Last night, we once again watched this Celtics team get absolutely decimated, this time by a 1-5 Washington Wizards team. For all the talk of watching the last game tape and being upset, the C's didn't show much fight out of the gate yesterday:
Wizards 34, Celtics 8. End 1st.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) November 10, 2016
Not a typo.
That first quarter was bad enough to bury the Celtics early, and they never got back in the game. Otto Porter had himself a night dropping 34 points and 14 rebounds (both career highs) and after a third straight loss we wonder how they fix this?
Some of this will certainly fix itself. The Celtics are missing two starters - also two of their best players - in Al Horford and Jae Crowder. But how much of a difference do those guys make? A BIG ONE:
Celtics defense at a top-6 level w/ Al Horford (99.7 DefRtg) + a by-far-last-in-the-league level w/o him (114.9). They’re fine if he’s fine.— Ben Rohrbach (@brohrbach) November 7, 2016
Now that sample size is small on both ends, only a few games each way, but I've certainly seen enough of the Celtics without Horford to understand that he is of the utmost importance to this team on the defensive end and rebounding the basketball. He may not be the rebounder that Jared Sullinger was for this team, but he's still by far the best we've got. Horford has a career average of 8.9 boards per game, our next best is Amir Johnson at a measly 5.8 per game average.
As for Jae Crowder, here's a guy that does just about everything well. He can score, is a very good defender, can guard multiple positions, he's a solid rebounder at small forward - 5.1 per game last season - but even more than that, he's the glue guy for this Celtics team:
To me, it's wild how the Celtics' entire identity changes when Jae Crowder isn't on the court.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) November 10, 2016
Last season, we had a backup plan if Crowder was down. Evan Turner could step in and fill the void if Jae missed a game. Turner could do a lot of the same things that Crowder did well, and even some things he was better at. When both of them were available for the game, the dropoff from first to second unit was minimal. Now we have rookie Jaylen Brown essentially in Turner's former role. Although he's shown some flashes of brilliance in his short time here, he's still too raw and uneven to count on consistently.
Heading into the season we thought this team was deep. It's very clear now with a couple of injuries to some key cogs in the lineup that this team doesn't have the spare parts to keep the ship afloat without them. Crowder and Horford should both be back soon, although as of now Al still hasn't passed concussion protocol and Jae is on the record saying he's not going to rush back and danger more damage to his ankle.
The silver lining here - if there can be one watching these last few awful games - is that Danny Ainge can plainly see that this team is going to need help. Danny is always looking on ways to improve the squad, but the teams performance without Al and Jae has to be eye-opening. This team has needed another big man that can rebound even when those were guys playing. We all know he's looking to keep his assets and options open for a big deal or signing down the line, but here's to hoping he can at least get us some desperately needed help on the front court sooner rather than later.
Photo Credit - GETTY Images
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Mark Allison 11/10/2016 12:34:00 PM Tweet Edit