After a dreadful performance against the Houston Rockets on Tuesday, the Boston Celtics desperately needed to bounce back. Unfortunately, it did not help that the next time they tie their shoes up would be against the San Antonio Spurs. Since the Celtics had just been outright embarrassed the previous game, they needed to show they still had heart and mental toughness. Boston came out and competed with San Antonio. The Celtics played very well Wednesday, but fell short to the Finals-tested Spurs. Despite the loss, there are many positives to take away from this game.
One positive to take away from this game is the play of Green. My last article addressed the issues he’s been having this season. Green went 7-for-14 from the field with 19 points and five rebounds. He responded well and played in encouraging fashion. However, his performance was not sufficient. He still lacked that aggression and killer instinct that he needs to be capable of carrying this team. Overall, it was a solid game for Green and a reassuring indication.
Bradley continues to progress and is another positive to take away from the loss against the Spurs. Bradley has been playing tremendous basketball this season and it was evident in Wednesday’s game. He scored 19 points and shot 9-for-18 from the field. His only drawbacks were his shot selection and playmaking. Despite his high shooting percentage, Bradley took too many shots and some were not smart. Especially late in the game, he started to take shots that were out of control and unnecessary.
Instead, he should be creating shots for players like Green and Jared Sullinger in those situations. I hate to criticize his playmaking ability because he is not a true point guard, but that’s the position he is forced to play right now and he needs to make the most of it. Nonetheless, it was a strong offensive output. In addition to his offense, his defense shined yet again. His defense brings the most value to this team and he was able to minimize the damage done by Tony Parker.
Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk
Perhaps the most notable affirmation to take from this game is the play of the young big men. Sullinger, in particular, had another astounding game. It wasn’t quite like the game he had against the Portland Trail-Blazers, but he was categorically impressive. He went 8-for-17 from the field with 19 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. The only demise in his performance was that he took too many three-pointers. He was 1-for-5 from beyond the arc. Five three-point attempts is too many for him.
Another young big man, Kelly Olynyk, had an encouraging outing as well. He did not have a good shooting night — going 2-for-9 — however, his hustle and hard work on the boards was extremely promising. What has been most impressive about his game is the way he complements Sullinger. It is exciting to watch them play together and it was a nice glimpse of what’s to come in the future. They both have great instincts and remarkable passing ability for big men. They each shared time defending future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan and they did exceptionally well. Duncan shot 3-for-13 from the field due to Sullinger and Olynyk’s complementary defense.
The fact that the Celtics were able to improve and show poise after what seemed hardly a contest against the Rockets displays how well coached this team is. Brad Stevens did an excellent job making sure his team bounced back. They did not play outstandingly, but their improvement cannot be ignored. This team was able to get back on their feet and fight after they were beaten down. Boston played together and connected as a team. This was the type of game that Celtics should be able to build off of.