The Boston Celtics look rusty, inferior in restart opener vs. Bucks

NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
NBA Boston Celtics Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /

Boston Celtics struggled in restart opener

In their first official game since the NBA season was paused in March, the Boston Celtics were not ready for the aggression they would face from the (53-12) Milwaukee Bucks. Going down quickly 17-2 in the opening minutes of the game, Boston showed their biggest flaws as they lost to the Bucks 119-112.

Maybe the team still had some rust coming in, as the Celtics were at least able to make the game competitive in the second half but it will remain to be seen if that’s true until the next time the Celtics take the floor.

What Boston did show tonight is that despite the hype the team’s gotten over the past few months about potentially being a Finals contender in the Eastern Conference, they are still not in the same class as Giannis and the Milwaukee Bucks.

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The good news is that the Celtics have time to shake off the rust and round out into a potential dark horse contender in the playoffs.

What went wrong for the Boston Celtics? 

One immediate thing that comes to mind when looking at the Celtics performance against the Bucks is that their stars just weren’t ready to play. It was a bad sign to see that against one of the best teams in the NBA. In the restart opener, the Celtics’ best players on the floor were Marcus Smart (23 points) and Daniel Theis (13 points).

For the rest of the team, there were flashes of the star moments we expect from Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Gordon Hayward but not full game consistency. If the Celtics want to be at the Bucks level, then they need to play their best for 48 minutes of basketball.

Jayson Tatum, who was the team’s best player before the season went on hiatus, had a pretty rough outing. Tatum finished with five points in 32 minutes of action, shooting 2-18 from the field.  He was off all night and you could see him pressing.

Jaylen Brown finished with a respectable 22 points but only shot 6-15 from the field. He also battled foul trouble for most of the afternoon.

Kemba Walker was a bright spot showing that he has regained a lot of shiftiness and athleticism he was lacking due to a lingering knee injury but he only got 19 minutes of playing time thanks to a minute restriction enforced by the team. He finished with 16 points.

Finishing off the quartet, Gordon Hayward was the best of the Celtics’ core four putting up 17 points, nine rebounds, and six assists while doing a little bit of everything including handling most of the playmaking duties in place of Walker.

As a team, the Celtics shot just 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range. On the defensive side of the court, Giannis Antetokounmpo roamed free without a rim-protecting presence. Giannis finished with 36 points to lead all scorers.

What now for the Boston Celtics? 

Boston doesn’t have much time to improve, they need to make adjustments now. The Celtics are a team still trying to work their way up to the second seed in the East to avoid the potential of facing a  dangerous team like Miami, Indiana, or Philadelphia in the first round so they need to get back to form quickly.

Luckily for the Celtics, the team showed that even in one of their worst team performances of the season they can still be competitive. The Celtics shook off their slow start to tie and even lead the Bucks in the fourth quarter if the team played even an ounce better than they did they might have one the game.

Boston can still be the dangerous team that people think they’re destined to be, but they need to quickly get back to how they played at their peak during the regular season. A team with five excellent ball-handlers in the beautiful screen-heavy offensive system of Brad Stevens is something that can put a lot of pressure on defense but those players need to be better.

If the Celtics want to come out of the East, they most likely are going to have to go through this Bucks team again, so to do that they’re going to need their stars to be stars again, consistent shooting, and better interior defense.

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Until then it has to be said the Celtics are a peg below the Bucks and can’t be viewed in the same category of contention as the NBA’s elite.