Celtics Avoid Collapse in Indiana
Despite the win on Tuesday night, I could start this thing off being negative, I really could. But, I told myself I wouldn’t do that. At the end of the day, the Celtics came away with a 114-111 win on the road against a tough Indiana Pacers team. Jayson Tatum lead the way with 30 points on 11-22 (3-9) shooting with 6 boards. He looked in control all night and was able to get exactly what he wanted on the offensive end. He was no slouch on the defensive end either coming away with four steals and finding ways to disrupt passing lanes throughout all four quarters. Indiana native Gordon Hayward felt right at home on Tuesday night. Hayward had 27 shooting 10-19 (3-7) along with 10 boards and 5 assists. He’s just looked so much more comfortable these past two games. This is the Gordon Hayward the Celtics paid for, we just need to see him on a more consistent basis.
The Celts have been nothing short of inconsistent since coming back from the All-Star break, but one thing has remained constant: Daniel Theis. With Tatum and Hayward being in the zone, Theis quietly put up 20 points shooting 8-12 (2-2) adding 6 boards and 3 assists. The guy just knows his role so well, and knows how to produce in it. For a team that had questions about the center position most of the year, Theis has been the answer. He’s climbing up the list of my favorite Celtics and quickly becoming one of the more underrated centers in the league. We got some early Romeo Langford minutes in this one, folks! Now, he only played 10 minutes and went 0-4 from the field, but it was still nice to see him in the rotation. It looks like Brad is starting to trust him more and I think with more consistent minutes, he’ll find his groove offensively.
It’s time for the bad stuff now people. It was another double digit lead heading into the 4th quarter, and the Celtics fell apart….again. For whatever reason they started exclusively playing isolation ball and all the ball movement that helped create the nice lead went away. These guys had 17 assists as a team at the start of the 4th and ended with 19. Two assists in the 4th…..TWO!?!?!?!? I don’t know if it’s coaching or if the players are just getting out of attack mode, but whatever it is needs to stop for the sake of my well being. I need Kemba to start knocking the cobwebs off, too. He had another tough shooting night going 3-12 from the field, including 2-8 from three point land. I have full confidence he’ll get back to where he was before the injury, but my patience is running thin.
I wish Brad went with Robert Williams instead of Enes Kanter in this one. Kanter has never been very stout defensively, and tonight he got exposed. Whenever he was in, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner got whatever they wanted. Not to say Williams would’ve totally shut them down, but with his defensive ability he surely would have made their lives a little bit tougher in the paint. Honestly, I don’t think anyone had plans to stop Sabonis in this one, he went crazy. Sabonis torched the C’s all night putting up 28 points on 13-23 shooting along with 9 boards and 8 assists. The Pacer starters were just awesome in general. Victor Oladipo added 27 points and 7 boards, TJ Warren had 22 points, 5 boards and Turner had 16 points, 8 boards and 4 blocks. Again, this is a solid Pacers team who will give whoever they play in the playoffs a run for their money. But, when you’re up 14 and playing the way the Celtics were for the first three quarters, you shouldn’t only win by 3.
Still, a win is a win and I’ll take it, but it only gets tougher from here. The Celts head to Milwaukee on Thursday for a battle with the No. 1 seed in the East. However, the Bucks could be without the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. If this is the case, I expect the Celts to take full advantage. Jaylen Brown could be making his return Thursday night, but that remains to be seen. If Brown plays Thursday, expect him to sit the second leg of the back-to-back on Friday against the Wizards, and if he doesn’t play I would bet they hold him until Sunday’s game in Chicago.
It felt good to be back in the win column, but please……stop blowing 4th quarter leads.