For the third time in four games, the Boston Celtics can’t find a rhythm in the first quarter.
Wednesday night featured another frustrating start for the Boston Celtics. In a home loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Brad Stevens and company failed to get anything going offensively, going 8-19 from the floor on 42 percent shooting in the first quarter.
The C’s spent the first seven minutes of the game throwing up brick after brick, as Gordon Hayward manufactured their only field goal until the five-minute mark.
The initial offensive struggles allowed the Spurs to quickly acquire a 21-3 lead off the backs of DeMar DeRozan‘s dribble-cut wizardry and LeMarcus Aldridge’s potent bully ball.
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The Celtics anemic first quarter play is nothing new in 2019.
According to NBA stats, Boston ranks 26th out of 30 in points per game in the first, averaging 26 points for the whole season and 22 in their last three games. Despite winning two of their last four, the Boston Celtic’s languid effort has stuck out like a sore thumb.
This horrid trend started early Friday night when the Atlanta Hawks came to town for Boston’s first official contest of 2020.
The C’s were stuck at 11 points while Trae Young and his perm stunned Boston with an early 20-point lead. The Celtics would eventually go on to win because, well, they were facing the Atlanta Hawks.
After taking care of business against the Chicago Bulls on Sunday, Boston once again found themselves lost in the sauce against a dreadful Washington Wizards team who’s best player was hurt, and their backup best player is a 5’9″ 30 year-old who hasn’t seen the light of day since his tenure in Boston (Isaiah Thomas).
The Celtics would lose that one thanks to a slow start and Ish Smith‘s bonkers second half where he rattled off 28 points off the bench. I think I’d rather lose to Young and his perm.
Inconsistency on display vs. Spurs
The apex of this inconsistent 2020 came in a heartless showing against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night. Aldridge was able to exploit the size difference against Daniel Theis, and DeRozan was able to get whatever shot he wanted because of lackluster defense.
Even the fantastic Marcus Smart couldn’t inject life into the team on his day of recognition by CSN. Even worse, Lonnie Walker IV found heat off the bench with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, He played the Ish Smith role if you will, finding open jumpers off the elbow every time a pick was set at the key because Enes Kanter can’t put his hands up.
The Boston Celtics normally find their own open shots to the start the game due to Coach Stevens’ great managing of X’s and O’s, but nothing seems to drop.
Jaylen Brown has seemingly gone into his old habits recently, clanking threes rather than using his brute strength to get to the rack with ease. And boy, did the Celtics suck in the paint. The Spurs out-rebounded them by 10 and outscored them by 14, stats that only strengthen my argument against Kanter’s ability to play big minutes. Theis plays much harder despite an obvious size difference. It’s too bad he’ll probably have to cover Pascal Siakam and Joel Embiid at some point int he playoffs.
In the meantime, Kemba Walker was back in the lineup after a recent illness kept him out for the past four games.
The C’s went on a stellar run to begin the third quarter, cutting the lead to seven before the referees decided to bludgeon the star player with two technicals after Walker argued an obvious missed foul call. That whole sequence basically took the air out of the arena before the Spurs went on their own 17-3 run to put their lead back to 21.
Despite how egregious the call was, I hope the referee who incited everything left the court as quick as possible after the game. Apparently fans were throwing alcohol on the court Detroit Pistons style, acting as if the ref had the letter “A” ingrained on his chest. Us Boston fans are wild.
The momentum shifted nonetheless.
To point fingers at officials though is petty an and downright inexcusable. The Boston Celtics couldn’t get much going, and when they did, Brad Wanamaker would step out-of-bounds or Jayson Tatum would take his thousandth terrible three of the season. There was a general lack of effort on both sides of court, something Stevens needs to address before another difficult matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday night.
Apparently Embiid is out which is good news for a team who can’t find their footing in the paint. Maybe Tacko Fall will magically turn into the next Yao Ming. Or, maybe they’ll finally have a stout first quarter.
Either will do.