Listen, 1/4 of the season is where all the hot takes come to thrive! Whether it’s the Warriors are nothing right now and the NBA is more wide open than ever, or the fact that the Celtics are a glorified 4th seed. Whether the hot takes are lukewarm or scorching hot, I want them in my veins.
I love overreactions from the local networks like when NBC Sports Boston called Boston “Loserville,” completely forgetting the recent success all Boston teams have had. But fuck it, let’s get national (sorta) on these bitches and explore the different surprises around the league!
The Celtics are Playing like Assholes
Going into the season, if you thought the Celtics would be at or around .500 through 1/4 of the season, you’re either a genius or you eat ass as a trend and not because you like it.
The only consistent player as of late has been Kyrie Irving. Marcus Morris has cooled off from his hot start to the season. And Jaylen ‘5 Rings’ Brown has turned into a bum this season (not all his fault). Maybe they bought into their own hype? Maybe they’re taking opponents for granted. Maybe they’re just working out the kinks? Whatever it is, it’s caused everyone to lose their minds trying to figure out what the hell is happening.
One thing I found is how slow they start. The Celtics are 30th in 1st half scoring at 50.3 points. Not good. They try making it up in the second half by averaging 55.3 points. Their opponents average 50.6 points in the first half compared to 52.9 points in the second half. That makes them a +2.8 in average scoring margin, which is good for 9th in the league, far from the +11.1 margin of 1st place Milwaukee.
The slow starts result in very close games. The energy isn’t up in the first half of games and intensity isn’t brought until is relatively too late.
Another stat I read is that the Celtics were 21st in effective field goal percentage. Fucking gross.
If you don’t know what effective field goal percentage is, I’ll give you a definition from basketball-reference.com:
Effective Field Goal Percentage: the formula is (Field Goal + 0.5 * 3P) / Field Goal Attempts.
This statistic adjusts for the fact that a 3-point field goal is worth one more point than a 2-point field goal. For example, suppose Player A goes 4 for 10 with 2 threes, while Player B goes 5 for 10 with 0 threes. Each player would have 10 points from field goals, and thus would have the same effective field goal percentage (50%).
Overall, the Celtics are a bunch of mental cases at this moment. They’re executing the plays fine, but are not knocking down shots. This is part of the reason why I say Jaylen Brown playing horrible isn’t all his fault. He’s adjusting to the role of an off the ball shooter, which had never been his role anywhere. They’re trying to turn him into something he’s not comfortable with yet so until mid season, I won’t start to worry.
Rozier just smells. He seems to be aiming to score and become a star rather than who he really is, a role player.
Overall, as bad as their defense has been, they’re still top 4 in opponents scoring. But that number just doesn’t add up since they give up so much to the opposing point guard. Trey Burke of all people went off for 29 points and 11 assists. My boy Luka Dončić went for 15 points and 8 assists. Kemba Walker took a dump on the Celtics, exploding for 43 points. Jamal Murray went for 48, almost 51, pissing off Irving who was part of the problem on defense that night. Donovan Mitchell for 28. Do you see what I’m getting at? We need toughness to start off the game and hopefully Marcus Smart will do the job early on by being inserted in the starting lineup.
Don’t shit yourselves yet Celtics fans. The NBA season is a game of runs, which the Celtics are more than capable of.
The Clippers Tied for 1st in the Western Conference
At 13-6, the Clippers look better than ever. For awhile, they were doing good with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul leading the franchise. With that toxic waste away from the Clippers, they’ve done a fine job with what they have now. Their offense (116.8 ppg) makes up for their lack of defense (112.5 opponents ppg). After going 8-2 in their last 10 games, they now have a record of 13-6, which leads the conference.
25 year old center Montrezl Harrell is thriving in his role with the Clippers. Averaging 15.8 ppg and 7.4 rebounds, he’s balling and improving this Clippers team, showing heart and hustle.
Tobias Harris is quickly emerging as a fun player to watch, averaging 21.5 ppg to go along with 8.7 rebounds a game. Who else knew Danilo Gallinari was still in the league? Even more impressive is his 18.6 ppg to go along with his 45.8% shooting from downtown. This team is filled with role players who exceed in their own jobs and aren’t afraid to dive for balls when needed. Maybe they’ll be this years’ unexpected Utah Jazz team and make some noise in the playoffs.
Kings Show Improvement
Listen, they’re still a shitty franchise, but you have to give credit where credit is due. At 10-10, they’ve defeated the hot-start Raptors, went toe-to-toe with Golden State, and smacked around the Thunder, twice.
Zach Randolph mentoring the players on how to be professionals in this league could be part of the spark. Another could be that players are starting to accept their roles more and more.
Take Willie Cauley-Stein for example. I used to think he was a bum player. Now, he’s averaging 14.5 ppg to go along with 8.1 rebounds a game. Buddy Hield doesn’t look too shabby either. He’s shooting 45.1% from 3 and is averaging 18.8 ppg. De’Aaron Fox is a quality starting PG who’s having a better start to his career than Lonzo Ball is at the moment. 17.5 ppg and 7.5 assists isn’t bad at all.
The Kings are shooting efficiently, 7th in the league to be exact. If their young starters, like Hield and Fox continue to produce, they’ll be in a good place for years to come. They take good shots, but the teams overall consistency on defense is lacking. But 10-10 is pretty good to be, considering how bad they’ve always been. Keep it going Sacramento!
The Rockets Blow
At 9-10, Houston looks like a shell of the conference championship runner-ups from last season. It seems like they miss Trevor Ariza and took a name (Melo) over the overall importance of Ariza to that team. The Melo experiment hasn’t worked and now the Rockets don’t have a quality wing at their disposal. They couldn’t afford Ariza. Ariza is making $15 million this year while Brandon Knight, who hasn’t played since 2 years ago (knee injury), is making $14 million a year with no timetable for his return. They’re stuck with Knight until the end of the 2019-2020 season.
Now the Rockets are climbing their way back into contention (but slowly), but without a quality wing like Ariza would have been, they look like they’re in a tough spot, blaming Melo for their inadequacies. And with Chris Paul out day-to-day, it’ll be even more difficult for Harden to steer the ship in the right direction. If this horrible pace continues, they could be sellers by the trade deadline… Yuck.
These are the teams that have shocked me the most this season. If you think I’m excluding the Raptors, think about that Raptors team from a year ago. It’s the same as last year, but with an upgrade at small forward, Demar for Kawhi. That team will always play for the regular season title, only to run out of steam come the playoffs.
And the Bucks? Giannis is a freak and it was only a matter of time before he took off and had an MVP caliber year. The Grizzlies? Their toughness doesn’t surprise me because I’ve seen it for so long, I almost expect it from them every time. But they’ll forever be a middle of the pack team to me. The Spurs? Starting PG Dejuonte Murray is out after having a decent season under Coach Pop. And Demar is still acclimating himself to the Spurs. The Lakers? They have LeBron. They’re fine.
Thanks for joining any can’t wait for the mid-season review!