Even as the Boston Celtics continued to stack up the wins, head coach Brad Stevens made his concerns about his team’s defense well known.
Simply put, Boston has been winning because they’ve out-shot teams most nights.
But when many of those shots don’t fall as was the case on Wednesday, the Celtics are going to have trouble winning – even against an undermanned Sacramento Kings team.
Sacramento got a huge game from their guards as they pulled away in the second half for a 108-92 win.
The loss snapped Boston’s seven-game winning streak while the Kings (21-32) got a rare win at home having come into Wednesday’s game with losses in nine of their previous 11 home games.
Isaiah Thomas led all scorers with 26 points and seven assists. Meanwhile, Sacramento’s Darren Collison and Ben McLemore off the bench came up big for the Kings, scoring 26 and 17 points, respectively.
Sacramento also got a strong game from Matt Barnes who had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds along with four assists.
While it’ll certainly be seen as a bad loss for Boston (33-19), consider this: the Kings this season have beaten Cleveland, Golden State and Toronto twice.
But here’s the difference why this one will sting more for the Celtics than those other aforementioned teams.
Cleveland, Golden State and Toronto are teams – Cleveland and Toronto at least – that the Celtics will have to go through in order to have the kind of season they are optimistic about having.
A big part of that will come down to seeding, and make no mistake about it: this loss will come back to haunt the Celtics because it came against a bad team that didn’t play all that exceptionally well.
Boston players may not want to admit it, but they didn’t give this team the kind of respect they deserved.
And by the time they woke up and started to play, the Kings were in a rhythm and would not be denied.
For the Celtics, the key going forward is to do just that … go forward and play a better game at Portland on Thursday night.
The blowout fashion in which Wednesday’s game ended was in stark contrast to how the night began.
The Celtics got off to a good start, building their first double-digit in the first quarter. But the Kings bounced back with strong play from their guards who propelled Sacramento to a strong second quarter that made it a 49-all game at the half.
Boston didn’t play with the kind of force or focus in the third quarter, showing an inability to contain Sacramento’s 1-2 backcourt punch of Darren Collison and Ben McLemore.
Their scoring led the Kings to a 77-71 lead going into the fourth quarter.