The Celtics had a lot of opportunities to win last night’s game, but in the end, they were outclassed by an soon-to-be All Star (and soon-to-be max contract player, probably) in DeMar DeRozan. There shouldn’t be any shame in losing to the second seed in the conference, but, of course, there was a lot of frustration after last night’s game.
Here’s the good and the bad..
1: Kelly Olynynk’s play
Kelly Olynyk is on fire right now. Yes, it’s true he’s been inconsistent overall, but there’s one thing that’s undeniable… he’s the team’s best 3-point threat.
.@KellyOlynyk ranks fifth in the Eastern Conference in 3-point percentage (43.3%) among the 81 players who have attempted at least 75 3s.
— Marc D’Amico (@Marc_DAmico) January 21, 2016
He had a very efficient night again last night, hitting 3 of 5 from 3, 4 of 5 from 2, and 1 of 1 from the line for 86.2% true shooting. If this keeps up, Olynyk will show up in Blake Griffin’s “the zone” commercials. Scroll down for the flip side to Olynyk’s recent play.
2: Jonas Jerebko’s shooting
It’s taken a while, but Jerebko’s shooting continues to find its way back to normal. He only took 4 shots last night but he made 3 (2 of them 3’s) and his true shooting percentage has made a steady month-to-month progression:
He’s probably best used in a 15-20 minute per game role, which means his shot needs to be on pretty much right away. The Celtics can’t wait for him to shoot his way out of an 0-5 start to the game. He needs to basically come off the bench hot, and he’s doing that a little more often lately.
3: Bae Crowder
Is anyone having a better month than this guy?
Well, yes, a lot of people, statistically, but if you adjust for expectations, then no, I’d say not. I’m not going to get into crazy numbers here… I’m just going to enjoy this moment in Crowder’s progression.
4: Evan Turner
I’m going to pause from my anti-Turner campaign for a moment to say he had a not horrible offensive game. 11 points on 4-6 shooting, no 3 point attempts, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 turnovers in 22:38.
He couldn’t guard DeMar DeRozan at all though… not even a little bit. But then again, no one else could last night.
There. I said something sort of nice about Evan Turner. That’s my quota for the month.
1: Kelly Olynyk’s involvement
Olynyk was Boston’s best offensive player last night yet he only got 10 shots, and finished the game with a 15% usage rate. Only Marcus Smart and Amir Johnson finished a lower percent of Boston’s possessions while on the floor. By contrast, Jared Sullinger, who was terrible (more on that in a minute) finished with the team’s second-highest usage rate last night (34.9%). This is unacceptable. Kelly is not entirely innocent here. He’s got to be more aggressive in demanding the ball in these situations. He has to understand that he is, at worst, the third-best offensive option on the team (I only rank Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder ahead of him. Sorry Avery Bradley). Not only does Olynyk have to demand the ball more, Thomas has to trust Olynyk more to be that guy who can relieve the offensive pressure down the stretch. Like I said last night, I love Thomas and what he means to this offense, but I’m still not enamored with his play at the end of most games. The chip on his shoulder grows too big at the end, and it doesn’t always work out in Boston’s favor. Olynyk needs more touches in those final 5 minutes. Dare I say the offense needs to run through him in those instances… which would allow some off the ball action to get Thomas or Jae Crowder open for cleaner looks. However it happens, it needs to happen. It won’t always work, and he’ll have bad games again, but it’s time to pump up his role to push him to that next level.
2: Jared Sullinger This kid is having the opposite month that Kelly is having. He’s shooting 43% over his last 10 games, and a tick under that for January as a whole. It’s up from the 36% he shot in December, but still.. woof. Here’s his shot chart from last night Part of it might be a wrist injury. Part of it might be something else. But if he’s going to be out there, then he needs to fix this. He’s asked to do a lot, and his defense is a bit underrated, and the Celtics need his rebounding… these are all true facts. However, there will come a time where his lack of shooting will outweigh the positives. I know Sullinger is a better shooter than this. If he needs to take a couple of games off to get right, then he should, because he’s not doing himself any favors trying to play through whatever he’s playing through.
3: Where’s the D?
The Celtics have not only given up 100+ points in 7 of the last 8 games, they’re giving up an average of just under 109 in that stretch and just under 117 over the past 3. I’m amazed the Celtics are even 3-5 over that stretch. There’s been too much of this going on lately
Avery Bradley: “We were trying to exchange baskets with them and I feel like whenever we do that, we’re usually not successful.”
— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) January 21, 2016
The formula for Boston’s success is, has been, and will be for at least the duration of this season, defense first, points off turnovers, and then after that, a half court offense fueled mostly by Isaiah Thomas scoring or distributing. Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk are rising as good options in the half court, and Avery Bradley can be a good scorer as well, but these aren’t takeover guys or shot-for-shot, “win a shootout” guys.
Maybe these guys will get back to playing defense when they’re done auditioning for All Star spots.
4: Marcus Smart’s awareness
This is just a matter of getting more reps at the point guard spot, but Marcus needs to learn that pick and roll a lot better to become a long-term centerpiece on this team. I’m not suggesting that he won’t or can’t, I’m just saying he needs to do it. The injuries have set him back, and it’s only his second year, so this requires patience. Still, it’s a thing that’s happening, and it needs to be fixes.