Week six of the NBA season was a busy one for the Celtics. A four-game week saw another impressive come-from-behind win in Dallas, a gritty victory on the road in Indiana with a depleted roster, and the unfortunate end to one of the more improbable win streaks in the league. The Celtics have bounced back from the end of the streak with two straight wins, but they need to clean some things up if they want to start another winning streak. Let’s jump in and check out the Ups/Downs!
Aggressive Al Is Not so Average
Al Horford’s shooting came back to earth after a scorching week. And with the drop in efficiency, his scoring numbers decreased as well. In three games against Dallas, Miami, and Orlando, Horford had just 15 points on 6-20 shooting. But, in typical Horford style, he stepped it up against Indiana when it was needed.
With Jaylen Brown (personal) and Marcus Morris (rest) inactive against the Pacers, Horford upped his aggression on the offensive end and gave the Celtics some much-needed points. He knocked down threes and roasted defenders with some Olajuwon-esque post moves to the tune of 21 points on 8-15 shooting, his most shots in a single game this season. Horford will undoubtedly give what the game needs from him, but a more aggressive Al is never a bad thing.
A More Efficient, and Dangerous, Kyrie
Over the first 17 games, Kyrie shot over 50 percent from the field just four times. He shot at least 50 percent from the field in all four games this past week. Chalk it up to early season struggles or the weight of a franchise on your shoulders, but Kyrie has certainly turned his shooting numbers around. Kyrie messed around and shot 59.5 percent from the field this week, an even more impressive stat considering both the difficulty and volume of shots that he takes. A 47-piece in the overtime win against Dallas highlighted the week, but Kyrie getting more comfortable in the offense should have Celtics’ fans drooling.
Improved Play from Celtics’ Bench
The Celtics’ bench were atrocious coming into this week. Ranked near the bottom of the league in bench points, Boston was in need of a few sparks. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart weren’t shooting well, but the Boston reserves turned it around. Rozier decided to never miss a shot again, scoring 40 points on 15-20 shooting over the past two games. Smart found a shooting rhythm against Indiana after being inserted into the starting lineup. Semi Ojeleye has been more aggressive on offense and Aron Baynes has proven to be a very capable bench scorer. Consistency is key, and with five straight games in Boston, hopefully the second unit can find their groove.
Slow Starts Are Starting to Catch up to the Celtics
To be fair, the Celtics have been abnormally good at coming back from early, or late, deficits. They did it against the Mavericks and Pacers this week alone. But how long can that last? Their winning streak ended against Miami when they couldn’t dig themselves out of a tough start, and you have to imagine that they won’t be able to keep up their heroics all season. The comebacks are entertaining, but I have thought Brad Stevens would much rather just play well for the whole game instead.
The Celtics Need to Shoot Better (Duh)
Despite having the best record in the league to date, the Celtics are ranked 27th in field goal percentage. The Celtics aren’t the Golden State Warriors. They can’t sleepwalk through half of a game and then just flip the switch and score a million points. Their comebacks have been because of their defense. If the defense starts to slip, these comebacks will be fewer and farther between. This team will be scary when their shots start to fall, they just need to get their first.
Free Throws, Free Throws, Free Throws
I’m going to keep harping on this, mainly because this is my weekly column AND I WILL WRITE ABOUT WHATEVER I WANT TO WRITE ABOUT, DAD! Wait, sorry that got away from me a little bit there. Regardless, it fills me with rage to watch the Celtics miss free throws. They have moved up to 14th in the league in free throw percentage, but they are still leaving too many points at the charity stripe.