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.
Here’s what we know:
• The Celtics are 14-32 in games in which they either led or trailed by five points during the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Those 46 games are tied for second most in the league behind only Toronto (51), and Boston’s .304 winning percentage in that category is second worst to only basement-dwelling Milwaukee (.237 winning percentage in 38 such games).
• Narrow that criteria to the final three minutes of a one-possession game (+/- 3 points) and Boston is 11-25 (.306 winning percentage) while still tied for the second-most instances (36). What stands out is the Celtics’ offensive struggles in those games, with Boston shooting just 32.8 percent during that crunch-time block and being a league-worst minus-55 in plus/minus under that scenario.
• In the final minute of a one-possession game (+/- 3 points), Boston is 10-20 and its stat line is even more cringeworthy as the Celtics shoot 27.5 percent and have been outscored by 25.
• What’s maybe most incredible is how much Boston struggles in coming from behind in close games. When tied or behind by five or fewer points during the final five minutes of a game, the Celtics are just 6-32 (.158 winning percentage). When the Celtics are tied or down by three or fewer entering the final 30 seconds of a game, they are 2-19 (.095 winning percentage).
In the big picture, Boston’s problem is simple: The team simply doesn’t make enough plays when it matters most. Truth be told, Stevens would prefer his team play well enough over the first 43 minutes of games to prevent it from even being in those tight situations so often. But good teams find ways to win those sorts of games and Stevens wants his team to thrive when they are in clutch situations.
ESPN Boston - Celtics, Stevens tiring of near misses
Red as a newborn, white as a corpse…
Aside from a handful of some fine shellackings, the Celtics have actually played relatively hard for most of the season. Sure there was the game in Houston where they didn’t show up until the second quarter, but by then the Rockets were already up by roughly 857 points. There was also the game at Denver where they might as well stayed home, instead of getting destroyed. The recent visit to the nations capital, the pre-Christmas visit to Indiana and the home destruction at the hands of the Warriors all come to mind as games that were simply wire-to-wire, take-you-out-to-the-woodshed-beatings. But for the most part, they have competed with a team that almost always has far less talent than their opponent.
As highlighted in Chris Forsberg’s fantastic post, he goes over each painful breakdown of just how close they’ve been several times this season. Unlike say, the Lakers, who give up about 150 points every other game and get throttled by an average of 47 points. I’m clearly exaggerating but it is good to see the actual figures that back it up. Stevens is understandably losing sleep over all of this, and I’m guessing even hitting big on the lottery would only alleviate that temporarily. Mainly because he’s the type of guy that is constantly working to get better and simply hitting the lottery won’t be enough in his mind.
And that’s good. It shouldn’t be. There’s plenty to be encouraged about from this rebuilding year and one of them is Stevens’ resolve. What all of this also highlights is the obvious: you need the horses and especially the talent to close games out in the NBA. Paul Pierce was doing it for years here and once he got even more help, well everyone knows the rest. Stevens knows this, and I can’t wait to see what he can do when he gets the requisite talent to fulfill his passion. (by the way, if you got the lyric I used in the open, I’m impressed)
On page 2, Wiggins has suddenly leaped to #1 on the C’s board:
The Celtics are going out in true tanking fashion, having lost their last eight games. They could catch the Magic for that No. 3 spot, and I think that’s where GM Danny Ainge is hoping his team can land. We’ve had Jabari Parker at No. 1 for the Celtics for most of the season with Embiid No. 2, but it’s time to revise it (unless Embiid’s back injury turns out to be nothing). We now have the Celtics with Wiggins at No. 1, Parker No. 2 and Embiid No. 3.
This is what I love about all of these mock drafts, etc, especially from Chad Ford. All season we’ve been reading that Jabari Parker and even Joel Embiid have been tops on the C’s green draft board. Now, all of a sudden, Andrew Wiggins is THE guy. Hey I’m all for it if they get him or Parker, I just find it hilarious that he’s now number one, with absolutely zero reason cited.
The rest of the links:
Taunton Daily Gazette - Raynham soldier recovering from IED blast gets special visit from Boston Red Sox, Celtics