There is no truce for the Celtics in a season in which nothing is easy for Brad Stevens’ team. After beating the Raptors with their best game in weeks, they lost horribly to the Wizards and the Pistons. And after indulging in some boxed Nuggets, they clicked again, in back to back and against some Hawks who also have no reason to smile: 114-122 final. 14-14 for the Celtics, 12-16 for the Hawks. It would have been hard to believe whoever said, with the aspirations they both had, that at this point in the season Celtics and Hawks would both be as they are, one at a Pyrrhic 50% win rate, the other four wins from that mark after a win in Boston that came after four straight losses and seven in eight nights. Of course, if the Celtics want revenge or the hawks repeat dessertDon’t worry: they will meet again tomorrow, again at the Garden, and next Wednesday in Atlanta.
The Celtics can hide behind the casualties: three starters were missing, Marcus Smart (long-term absence), Kemba Walker (did not play for being back to back) and Daniel Theis. But the Hawks did not have Bogdanovic and Hunter (two other starters) or Rondo and a Dunn who is still out. So the hawks’ lousy moment and the fact that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were playing, after all, gave the Celtics cheer, that do not find support points: every time they seem to be able to appear, they skate again. Brown explained it like this after the game: “We are trying to make the pieces fit. There are games in which we play great against very good opponents and others, against other opponents, in which we don’t. We have to find a way to be consistent. I guess it must be hard to watch this shit cause so is playing like this”.
Jaylen Brown: “We’re trying to put the pieces together. I think we’ve won a lot of games and played tremendously against some good teams and against some other teams, we haven’t. We just gotta find some consistency. I know it’s probably tough to watch. Shit, it’s tough to play.”
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) February 18, 2021
The Celtics went over and under on offense and conceded too much on defense. The Hawks made 57% of the shots, with many layups and visits to the personnel line. because the outside line did not contain penetrations that generated constant superiorities near the rim. Of course, the Hawks linked errors at the end, unable to put their advantages to safety and tangled up against a rival who tested until the hack the Chapel. Finally they were enough the direction of a Trae Young that no rival could contain (40 points, 8 assists, 14/20 shooting) and the completions of Capela (24 points, 14 rebounds) and John Collins (20 + 6). On the Celtics this time Tatum (35 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) was better than Brown (22 points, 6/20 shooting), and Pritchard and Neismith were active from the bench. With the first loaded with fouls, Stevens tried it with the almost evicted Jeff Teague … and it didn’t work, so to speak. gently (0 points, 0 assists, 3 losses). Y the Celtics already have 14 losses in a season in which they are far from where they wanted. Also the Hawks, although they did take a little respite in the Garden.
SIXERS 118 – 113 ROCKETS
The leader of the East remains the Philadelphia 76ers, now a game and a half ahead of the increasingly fearsome Nets. Doc Rivers’ team returned home after finishing made some foxes (three losses in a row) a tough tour of the West. And it was balsamic … but scary. The Sixers (now 19-10) beat the Rockets, who have fallen behind after Christian Wood’s injury and have accumulated seven straight losses and eight in nine games (they were 10-9, now they are 11-17).
But they got a good scare. Without Ben Simmons and Shake Milton, and with Joel Embiid gesturing for pain in his back during the first half, they swept at the start: 69-43 at halftime, top of +29 in a second half in which Embiid (at the end 31 + 11 + 9) was warming up. However, the relaxation took its toll and the Rockets were coming back, and going back and forth… a 100-82 with 10 minutes remaining it reached a 110-106 with less than two to go, when Wall missed one of his free throws and Embiid scored the calm basket. The Sixers didn’t have to come to that … but they won. Tobias Harris had 24 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists and between Danny Green and Seth Curry they scored 37 points with a 7/11 on triples. For the Rockets, 28 points and 7 assists from John Wall, 19 with 8 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins, 17 and 6 assists from Gordon and 19 + 6 + 4 from the worthy Jae’Sean Tate.
MAGIC 107 – 89 KNICKS
The Knicks had won three games in a row for the first time this season and had the option of four because they were visiting Magic whose campaign was ruined by injuries. But it could not be: the Knicks signed a dreadful second part and remain at 14-16, still better than Florida’s (11-18). After a good first half (53-56), Thibodeau’s team sank in the last 9 minutes of the third quarter (25-8 partial). In the second half they only made 25% of their shots (12/48) and finished with 38% total and 7/27 in triples. Derrick Rose (1/10) and Immanuel Quickley (1/12) personified the disaster. Julius Randle finished with 25 points and 7 rebounds. Decisive for the Magic was Fournier’s comeback (19 points) and Ross’s deployment from the bench, key in the reaction in the second half and who finished with 30 points for the first time this season. Nikola Vucevic had 16 points, 16 rebounds and 5 assists.
BULLS 105 – 102 PISTONS
Tremendous comeback of the Bulls in a ghost party: Billy Donovan’s had to have played in Charlotte, and the Pistons in Dallas. But the postponements and readjustments of the pandemic forced this duel, relocated by the fast track, between two teams that are outside the cheap playoff zone of the East (the Bulls are managed at least in positions of play in): 12-15 by 8-20. The Pistons led by 25 in the second quarter but sank in the third quarter (27-12). In the end, they scored decisive triples Coby White (the only one who scored: 1/6, 8 points) and the remarkable rookie Patrick Williams (15 points, 5 rebounds). Wendell Carter finished with 18 points and Zach LaVine, once again imperial, with 37, 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 14/22 shooting. Impossible to do more. For the Pistons, 43 points from Jerami Grant and the usual work from Plumlee and Wright but too little team input in the second half.