Late-game miscommunication proves costly for the Celtics

Late-game miscommunication proves costly for the Celtics

Down the stretch, the Boston Celtics have often been at their best offensively.

That was not the case on Saturday night as the Celtics dropped a 105-103 loss to the Orlando Magic fueled in part by what appeared to be a late-game miscommunication.

Trailing 105-103, Boston's Gordon Hayward was set to inbound the ball. He tossed it in to Jayson Tatum who launched a tightly contested baseline jumper as time expired.

The shot was off the mark, but before Tatum had released the shot you could tell something wasn't right.

Kyrie Irving immediately raised his arms and once the cameras panned on him, he voiced his displeasure about the play to Hayward who apparently was supposed to inbound the ball to Al Horford which would have likely led to the Magic having to defend Irving and Horford in a high pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop scenario which for most of the night, Orlando struggled to defend effectively.

While it certainly was a factor in Boston's loss, by no means was it the only reason for the Celtics (25-17) dropping its second straight game.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s loss to the Orlando Magic, the fourth time in their last five matchups that Orlando emerged victorious.


Aaron Gordon: It was indeed a strong performance by Aaron Gordon who finished with a double-double of 28 points and 12 rebounds.

Terrence Ross: The Magic got strong play from their second unit, led by Terrence Ross’ 25 points.

Kyrie Irving: After a not-so-stellar start, Kyrie Irving really picked it up in the second half for Boston to lead the Celtics with 24 points - 16 of which came in the second half.


Nikola Vucevic: He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (he was 7-for-18) for the game, but came up with some clutch baskets at the rim while being defended by Al Horford. He would finish the game with a double-double of 16 points and 13 rebounds to go with five assists.

Jayson Tatum: The pursuit of more shot attempts has been a given recently when it comes to Jayson Tatum. And Saturday’s game against Orlando was no exception. Tatum had 16 points and six rebounds.

Marcus Morris: Morris was Boston’s second-leading scorer and had a near double-double, tallying 17 points to go with eight rebounds.


Celtics free throw shooting: Free throw shooting was a major problem for the Boston Celtics, connecting on just 67.9 percent of their free throws (19-for-28) which was among the many factors contributing to the loss.

Celtics late-game execution: The miscommunication in the closing seconds was atypical of what we've come to expect from the Celtics under Brad Stevens. The body language inside the huddle before they went on to the floor prior to the final play, wasn't great, either. No matter how you want to look at it, the Celtics did not look like themselves when it mattered most.

Celtics bench: At no point did they impact the game in a positive way for Boston, whether it be scoring, rebounding or defense. They would tally just 26 points which was one more point than Terrence Ross had by himself off the Magic bench. Khem Birch was the only other Orlando backup to score (he had four points), but his impact was on the glass where he grabbed 10 rebounds in just over 17 minutes.

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who visits the hardware store?

For Day 3 of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our panel to take a trip to the hardware store and predict which Celtics player might bring home some of the NBA’s hardware by winning a postseason award.

Outside of maybe only Most Valuable Player, there’s an argument to be made that a Celtics player, coach, or executive could muscle their way into the conversation for the league’s other top honors. Alas, you’d have to rewind to the 2007-2008 season to find the last time the Celtics found themselves in that spotlight when Kevin Garnett won Defensive Player of the Year and Danny Ainge was Executive of the Year.

Celtics players haven’t muscled their way into the voting much in recent seasons. Last year, only Marcus Smart charted on an award while finishing eighth in Defensive Player of the Year. Jayson Tatum was third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2017-18, while Al Horford was fifth in Defensive Player of the Year balloting that season. Isaiah Thomas was fifth in both MVP and Most Improved voting for the 2016-17 campaign.

But if the Celtics are to outkick most prognosticator’s expectations this season, they’ll need someone on their roster to at least vault into the conversation for these awards.

So who is most likely to earn themselves a shiny trophy?

Our vote went to Marcus Smart for Sixth Man of the Year. With the glut of wing depth this season, we believe there’s a strong chance that Smart will initially shuffle back to his familiar bench role, allowing coach Brad Stevens to trot out a versatile starting lineup featuring Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, and a big (with Enes Kanter the early favorite to hold that starter job initially).

Stevens has long preferred to deploy Smart in a reserve role, allowing Smart to set the tone for the second unit while also providing another ball-handler for the second group. The Celtics went away from that last season when Smart elevated from a bench role in November and started 60 games overall. Kyrie Irving routinely advocated for Smart, noting how much he enjoyed playing alongside him at the start of games, which only solidified Smart’s spot with the first unit.

A similar script could certainly unfold this season. But it would be the most Marcus Smart thing if he’s the player that embraces shuffling to the second unit and allows Hayward, Tatum, and Brown to play with the first group.

Yes, the Sixth Man award tends to honor a high-scoring player on one of the league’s top teams. But if the Celtics overachieve this season, there will be extra attention on the player(s) that spearheaded the second unit. Smart, with his All-Defense pedigree and improving offensive efficiency, could dive into the conversation for Sixth Man the same way he pounces on a loose ball.

Abby Chin: Gordon Hayward, Sixth Man of the Year

I believe Hayward will be almost — if not fully — back to his Utah self this season. But, with the glut of talent on the wing, and Hayward's ability to facilitate the offense on that second unit, it might make the most sense for him to come off the bench again. I think Hayward will finish games on the court, he just may not start there.


Sherrod Blakely: Brad Stevens, Coach of the Year

The Celtics will finish with a record that exceeds the expectations of many, and will include wins over East favorites Philly and Milwaukee.


Max Lederman: Gordon Hayward, Most Improved

Hayward has been in the lab all summer working on getting back to the player he was before the injury. He had a few flashes last season, but was a shell of his former self. I know this award tends to go to a young breakout player but I think a really strong start to the season could make some folks consider taking a different approach with their votes.

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Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas out 6 to 8 weeks after latest injury for ex-Celtics star

Isaiah Thomas just can't seem to stay healthy since leaving the Boston Celtics two years ago.

Thomas underwent left thumb surgery Wednesday and is expected to miss six to eight weeks as he recovers, the Washington Wizards announced.

Thomas suffered the injury -- a rupture of the radial collateral ligament in his thumb -- during "routine workouts" Monday, according to the team.

It's another tough break for the 30-year-old point guard, who's appeared in a total of 76 games over the last three seasons due to a nagging hip injury that required surgery last March.

Thomas' hip injury, which he sustained during his career season for the Celtics in 2016-17, essentially derailed his career to date, as he's bounced between the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets since then.

Thomas finally appeared healthy after signing with the Wizards in July, but it appears his Washington debut will have to wait. The Celtics' first matchup with the Wizards isn't until Nov. 13 -- exactly eight weeks from Wednesday -- so there's a chance Thomas can return for a Boston reunion.

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