Player Grades: No one gets an "A" as the Celtics drop Game 2 against the Nets
Maddie Meyer. Getty Images.
As the title states, no one is getting an A in this edition of Player Grades. The Boston Celtics were blown out last night by the Brooklyn Nets, losing 130-108. This puts the Celtics in a difficult position, as they are now down 0-2 in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. In a game that was never close, it’s difficult to give any player an A, especially when no one played particularly inspiring basketball. With that being said, let’s jump into it, and see who at least played above average basketball.
Kemba Walker: B
In comparison to everyone else that played last night, Walker had a solid game in his 30 minutes on the court. He scored 17 points on 5/11 shooting from the field, and dished out 7 assists. Walker had 9 points in the first quarter alone, and it was good to see him come out strong after an abysmal shooting performance in Game 1. Walker got to the freethrow line four times, where he shot ⅞, which was nice to see after he struggled to draw contact at the rim for most of the regular season. His statline didn’t do much to tilt the game in Boston’s favor, he was one of the Celtics’ few bright spots in my opinion.
Marcus Smart: B
Smart was another bright spot in the torrential downpour that was yesterday’s loss. He didn’t have any signature Smart plays on defense that pumped up the Celtics bench, but he shot an efficient 6/13 from the field to score a team high 19 points in a team high 31 minutes. He went ⅝ from beyond the three-point line, and had a little hot streak in the third quarter, that was nice to see. It’s never a great sign when Marcus Smart is your leading scorer for the game, but someone had to score, and Smart stepped up for a brief period.
Evan Fournier: B+
Evan Fournier earned the highest grade for the game with his performance last night. He was a very efficient 5/9 from the field, scoring 16 points and leading the Celtics starters with a -11 +/- *yikes*. Fournier earned a little boost in his grade due to his confrontation with Kevin Durant late in the third quarter. Someone needs to show some heart on this team, so from here on out, bonus points to any Celtics player that does!
I really don’t know how else to put it, but what a garbage performance by Jayson Tatum. Before leaving the game, Tatum shot 3/12 from the field, scoring 9 points to go with 3 turnovers and a team worst -28 +/-. I don’t know what it is, but Tatum constantly gets off to slow starts, which makes things even worse when he gets hurt and only plays 21 minutes in the game.
I’m not trying to dump all over Tatum, but the fact that he was poked in the eye, and then couldn’t play for the rest of the game infuriates me. I recognize that the game was already over at the time of Tatum’s injury, but the fact that he was poked in the eye, and then carried the ball out of bounds, committing a turnover, was beyond frustrating. As a superstar player and alleged leader on this team, this isn’t winning basketball. Vanessa Bryant revealed in her Basketball Hall of Fame speech that Kobe Bryant used to suit up even when he was hurt for the fans attending that specific game, and could only afford to see Kobe play one time. I’d like to see Tatum adopt that same mentality moving forward, especially during the NBA Playoffs.
It is astonishing to me that in 655 games neither Tatum nor Brown have ever even had a dust up w an opponent 😡
Thompson rebounded (ha, get it?) nicely from his Game 1 performance statistically, scoring 15 points and grabbing 11 total rebounds, 8 offensive. What hurts his grade here is how often he was burned defensively by the Nets. In the two games so far, the Nets have essentially employed a small-ball centerless starting lineup, where either Kevin Durant or Blake Griffin match-up with the traditional center in Thompson. While Thompson can handle Griffin defensively, Durant is a matchup nightmare in switches, especially when he’s at the three-point line. The Celtics simply don’t have the players to effectively guard Durant or match up with the Nets’ small-ball lineup, so this is probably the best we’re going to get.
Rob Williams: D
Now I don’t know if I’m being too harsh here, because I know it’s Timelord’s thing to get blocks, but it seemed like Williams was jumping at EVERYTHING last night. And if I noticed it, the Nets definitely noticed it, as they took advantage of Williams and burned him several times. Most notably, Williams jumped to foul James Harden on an and-one three-pointer, and later in the game he fouled Blake Griffin for an and-one dunk. I understand Williams is playing through a turf toe injury, and I applaud him for that, but he has to recognize when to go for the block, and when to use his size to play sound, positional defense.
Nesmith played a bench-high 18.5 minutes for the Celtics, and provided his usual energy and hustle. However, he failed to score in his time on the court, going 0/5 from the field and finishing with a bench-low -6 +/-. I realize Nesmith is pretty outmatched when he’s the leading wing player off the bench in a playoff series for the Celtics, but it would have been good to see him hit a few shots in his time on the floor.
Romeo Langford: D-
You might be wondering why I included Langford in this edition of Player Grades. That’s because he played 18 minutes off the bench for the Celtics, around half of which were not in garbage time. When I read the Celtics stat sheet, I was shocked to see this, as unlike Nesmith, I didn’t notice Langford doing much of anything on the floor. He shot 2/7 from the field, and at least one field goal I can confirm seeing him make in garbage time. Again, I realize he’s pretty outmatched on the court due to his overall lack of experience, but it would be nice to see something from the Celtics’ first round pick just two years ago.
While a whopping 15 players saw the floor in last night’s game for the Celtics (everyone except Tacko, who couldn’t dress), no other player registered more than 13 minutes on the floor, and most of it was in garbage time. Due to this, I won’t hand out any more Player Grades, as they didn’t have a fair chance to make an impact.
Brad Stevens: F
Coach Stevens threw everything but the kitchen sink last night at the Nets, but nothing seemed to work. This hurts his rating, but it isn’t what sinks it. The announcers and Celtics Twitter stated early on in the game was that while this game was over after the first quarter, the Celtics would at least go on a run. That never happened, and for that I blame Stevens. Fans have criticized Stevens all season long for his seeming “lack of passion,” or his inability to inspire his players. It felt like that was the case last night, as the Celtics appeared to throw in the towel after going down big early in the game. They just coasted, and they never cut it below a 20 point deficit. As the coach of the Boston Celtics, that’s laughable, Boston fans don’t tolerate that here. I’m still uncertain on whether a coaching change is necessary in the offseason, as I don’t know who the Celtics could bring in that’s better, but Stevens needs to step it up. ASAP.