It was an emotional start to the night as Isaiah Thomas returned to Boston for the first time since getting traded to Cleveland a year and a half ago. The tribute video was shown and the Boston crowd went crazy as IT looked on.
After the tear jerking video, it was just another frustrating night in The Garden as Boston loses to the Denver Nuggets 114-105. It was close up until the end of the 3rd quarter when Denver went on an 11-0 run to end the frame.
Boston was playing better after the All-Star Game but was a little cold tonight. The C's did force 12 steals but negated that by turning the ball over 17 times. The rebounding battle was also won by Denver 51-37, which is right on cue as Boston is not a great rebounding team.
Shooting was not a great strength entering Monday night and nothing really changed. The Celtics shot 12 of 39 from 3 (30.8%) and shot 42% overall from the field. Kyrie led the team in scoring with 30 points and added 5 assists. He is playing outstanding right now and is not to blame for this loss. Al Horford also had 20, 6, and 6 with another efficient night. The Celtics play Philly on Wednesday night so be watching out for another night that Al can dominate Joel Embiid.
As for the ones who struggled, Jaylen Brown had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 20 minutes as again he just looked completely lost. Jayson Tatum also had a rough night with 8 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was able to get to the whole decently but struggled with his perimeter shot. Tatum needs to take up the modern day approach to basketball and only look to shoot 3's or layups. His Kobe-esque fadeaway jumper is way too low percentage and is also a very difficult shot for him to be taking multiple cracks at it per game.
Give Mike Malone and his team some credit though, the Nuggets are very good, young and explosive. Currently sitting at second in the Western Conference, they are in great shape to make a deep run. Nikola Jokic and Will Barton had 21 and 20, respectively. Isaiah Thomas finished with 2 assists in 7 minutes in an otherwise disappointing performance.
Now that that's wrapped up, I would like to propose some offseason moves for the Celtics:
1. First, Boston needs a shooter. Bad. Besides Kyrie, there isn't a knockdown shooter that scares opposing defenses. Danny Ainge needs to go out and get JJ Redick from the 76ers. He shoots 40% from 3 and 90% from the free throw line. Having a shooter like that puts tremendous stress on the defense and allows pockets for others to be open.
2. Boston needs a rebounder. Someone who is tenacious and is athletic enough to go out and grab offensive and defensive rebounds. Someone like Kenneth Faried of the Rockets would be a good choice. He could have a role carved out and also wouldn't be a liability on offense.
Also, as the last word, everybody calling for Brad Stevens' job: stop. Did you see what he did last year? Have you seen some of the wins we've had this season. Calling for a Head Coach's job over a few regular season losses is the most ignorant thing you can do. Sit back and let the young genius go to work. He is a great coach for a reason. He knows the right buttons to push and when to push them. Look for a hint of this when the guys travel to Philadelphia on Wednesday night.