The Boston Celtics are all out of sorts and there’s no easy way to fix them. Missing just Evan Fournier and Tristan Thompson, Boston fell to the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-96, on Tuesday night, and the game wasn’t closer than 10 points at any moment in the second half. This was a thorough stomping, with Joel Embiid even attempting more free throws (20) than the entire Celtics team (18).
The Celtics’ Big 3 of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker combined for an OK but underwhelming 54 points on 19-of-41 shooting with 10 assists to seven turnovers. Embiid scored 35 points on 9-of-19 shooting himself. The Sixers only made nine 3-pointers but Boston’s inability to draw fouls and contain the ball (20 turnovers) put them in too deep of a hole for it to matter. The team has now lost eight of its last 13 games including games to the Kings and Cavaliers.
Fifty-one games into a 72-game season, Boston is below .500 at 25-26, tied with the — wait for it — New York Knicks. The Charlotte Hornets and Atlanta Hawks both hold better records despite having a fraction of the star power. The Celtics’ advanced numbers validate their mediocrity past the wins and losses column. This is who they are. They hold just the 12th-best offense in the league, scoring fewer points per 100 possessions than the Kings, and rank 21st in defense, allowing more points per 100 possessions than the Thunder and Magic. As a whole, they’re out-scoring teams by just 1.68 points per 100 possessions, which is nearly five points fewer than their team last season and compares to last year’s Pacers.
Of course, Boston's been affected by a number of injuries and protocol situations. Still, the Celtics have the résumé of a first-round-and-out playoff team, and the group is long past the trade deadline. The buyout market is about closed. They’re pretty much stuck with what they have.
Their last reasons to hope will rest with Robert Williams III taking a leap as the team’s starting center, Romeo Langford, who hadn’t played since September, recovering fully from a wrist injury, Evan Fournier staying hot from distance, and Moe Wagner making an impact off the bench, and … that might be it. The 2020-21 Celtics All-Star-caliber group of Tatum, Brown, and Walker doesn’t seem to be enough.
It could be a rough couple of months for Celtics fans and fantasy managers rostering Boston’s players.
Now, let's talk about all eight games from Tuesday night.
Bulls 113, Pacers 97
Nikola Vucevic — Vucevic scored 32 points on 14-of-29 shooting with four 3-pointers, 17 rebounds, five assists, one block, and four turnovers in 35 minutes.
Zach LaVine — LaVine scored 19 points on 6-of-18 shooting with four 3-pointers, eight rebounds, six assists, one block, and three turnovers.
Caris LeVert — LeVert scored 20 points on 9-of-18 shooting with two 3-pointers, six rebounds, five assists, one block, and no turnovers in 33 minutes.
Lauri Markkanen — In 22 minutes off the bench, Markkanen made 5-of-7 shots including three 3-pointers for 15 points, six rebounds, one steal, and one block.
Myles Turner — Turner scored 10 points on 3-of-5 shooting with two 3-pointers, four rebounds, and three blocks.
Hawks 123, Pelicans 107
Zion Williamson — In his return from a sprained thumb, Williamson scored 34 points on 12-of-18 shooting with a 3-pointer and nine made free throws on 10 tries! He also added five rebounds, two assists, one steal, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.
Lonzo Ball — Ball scored 12 points on just 4-of-15 shooting but 14 of those shots were from 3-point range and all makes were from distance. He added 11 assists, nine rebounds, three steals, two blocks, and one turnover.
Trae Young — Young scored 30 points on 10-of-21 shooting with six 3-pointers, 12 assists, one rebound, and just three turnovers in 31 minutes.
Bogdan Bogdanovic — Bogdanovic scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting with five 3-pointers, four assists, four rebounds, and two turnovers in 30 minutes.
Lakers 110, Raptors 101
Marc Gasol — Gasol scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting with one 3-pointer, nine rebounds, five assists, four blocks, and five turnovers in 28 minutes.
Pascal Siakam — Siakam scored 27 points on just 7-of-21 shooting with 13-of-15 free throw makes. He added seven rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block, and one turnover.
Dennis Schroder — Schroder scored 12 points on 3-of-7 shooting with a pair of 3-pointers, nine assists, two steals, and four turnovers in 27 minutes.
Chris Boucher — Boucher scored 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting with one 3-pointer, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and no turnovers in 33 minutes.
Alex Caruso — Caruso scored 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting including three 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, two steals, and four turnovers.
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Grizzlies 124, Heat 112
Dillon Brooks — Brooks scored 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting with five 3-pointers, two assists, two steals, and one rebound.
Jimmy Butler — Butler scored 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting with one 3-pointer, five assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one turnover in 35 minutes.
Bam Adebayo — Adebayo scored 18 points on 9-of-14 shooting with 10 rebounds, 10 assists, three steals, and no turnovers in 33 minutes.
Jonas Valanciunas — Valanciunas scored 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting with one 3-pointer, 10 rebounds, one steal, and two turnovers.
Desmond Bane — Bane scored 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with three 3-pointers, three assists, three rebounds, two steals, one block, and one turnover.
Nuggets 134, Pistons 119
Jerami Grant — Grant scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting with three 3-pointers, five rebounds, four assists, one block, and four turnovers.
Nikola Jokic — Jokic scored 27 points on 13-of-16 shooting with 11 assists, eight rebounds, one steal, one block, and one turnover in 27 minutes.
Will Barton — Barton scored 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting with six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two turnovers in 36 minutes.
Saddiq Bey — Bey scored 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting with six 3-pointers and one assist in 24 minutes.
Michael Porter Jr. — MPJ scored 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting with three 3-pointers, seven rebounds, and one turnover in 29 minutes.
Clippers 133, Trail Blazers 116
Norman Powell — Powell scored 32 points on 8-of-18 shooting with 14 free throws on 15 tries, four rebounds, one assist, and one turnover in 37 minutes.
Kawhi Leonard — Leonard scored 29 points on 10-of-18 shooting with one 3-pointer, 12 rebounds, seven assists, and just one turnover in 36 minutes.
Paul George — George scored 36 points on 11-of-18 shooting With six 3-pointers, five assists, three rebounds, one steal, one block, and three turnovers in 34 minutes.
C.J. McCollum — McCollum scored 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting with two 3-pointers, six assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one turnover.
Robert Covington — Covington scored 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting with nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, one block, and one turnover in 36 minutes.
Warriors 122, Bucks 121
Stephen Curry — Curry scored an unreal 41 points on 14-of-21 shooting with five 3-pointers, six rebounds, four assists, and four turnovers in 38 minutes.
Khris Middleton — Middleton scored 28 points on 10-of-19 shooting with two 3-pointers, seven assists, two rebounds, one steal, and five turnovers in 37 minutes.
Jrue Holiday — Holiday scored 29 points on 11-of-18 shooting with four 3-pointers, five assists, three rebounds, now steal, and eight turnovers in 34 minutes.
Draymond Green — Green scored just six points on 3-of-8 shooting with eight assists, five rebounds, one block, and two turnovers.