The Boston Celtics were blown out 104-91 by the Washington Wizards on Sunday, as both teams rested their stars in the closing minutes of a game the Celtics would probably like to forget.
Here are five takeaways from an eye-opening loss.
The Celtics embarrassed themselves.
Realistically, there’s no other way to say it: One game removed from a loss to the lowly Detroit Pistons, the Celtics got blown out by the team with the worst record in the Eastern Conference.
On the NBC Sports Boston broadcast, Brian Scalabrine said several times Boston looked like it was “stuck in mud,” which was an apt description. The Wizards beat the Celtics down the floor repeatedly and demolished lazy rotations in half-court sets. Offensively, Boston hoisted triples with no real plan and mostly missed them (9-for-35, 26.5 percent).
Plenty of context exists, but nothing that doesn’t also apply to Washington. The Celtics have had a weird stretch of games thanks to postponements, but the Wizards have been hit harder by COVID-19 than any other team in the NBA. The game started at 1 p.m., but (obviously) that was the case for both squads. The Celtics were without Marcus Smart, but the Wizards were without Ish Smith (a Celtics killer) and Thomas Bryant is done for the season. The Celtics were cold from the field, but the Wizards shot even worse from three (23.3 percent).
There simply isn’t an excuse for how poorly the Celtics played. They were beaten by a bad team that played much better.
Kemba Walker looked really good.
Adding insult to injury, Walker finally played well after struggling over the last week. Walker finished with 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting and sliced his way to the rim out of the pick-and-roll for layups that weren’t falling for him recently.
The Wizards are one of the worst defensive teams in the league, so take those numbers with the appropriate context, but at least one member of the roster played well.
The supporting cast was terrible.
Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker combined to score 50 points on 20-for-39 shooting. The rest of the starting lineup — Semi Ojeleye, Jayson Tatum, and Daniel Theis — finished 5-for-26 with just 13 points. For a 21-minute stretch, literally only Walker and Brown converted field goals.
Brown, Walker and Tatum have combined for 22 made field goals. The rest of the roster has five. https://t.co/temElQBXMS
— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) February 14, 2021
The Toronto win offered a look at how good the Celtics can be when their supporting cast looks like a real supporting cast. The last two games have shown the opposite. Those making the case Danny Ainge should try to swing a trade for someone — anyone — who can help Tatum and Brown only need games like Sunday to make their case.
Jayson Tatum was way off too.
That said, the Celtics won’t win many games when Tatum scores single digits for just the third time in two years. Tatum was 3-for-14 with six points, took just one free throw (he missed it) and was 0-for-2 from deep.
Essentially the only positive: He played just 23 minutes after playing a ton of minutes in Boston’s games against Toronto and Detroit.
Aaron Nesmith was back on the court.
Nesmith’s absence has been notable over the last few weeks as he was a DNP-CD in six of Boston’s last seven games, but he returned to the floor on Sunday and played 27 minutes. The rookie finished 1-for-4 from the field (5 points total), but he was energetic and engaged defensively.
Whether Nesmith can pick up some more consistent minutes remains to be seen. The Celtics need help quickly, and he is yet to look ready for the NBA, despite a flurry of calls from Celtics fans who want to see him in the lineup.
Still, Nesmith plays hard, and with very few practices and no G-League available, improvements will be hard to come by without actual game minutes. Nesmith is in a difficult spot.
After Sunday’s loss, the Celtics as a whole can relate.
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