The Boston Celtics continue to confuse everyone, dropping another loss to a below .500 team in the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night, getting lit up yet again by Kemba Walker.
“It’s one-on-one, pride-pride down the stretch. Try to come in and help as much as possible. We should have probably trapped him a little bit more like every other team does in the league, but we didn’t. He torches us every time we play him, so it’s no surprise.” Kyrie Irving post-game after the 36 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist night from Kemba Walker who seems to have the Boston Celtics all figured out to say the least. In three games against Boston this season, Walker is averaging 28.3 points with 2.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Walker has also shot 51.7% from the field against the C's this season which is the best he's shot against any team he's faced all year long in at least three meetings.
Things started off pretty well for Boston. Irving opened the gate in the first quarter scoring 16 of his 31 points while Jaylen Brown quickly got started on his offensive contribution with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting. The two combined to score 26 of the Celtics 35 first quarter points. This season on average the Celtics score 28.3 points in the opening 12 minutes. All was looking swell for Uncle Drew on his 27th Birthday.
At the half, Boston held just a one point lead over Charlotte. Irving had 18, Brown with 17 and the Celtics shot 53% from the field, connecting on 24 of 45 attempts.
However this would all soon take a turn for the worse.
Remember back on November 19, Kemba dropped 43 in a 5-point loss Boston Celtics loss in Charlotte. However even an 18-point lead can't be overcome by the former UConn man himself right? Well this is the modern day Boston Celtics and the reality is that blowing an 18-point lead on the road to a below .500, non-playoff contending Charlotte Hornets team is extremely characteristic of this Celtics team. Plus it's March and it seems as though the annual madness goes beyond 19+ year old college kids. A vintage March Madness like performance helped notch the Celtics third consecutive loss.
The 2018-19 Boston Celtics have had their fair share of uncharacteristic and certainly disappointing losses, now 10 on the season against below .500 teams this season. Their latest 48 minutes of underperforming basketball came last night in Charlotte against the 33-39, non-playoff contending Hornets.
“In the league, anything can happen. Once one team gets momentum, things can change really fast", said Kemba Walker who helped lead the chase in erasing an 18-point deficit via his 23rd game of 30 or more points this season.
Walker most notably lit the fuse in the fourth quarter in which the Celtics began leading 98-89. However that lead would quickly be gone to never return as Kemba Walker completely took full control of the game, scoring 18 points on 6/11 shooting from the field and 4/6 shooting from three point territory. Walker was a +21 for Charlotte in the fourth, leading their dominating 30-5 run which Boston had absolutely no response for. So what happened?
“Obviously, when you lose an 18-point lead, there is a lot of things that go wrong. I thought that they did a good job chipping away at it and hitting singles and whether it was after time outs, or in the middle of the run, or getting plays in transition that they made go their way, I thought they did a really good job. We did everything that the book is written on to lose a game that you are up 18 at that point", Brad Stevens stated.
Celtics Fourth Quarter Stats:
Every single player who stepped on the floor had a negative plus/minus in the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving completely disappeared from the box score, shooting just one of five with two points. The Celtics as a team barely outscored Kemba Walker himself, just having one more of Walker's fourth. The Boston Celtics defense went completely ghost when the ball found itself in Walker's hand come the final 12 minutes of basketball last night.
We should have probably trapped him a little bit more, like every team does in the league", Irving stated after the game. "We took our foot off the gas pedal, got it to a five-point game and momentum shifted from there."
Jayson Tatum contributed to the Celtics cold fourth quarter as well going two for seven, pretty much summing up his night entirely. Tatum scored just 12 points while finishing the night shooting 5/17 from the field (29.4%).
Despite Kyrie Irving's 31-point night, he couldn't cap it off and lead the Celtics to a close out fourth quarter. All wasn't a major loss... well at least statistically speaking for Irving. His 31 points made him the first Boston Celtics player to record five consecutive 30+ point games since Paul Pierce in 2006.
The 18-point comeback was the Hornets biggest all season.