The Boston Celtics wrapped up their grueling road trip out west with another tough loss at the hands of the Utah Jazz by a score of 122-108. The return of Jaylen Brown wasn’t enough for the Celtics to able to overcome the top team in the NBA currently, and the Celtics return home with a lot of questions to answer.
Brown’s return was about the only thing that kept the Celtics in this game in the first half. Brown had 20 of the Celtics 47 first half points, while none of his teammates managed to crack double digits. Tatum would eventually find his way a bit in the second half, but his struggles in the first half really hurt the Celtics in the end. Brown and Tatum ended up with 33 and 25 points respectively, while Daniel Theis chipped in 15 points, all off of three pointers, before fouling out halfway through the fourth.
And per usual, that was pretty much all the scoring the Celtics got. Nobody else broke double digits, as the Celtics remain a very predictable team. Brown and Tatum will get their points one way or another, but if you slow down the pieces around them, you will probably win. Somebody needs to step up and help ease the scoring burden, which brings us to the guy who’s return was supposed to fix that issue.
With each game he struggles, the concerns about Kemba Walker continue to grow. Walker followed up a miserable 4/20 shooting performance against the Phoenix Suns with a 2/12 performance last night. Despite Walker racking up seven assists, you can easily make a case that he’s hurting the Celtics more than helping at this point. The Celtics are 3-7 in the games he’s played in this season, as compared to 9-4 when he’s out. Walker has really been forcing the issue offensively when he doesn’t really have to, and it’s really been hurting the Celtics offense. If this keeps up, it may be worth sending him to the bench in favor of Marcus Smart when he returns.
Speaking of Smart, the Celtics really missed his defensive presence in this one. Donovan Mitchell absolutely torched the Celtics in the second half, before icing the game with a number of difficult threes, including one that sent Grant Williams to the floor.
The Celtics defense hasn’t been up to it’s usual standard for much of the season, and they’ve struggled on their road trip without Smart. After watching Devin Booker takeover down the stretch in Sunday’s contest, they watched Mitchell do the same yesterday. Smart’s defensive abilities will be a welcome return for a struggling Celtics defense.
So the Celtics wrap up their west coast road trip going 2-3, and a return to the TD Garden will be much welcome. The Celtics picked up big wins against the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, but slipped up against the Sacramento Kings and, to a lesser extent, the Suns. West coast games are tough, especially in groups like these. While it’s certainly not an excuse for the Celtics laundry list of struggles, playing a game at home for once will hopefully help this team out.
The Celtics will return home to take on the Toronto Raptors, who finally appear to be finding their footing after a slow start to the season. The trio of Pascal Siakam, Kyle Lowry, and Fred VanVleet are very familiar to this team after they battled in a seven game series last season in the playoffs, and the Celtics will need to be on the top of their game if they going to slow them down. While Siakam has melted away at the sight of Jaylen Brown, guarding Lowry and VanVleet will prove more difficult, especially without Smart playing. It would be a great game for Kemba Walker to break out of his slump and lead the Celtics to a much needed victory.
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