Another mid-December game and another frustrating loss for your Boston Celtics. Wednesday’s contest against the Indiana Pacers was a unique one to say the least.
Fans watching the mid-week match-up saw two different Celtics teams. First it was the one they’d been watching for the last week and a half, and then the team they’d been watching for the first month and a half of the season.
Boston looked absolutely lost in the first half against Indy. After quickly taking an 8-2 lead over the Pacers, the wheels just fell off. Missed layups, turnovers, ball-watching, as well a few other wonderful things made for a horrendous 24 minutes of hoops. When it was all said and done, the Celtics trailed by 28 points and the Garden faithful let them have it. Fans booed, rightfully so, as the home team trudged to the locker room down 71-43.
Now, take everything you just read about, and imagine the opposite. That’s what the second half consisted of. The Boston Celtics looked completely revitalized as they clawed their way back into the game. They were able to cut the lead to as little as five points, but didn’t wind up getting any further than that. The Cs were all over the place in a good way, causing turnovers, hustling on the offensive glass, and even knocking down a few 3-pointers for the first time in what seems like forever.
Unfortunately, there’s a reason why teams don’t usually come back and win when they go down by 30 points. Things pretty much have to go perfectly, and that didn’t happen. The Pacers made some big time shots to put a halt to the Celtics’ momentum, which was just enough to help them hold on for the win.
Jayson Tatum’s bold statement about the Boston Celtics
Jayson Tatum put together one of the best halves of his career against Indiana. He poured in 28 second half points on an efficient 10/15 from the field. Not to mention that the 24-year-old imposed his will, and got clean looks in the paint throughout. Tatum shot 100% in the paint, sinking all seven of his second half attempts, including a thunderous dunk over former teammate Aaron Nesmith.
Tatum’s monster half wasn’t enough to bring Boston back from the dead, but he certainly revived the team’s energy enough to make it a game. The Cs didn’t really get enough from players not named Tatum to cap off the colossal comeback.
The one exception here was Robert Williams III; he ruled. ‘The Timelord’ made his presence felt, grabbing 12 total rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive end, creating extra possessions for Boston as they climbed back into the game.
After Wednesday’s loss, JT had some bold words, saying:
"“We’ve got to learn how to win again.”"
Can’t argue with that, now can you?
As simple as that statement from Tatum may seem, there’s a lot that goes into it. The Boston Celtics haven’t put together a complete performance for two weeks now. Wednesday’s second half was encouraging for sure, but they should’ve never gotten themselves into such a big hole in the first place. This team has got to stop letting missed shots or blown calls cause them to stop playing hard. Winning means continuing to grind even when things aren’t going right. That’s not something that fans have seen from this team in quite some time. Even in their most recent win against the Los Angeles Lakers they had a collapse. Luckily they put together a comeback of their own and escaped with a win.
In order to get back into the win column on Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Celtics are going to have to build on the things that they did well in the second half. Keep hustling, playing defense, and essentially controlling things that they can control. Boston can’t always control if shots fall, but they can control how they respond when those shots bounce off the rim.