The worst part about this afternoon’s loss was the defense.
I don’t mean that the defense was bad. It was fantastic. Kevin Durant shot just 6-16 from the field. Russell Westbrook managed just 11 field goal attempts. The Thunder overall were 44% from the field and 25% from 3-point range. The Celtics were on point throughout on the defensive end.
What was frustrating about the defense was the way the fourth quarter offense flushed that good defensive effort down the toilet. The Celtics finished the second half shooting 25% from the field, which allowed OKC to pull away for a double-digit win.
Let’s get right to the bullet points:
- Credit where credit is due: Brandon Bass actually showed up today. His shooting line doesn’t look impressive (3-4 for six points), but he grabbed 13 rebounds including five offensive, and he rotated surprisingly well. He also played excellent individual defense, which created some surprising turnovers. Nice game for Bass.
- Kevin Garnett was the inspiration behind the title of this post. KG finished 5-19 from the floor and missed a plethora of shots he usually hits. Nothing to be seriously concerned about, but Garnett couldn’t make anything.
- Jeff Green finished 2-11 from the field in his return to OKC. Not worrisome: Green missing a bunch of layups he usually hits. Worrisome: Green passed up a TON of makeable spot-up 3-pointers. He keeps doing his patented ball fake with one hand, then dribble drive off the three point line. I’ve mentioned this before: Green is hitting over 40% on spot-up 3-point attempts. He should feel comfortable launching those.
- Terrence Williams: Four minutes, one EXCELLENT pass to Kevin Garnett. When the Celtics are looking to push in transition, I’m confused as to why Williams isn’t getting more minutes. He’s a good ball-handler and a better passer than most of the Celtics’ guards.
- Meanwhile Jordan Crawford got a bunch of minutes down the stretch. With the Celtics struggling to score, I didn’t mind that lineup. Crawford isn’t discouraged by his own misses, which is something we see far too often from the other shooters in Boston’s rotations.
- OKC took 33 free throws to Boston’s 20. This was a combination of OKC’s aggressive play and some questionable officiating. Make no mistake: The Thunder won this game, and they almost certainly would have won even if they hadn’t had the advantage, but OKC’s reputation definitely precedes them, and I think officials expect the Thunder to draw fouls at times even when they don’t.
- One questionable call that didn’t involve a foul: Bradley chased down a Westbrook layup and swatted it off the backboard cleanly. He was called for a goaltend. I only bring this up because that particular play was spectacular and the call made me angry enough to move objects with my mind. Related: My house needs a new roof.
- To counter my homer-ness a little: Durant’s ball-handling is so good this year. He broke down KG off a crossover in the first half and pulled a Kyrie Irving move by going behind the back in between two defenders in the second. He’s…kind of unfair.
- Eighteen turnovers for the Celtics badly understates how careless the Celtics were with the ball. Ordinarily, turnovers are mostly a result of transition basketball without a point guard (Doc, according to ESPN’s sideline reporter, told his players: “None of us are good at dribbling, so pass the ball”). But today, there were a lot of sloppy passes, a lot of badly sealed post players and a general lackadaisical feel early in the first half. Against a team like OKC that excels in transition, lackadaisical passes CANNOT be a thing.
- Here’s a look at Boston’s fourth quarter shot chart. It’s hard to complain about the shot selection; everything was either in the paint/close to the hoop or from the 3-point line. Good shots don’t always fall. Today was an unfortunate example of that.
That will have to do for today. The Celtics struggle on the road (12-19 for the season) and OKC is fantastic at home (28-4). That makes for a tough match-up. Less tough: Boston’s next road game, Tuesday against Charlotte. Let’s hope for some heat.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
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