Celtics

Celtics won't be celebrating any moral victories

takeaways_celticswarriors_1272018.jpg

Celtics won't be celebrating any moral victories

OAKLAND, Calif. – For most teams, taking the Golden State Warriors down to the wire before losing at Oracle Arena would be seen as a success.

But the Boston Celtics are well past “Good try, good effort” performances, particularly because they are one of the few teams that has actually had success on Golden State’s home floor in recent years.

That’s why for them, their brand of disappointment in Saturday’s 109-105 loss was very different than most teams.

Simply put, the Celtics came away feeling as though they let one get away.

“We had them right where we wanted them,” said Jaylen Brown. “We just came up short. Really good team on the other side and they got the win.”

And while Saturday’s loss was the last regular season matchup between these two, the Warriors made no secret about believing that if they get back to the NBA Finals for what would be a fourth straight year, the team representing the East could very well be the Boston Celtics.

“They’re a good team,” Golden State’s Shaun Livingston told NBC Sports Boston’s Kyle Draper. “This is a good matchup for us. Looking at it, it’s obviously a team we could see in June.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 109-105 loss to the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors.

KYRIE IRVING

Most games, Kyrie Irving makes a conscious effort to get his teammates going as much as possible to start games, knowing he can get his points against pretty much any defense out there. Knowing the magnitude and caliber of opponent the Celtics were facing in Golden State on the road, we saw Irving looking to score at the start of the game more than usual. He scored 14 of is team-high 37 points in the first quarter while shooting 7-for-8 from the field. It will be worth monitoring if what we saw was just an approach exclusively for Golden State, or whether we’ll see more of this brand of Irving basketball in the near future.

JAYLEN BROWN

We’ve seen Brown locked in before, but rarely have we seen the kind of focus and attention to detail at both ends of the floor, that we saw on Saturday night. His defense was really solid all game. And his offensive game?

Even better, as he scored 20 points while shooting 6-for-9 from the field which included 14 points in the first quarter.

You can’t expect him to shoot that well all the time. But the aggression level he played with, that needs to be more of a constant with him. Because as we saw on Saturday night, an aggressive Jaylen Brown is a better version of Jaylen Brown.

NO MARCUS SMART

Whenever you have to play without a key defender like Smart, it’s going to impact the game at some point. And when you look at how the Celtics had no answer for cooling off Stephen Curry you have to wonder how much they might have benefited from having Smart (right had laceration) who will miss about two weeks with his non-basketball related injury.

DEFENDING THE BIG FOUR

One of the reasons why Boston split the head-to-head series with Golden State this season, was their ability to limit at least two of Golden State’s all-stars – Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. In Boston’s win over Golden State in November, it was Curry, Green and Thompson who struggled while combining to shoot 25.6 percent (11-for-43) from the field. On Saturday, it was another bad shooting night for Green, Thompson and Durant who shot 34.1 percent on 14-for-41 shooting from the field. Limiting the bulk of Golden State’s Big Four is something Boston has done consistently and could come into play if the two were to meet in the NBA Finals.

THREE-POINT SHOOTING

It has truly been a trial and error process for the Boston Celtics find the right balance between taking 3’s and not becoming too reliant on it in order to win. Boston went 14-for-28 from 3-point range against the Warriors, which was a decent number of makes and attempts that at a minimum, gave them a decent shot at winning. Going forward, there will be games in which they will need to take more and other nights when they might be better served taking fewer than usual. But the bottom line is that the 3-pointer is a valuable part of what they want to do as an offense. Figuring out when to use it appropriately remains an ongoing challenge, one that the Celtics have shown themselves more nights than not, to be up for.

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Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report puts Jayson Tatum on 'overhyped' list

Bleacher Report ran a piece Tuesday listing the NBA's five "most overhyped players" entering the coming season. Jayson Tatum leads the list. Hold me back. 

