Wow, it is POURING rain right now. You know what rain reminds me of? Basketball. Why? It doesn’t, but more importantly our Boston Celtics have been back in action for almost a week now. A nine-day all-star break is asinine, by the way. What do I do at night other than sit on the couch and watch basketball? Do I watch something else? Do they even have anything else on TV anymore? Beats me. But what doesn’t beat me is the Celtics. They beat the teams they play in their games, which is good. If you told me the Celtics were gonna go 3-0 coming off the break, I would say “You’re right, because that’s what happened!”
I think this is partly (mostly) due to the return of Marcus Smart. It’s always a plus to have a big tough scary bulldog on the floor, especially when he’s really good at basketball. Smart’s defensive impact is obviously noticeable, but I think his contributions on offense go under-appreciated. I must admit, I am the first one who screams “NO” when he shoots anything from outside the paint. However, his passing and cutting are utterly picturesque, to put it simply. You can see the way he moves off the ball when Al (Horford) or Kyrie (Irving) have it, and how that sets up both him and them for open shots. Always finding open space on the floor. He may not be the flashiest or most skilled offensive player, but he sure is Smart! (Like his last name)
What Marcus lacks in flash, Kyrie more than makes up for it. He has proven to be worth everything the C’s gave up for him. From Chris Forsberg, ESPN’s Celtics reporter:
Kyrie Irving before the All-Star break: "I have to figure out a way to get this group to another gear.”
Kyrie, including tonight, in 4 games since the All-Star break:
27.0 PTS (108 in 114 min)
53.8 FG% (39 of 67)
52.3 3PT% (19 of 35)
— Chris Forsberg (@ESPNForsberg) March 1, 2018
Seriously though, he has kicked it into a whole new gear since he left LA. 52.3 percent from three since the break? I know it’s a small sample, but still, with this type of shooting from your best player, it’s hard to lose games. All the young guys on this team better follow suit because I can tell he’s gearing up for a run at the Finals. He knows what it takes, and he wants it. We’ll see if the young guys can step it up a bit too. Guys like Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier stepping up late in the season will go miles in the playoffs, where depth is crucial. The Celtics have the edge in talent against most teams, but they lack in experience. These guys gotta soak it all up from Kyrie and Al (to an extent) if they don’t want that lack of experience to bite them.
This is a HUGE game coming up against the Rockets on Saturday. We all remember that 26-point comeback a few months ago. I’d prefer to not have to do that this time, but knowing the Celtics, they’ll be down by 8-12 with 10 minutes to go and then they’ll pull a 15-3 run out of the clouds and win. This game should be a good test for the playoffs; the Rockets are probably the best team in the NBA right now, and if they can lock them down in their own arena, that’ll be a huge confidence boost. Confidence is key with this team, because when they’re slumping, oh my god are they awful. But whatever mojo they have got going right now is working, and they are very much not awful. Keep it up fellas.