Ah, the comforts of the parquet and the presence of some new threads are right around the corner. It’ll be like a breath of fresh air for the boys in green and white after what has gone down over the past few days. Joe Mazzulla and his Boston Celtics return to the TD Garden for an in-season tournament clash with the Brooklyn Nets following a three-game road trip where the green dropped the final two contests.
Progress is not by any means linear. Sometimes you have to go back down the mountain for a while before you can continue to move upward. No matter how much talent a ball club possesses. Boston is going to have its ups and downs like every other team across the association.
One can get nitpicky, but what’s the point? This team is just fine. We’re seven games in, so why focus on the negatives? Let’s examine three positives from the past two losses, providing you with some encouragement before the Boston Celtics tip off this unique twist to the regular season.
3 positives from the Boston Celtics’ two-game road skid
No. 1: Derrick White’s aggression coming off two missed games
Straight from the hospital, Derrick White showed no signs of rust. He may have not given birth to the baby, but still. In his first 10 minutes back in the starting lineup since missing the last two games, White netted a team-high seven points, dished out three assists, and snatched four rebounds.
Game by game, the former San Antonio Spur continues to inform the public that he is Brad Stevens’ best move yet since transitioning to the front office. The guard has played through everything since moving to the East Coast, missing games only for the births of his first and second child. It just felt odd not to see him out there. Google may not have White as one of the first two definitions of reliability, but it should. Not only was it nice to see the 29-year-old knock down some shots, it was a pleasure to watch him play defense again. The Colorado product limited Tyrese Maxey to 1-6 from the field. That’s the same Maxey that some think is Joel Embiid’s sidekick.
Since he became more assertive on the offensive end, Boston’s ceiling of success has jumped dramatically. It is not like he is overly aggressive though. That’s one of the best parts about his game. No. 9 knows when its his time, and when its one of his teammates times.
No. 2: Jrue Holiday’s defense against Karl-Anthony Towns and Joel Embiid
There is no way this man gets enough credit for what he does night in and night out on the floor. There are the ones that can guard one through five, and then there’s Jrue Holiday. The former Milwaukee Buck is well overmatched when it comes to height by Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns. He more than makes up for it with his staggering strength and relentlessness. White is not the only guy on the team that can be labeled “Mr. Do-It-All” now.
It was quite interesting to see Holiday start right from the jump on those guys. It’s without a doubt something to keep an eye on in future matchups. Will he get worn down? Who knows, but for now all we can do is marvel at his brilliance. According to the NBA’s tracking data, the former NBA champion held the defending league MVP to just two points in 22.3 possessions played. Yes, you read that right. No need to do a double-take.
Don’t forget what occurred in Minnesota. Towns was a complete non-factor. In the high-post, on the perimeter, or in the paint. It didn’t matter, No. 4 in green gave the stretch big nightmares all over the floor.
No. 3: Sam Hauser has begun to get going offensively after a slow start
It was early, but Sam Hauser was not knocking down shots from the great beyond, arguably the only reason why he is out on the floor in the first place. Some of us were watching Aaron Nesmith and wishing he former lottery pick was still in the club’s rotation. Since beginning the season 4-16 from beyond the arc, the Wisconsin native has knocked down over 55% of his threes. In 19 minutes on the floor in Philadelphia this week, Hauser shot 5-8, three of those being from downtown.
When he gets hot, the opposition should bring out a fire extinguisher. That may not even work. Boston needs offensive production from players outside of its starting five. His confidence is growing by the minute. Hauser is going to get his chances off the bench, and it looks like, as of now, he’s taking them. No. 30 unlocks a new layer to the Boston Celtics’ halfcourt offense, constantly moving around the perimeter for a potential kick-out. If his steady contributions continue on top of the two Jays rebounding offensively, a winning streak has to be around the corner.