AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
By Patrick Whalen
The Boston Celtics were set to take on the Charlotte Hornets last night but lets flash back to friday night real quick. After their blowout loss at home to the Bucks, which made the celtics losing streak 3 straight games, the Celtics had a players only, closed door meeting postgame and it wasn’t a short one. Reporters are normally allowed in about 15 minutes after the game ends but they weren’t allowed in until 35 minutes post game (NBC Sports Boston). After reporters were let in they of course wanted to know what was said in the meeting. The closest thing they could get was this quote from Kyrie Irving
”Obviously, some selfish play out there where we have some really talented guys but we’re better as a team sharing the basketball, and if it’s late in the shot clock that’s when we start shooting our [isolation] plays, as opposed to, if we have nothing in transition, shooting with 16 or 17 on the clock. Or shooting a fadeaway, something like that. I get caught up in that as well. For me, it’s a hard challenge because there’s a balance I have. I literally can do anything I want out there, but at the same time, it’s what can I do for my teammates to be more successful. I have to be very conscious of that.”
What Irving and some of the veterans are looking for is for the younger players to look for better shots rather than try and force their shots either earlier in the shot clock or on fadeaways. What Kyrie wants these young guys, Tatum, Brown, and Rozier, to understand is that they do not need them to be what they were during last years playoff run. Obviously some nights they’ll be the hot hand and need to take over or step up while other players aren’t having the best night offensively but they seem to try and force their scoring more often than not. With Irving and Hayward back this year they want to work on getting the best shot off down the offensive end. What Kyrie also talked about was sacrificing, everyone needs to sacrifice a little because of all the talent this team has. Guys like Tatum, Brown and Rozier can’t be expecting 10+ shots a night just like how Kyrie, Hayward and Horford can’t expect 15+ shots a night. This team just has too much talent to be throwing up bad shots, they should be getting good looks the majority of the time down the floor if they just move the ball more.
Besides having the meeting the celtics also got two other big boosts as both Al Horford and Marcus Morris returned to the lineup. Horford after missing 7 games with a knee issue and Morris after missing the last 2 games with his own knee issue. That left just Aron Baynes on the injury report with his broken left hand. With both Morris and Horford back this is the healthiest the Celtics have been in over 2 weeks.
Offensively the Celtics were led by Kyrie as he had 25 points on just 9-12 shooting with 17 of the 25 coming in the first quarter on 6-7 shooting including this early pull up three.
Tatum also got off to a hot start and despite cooling off in the second half he still had 17 points on 6-13 shooting.
Morris and Horford mad their presence felt as they were both back in the starting lineup with Irving, Smart, and Tatum. Morris had 12 points on 5-10 shooting with 8 rebounds. Horford meanwhile had 10 points on 4-4 shooting with 6 rebounds and 5 assits including this lob from Rozier.
The Celtics had just a slim 3 point lead after the first quarter but outscored the Hornets 39-21 in the second quarter to take a 21 point lead into the half. The Celts kept their foot on the gas in the third as they led by 27 points heading into the fourth quarter. The Hornets managed to cut the final defficet to 16 points as the Celtics won by a final score of 119-103 but it could have been much more if it weren’t for the third stringers coming in to play the last minutes. With the Celtics blowing out the Hornets it allowed for bench players to get some good production. Terry Rozier had 9 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists. Gordon Hayward had 8 points and 7 rebounds including this back door lob from Rozier.
Daniel Theis also had 10 points and Jaylen Brown had 8 points. Williams and Ojeleye each got over 11 minutes on the floor with a mostly healthy roster and Wanamaker and Yabusele each got over 6 minutes. As a team the Celtics shot 50% from the floor but just 33% from the from three. Morris and Horford also made their impact felt on the glass as the Celts won the rebounding battle for the first time in 3 games as they outrebounded Charlotte 47-37 (Basketball-Refernce.com).
The Hornets still had some good offensive production from their stars. Kemba Walker had 21 points on 8-15 shooting. Jeremy Lamb had 14 points and 5 assits. But the other 3 starters, Batum, William, and Zeller, combined for just 14 points. Much like the Celtics the Hornets played their reserves to get them some floor time. Willy Hernangomez had another good performance against the Celts with 19 points and 10 rebounds in just 23 minutes off the bench. Second year man out of Kentucky Malik Monk had 13 points on 4-8 shooting. Plus Rookies Devonte Graham and Miles Bridges each had good performaces. Graham had 7 points and 5 assits in just 12 minutes and Bridges had just 3 points but also had 7 rebounds and 3 assists (Basketball-Refernce.com).
The Celts are now 19-13 on the season and sit 4.5 games out of first place in the eastern confernce. Up next the boys in green have a big matchup against the Sixers as a part of ESPNs Christmas day line up. The Celtics will be the 3rd game on the 5 game slate starting at 5:30. After that the Celtics will finish up 2018 with a 3 game western conference road trip with Rockets, Grizzlies and finishing up with the Spurs on New Years Eve. With the Celtics new found health they could, if they win out, finish the year at a 24-13 record. The Sixers do pose a new challenge to the Celtics as this will be the first time the two will matchup since the Sixers acquired Jimmy Butler. This matchup has huge playoff implications so lets see if the Celtics can get on another win streak now that they are healthy again.