A team that can win games without key players is a team I can trust and a team that can get somewhere in the playoffs. That team is most definitely not the Celtics. If anyone is holding out hope for this team to make any noise in the play-in or playoffs, I wouldn’t be holding for much longer.
We first have to face the facts. Boston was without Robert Williams, Marcus Smart, Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown. That right there is a reason why they won’t get anywhere in the playoffs. You feel for this team because of all the injuries they’ve had to go through, but a truly special team, such as the Lakers, will persevere through the tough and continue to win (at least some) games. Boston has lost 8 of their last 11 with guys mixing in and out of the rotation. However, Cleveland was without Dylan Windler, Lamar Stevens, Taurean Prince, Darius Garland, Larry Nance, Cedi Osman, and Isaiah Hartenstein. If you look at it that way, it’s simply unacceptable.
It was a rough day for the entire team, shooting a dismal 35.6% from the floor and 29.3% from three. No slander to coach Brad Stevens intended, but over 21 minutes were slotted to Semi Ojeleye, Romeo Langford, and Carson Edwards. What did this yield? One rebound. Meanwhile, you have a bonified scorer on the bench in the name of Jabari Parker who is perfectly healthy and ready to go. How many minutes did he receive? None, none at all.
Boston has had a habit of fouling throughout the season, ranking 24th in the league in fouls per game (20.4). Well, they kept that streak going with a total of 23 team fouls to the Cavs’ 13. This allowed for 27 free throw attempts for the Cavaliers, which provided 22 points. The Celtics only took 14 free throws which produced a meager 10 points. The Celtics also carry the reputation of a pass-lacking team, which they showed once again. They rank 24th in APG (and 17th in TOV) and had a total of 14 yesterday. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart would have contributed to the total assists, yes, but you can’t forget how to pass a ball when you’re two main playmakers are sidelined. To finish things off, their ‘shooter’ in Aaron Nesmith who is shooting 38% from three this season went 0-4 from deep. If the Celtics expect to win one game in the play-in tournament, Nesmith and Langford (if he gets minutes) need to be able to knock down shots.
The Celtics first play the Hornets in the play-in tournament. Gordon Hayward will likely be unavailable for this game, and it is questionable whether Bridges or Cody Martin will be available for the Hornets. For the Celtics, Brown is out for the remainder of the season, and Smart, Walker, and Robert Williams’ availability is questionable.