Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
Boston is averaging 22.5 points per game in the first quarter, ranking 27th in the league. The good news: They’ve been terrific in the second quarter, averaging 25.6 points, which places them eighth in the league. The bad news: The Celtics have been terrible again in the third quarter, averaging 22.1 points and ranking 27th in the league. (In case you’re wondering, Boston averages 22.6 points per game in the fourth quarter, which also ranks 27th.)
Here’s the more telling stat: Boston’s average first-quarter differential is minus-3 points. That’s the worst split of any quarter for the team. Boston is plus-1.7 points in the second; minus-1.8 in the third; and minus-1.6 in the fourth. The Celtics are playing teams close to even for the final three quarters, but the first quarters are putting them in a tough position.
Boston has had a handful of fast starts this season, which leaves Stevens uncertain what’s causing his team to be slow out of the gates on other nights.
“I can’t put my finger on it, and I wish I could,” Stevens said. “Sometimes you just have to, as an individual or as a team, you just have to tweak something small, part of your routine.
I nearly bailed on last night’s game midway through the 1st quarter. The Celtics were playing defense like a group of hungover 40 year old men. 22 of Memphis’ 27 points came in the paint. This game had the makings of the debacle in Houston.
It’s hard to finger a particular group of players for the slow starts because the rotation has been in flux since the start of the season. Remember the games where Avery Bradley was playing point?
The relatively small margin of scoring differential also makes it hard to isolate blame. Jeff Green averages 4.1 ppg in first quarters and 4.5 ppg in second quarters. Good luck analyzing that.
We can throw some credit at the Celtics bench (ranked 11th in the league in points scored – 34.2 ppg. Courtney Lee has been the only consistent offensive threat in that group.
It has to be an intangible. Let’s be honest, Green, Brandon Bass, and Jordan Crawford aren’t the most demonstrative players on the floor. All three look like they’re capable of napping on a moments notice.
Maybe we need a player who will bang his head against the stanchion. A player who will pound his chest and point at the crowd. A player who will scream expletives into the ears of teammates.
(photo credit – Boston Herald)
On Page 2, Sully the gunner
The 6-foot-9 widebody did his part and then some down the stretch, coming in with 10:31 left and bulling his way inside for three hoops and a free throw (as part of a 3-point play). Sullinger then stepped out to the arc to hit a pair of treys on consecutive possessions as the C’s began to make it interesting with a little more than a minute left.
He later converted a couple of offensive rebounds to make things even tighter.
“I just wanted to win,” Sullinger said. “I mean, honestly, we kind of let everybody come in and take control of our home court advantage, and I just wanted to keep fighting.
“That team gave up a 10-point lead with like a minute to go against Houston or something crazy like that (the Rockets outscored the Grizzlies by 15 in the last period and won by seven on Monday). I felt like it was an opportunity for me to assert myself and just try to score the basketball.”
Sullinger finished the night 2-for-3 on 3-pointers, and coach Brad Stevens later said he’d like perhaps his best low-post scorer to take even more long range attempts if they are available.
“He constantly tells me to take the open shot,” Sullinger said of Stevens. “He’s always in my ear about shooting the ball. Sometimes I feel comfortable shooting it; sometimes I don’t.
“It’s just a mindset. I’ve got to understand that if they’re going to give me that shot, I’ve got to take it.”
Love the fight in this kid. Maybe he can develop into the emotional leader of this team I reference above.
Still not a fan of the three point shooting. Why can’t he just move in another foot or two? Makes all the difference in the world. See Garnett, Kevin. (Go ahead, scream at me for making two KG references in one post).
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. Relax, stuff your face and appreciate all the truly important things in your world.
The rest of the links:
Herald – Celtics clawed up early | TA’s game fits Grizz | Still plenty of homework to do | CSNNE – Lee finds success in limiting 3s | Down too deep | Poor start costly | Globe – Celtics rally comes up short | Tony Allen is one the Celtics should have let get away |