet played well in a larger role for the first time this season. He logged 26 minutes, the most for any player on the bench and Derrick White, who started the game. Kornet finished with four points, five rebounds, and three assists. He played well on both ends of the court despite being dunked on in a HUGE poster from Donovan Mitchell. Kornet turned a lot of heads on Friday night as Horford’s primary backup to the center position.
Marcus Smart didn’t shoot the ball well in this game at all, finishing 3-15 from the field and only made two of his team-high nine 3-pointers. He also added seven assists and five rebounds and two steals and four fouls in his 38 minutes. Unfortunately this was a game of old habits on offense for Smart.
I don’t have much to say about the bench. I thought they did their part from what I saw on a night without Grant Williams who served a one game suspension for making contact with an official and directing inappropriate language towards her.
In all, the Celtics need to take more of a priority on defense and I’m surprised to see Joe Mazzulla continue to keep the focus on the offensive end. Even more so since Mazzulla has been around this team for a while and he was part of a system that finally worked well for this group. Why he’s shying away from it doesn’t make sense to me just yet.
The Celtics take on the Wizards at 6PM on Sunday afternoon.
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Photo Credit: David Butler II, USA TODAY Sports