These pieces are obviously subjective as hell, as they rely on "people probably think X," which may or may not be the reality of the situation. In the case of Tatum, writer Grant Hughes acknowledges that he feels Tatum is a franchise player, but that he could be a victim of the team for which he plays. 

Writes Hughes

Kyrie Irving has never been one to take a backseat, and with him back on the floor, it'll be much harder for Tatum to build on his postseason takeover. Throw Gordon Hayward into the mix, and there will be even fewer touches for the 20-year-old wing. And that's to say nothing of Jaylen Brown, who's a superior defender at the moment and averaged 18 points per game in the playoffs on more efficient shooting than Tatum managed. He's due for an increased role as well.

C's fans can first breathe at the fact that Hughes most certainly is not calling Tatum overrated. Then, if they're rational, they can wonder whether Hughes has a point. 

Tatum's five best scoring games of the regular season came with Kyrie out of the lineup, one of which was prior to Irving being shut down for the season. He obviously went on to average over four and a half points more in the postseason without Irving (18.5) than he did in the regular season (13.9). 

No, Tatum is not going to be the Celtics' top scorer this season. He also won't be a rookie again. Dude looked like he tacked on like 80 pounds of muscle like a month after the season ended. He's been in gyms destroying everyone from Joel Embiid to a hilarious assortment of camp-going children. He's out here mentoring Kobe

Even if Brad Stevens wants to get creative and have Tatum come off the bench (that doesn't need to happen; he can start the five best players), Tatum is a lethal enough offensive player to put up 20 a night. 

But back to the idea of him being overhyped. I don't think anyone's putting the kid in the MVP conversation. They probably just saw the third overall pick have a really good rookie year and figure that he'll continue to blossom into a star, if he isn't one already. 

The other players listed in the piece were DeMarcus Cousins, Zach LaVine, Josh Jackson and Kawhi Leonard. Leonard falls into the rule of thumb that if you're one of the five best players in the league, as Kawhi is, it's really easy for people to overhype you. That's not Leonard's fault. 

But the other guys? Who the heck is hyping -- let alone overhyping -- Zach LaVine? The only time Zach LaVine made headlines this summer was when he was given an offersheet by the Kings that most felt was too much and the Bulls matched it. Everyone thinks he's a stinky defensive player who's coming off an ACL injury. Unless there's some expectation that he's going to start averaging six or seven more points a night than he ever has, he isn't being overhyped. He's just overpaid. 

The Cousins pick could very well be fair. As Hughes writes, Boogie is a "luxury, not a game-changer for the Warriors." It's very possible that his impact on the Warriors won't be as significant as the league fears. Maybe he takes longer than expected to come back. Maybe when he does come back, he proves to be a divisive player with that group. Then again, maybe he gives them 25 and 12 a night and the Warriors go undefeated in the postseason. 

Selling Jackson as overhyped is tough. He's a second-year player who finished his rookie year on fire, including a 36-point performance against the Warriors. He sure as hell won't average 22.6 points like he did over his last 10 games as a rookie, but does anyone think he will? Nobody thinks he's a great shooter, but it's reasonable to expect something approaching the 18.7 he averaged post All-Star break, plus his usual strong defending.

Anyway, this Hughes fellow should have put Ben Simmons on the list. Guy never shoots threes. 

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Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Knicks, Nets reportedly in mix for Kyrie-Butler combo in '19

Remember those rumors of Kyrie Irving and Jimmy Butler teaming up in free agency next year? Well, that buzz is back and Boston isn't the rumored destination.

Two league sources told Business Insider that the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets could be well-positioned to land the two players, with one source saying the chatter is "substantial."

"It wouldn't surprise me if either New York team or potentially both New York teams hit it big next summer," one source said.

That echoes a Chicago Sun-Times report from July which said the Celtics and Timberwolves stars had been talking about how they could team up. Each player can opt out after this season and Irving has made it known he'll be heading to free agency. The Kyrie-to-the-Knicks rumors have been around for a while. 

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