C’s defense hits a new low in blowout losses

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Celtics-Thunder takeaways: C’s defense hits new low in blowout loss appeared first on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics’ four-game road trip is off to a rough start.

After dropping Sunday’s game in Denver, the C’s were blown out by the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, 150-117. OKC led by as many as 37 points against a sluggish Boston team that lost its first game at Paycom Center since 2016.

The Thunder put up 74 points in the first half, the most the Celtics have allowed this season. Their 48 third quarter points were a franchise record and their 122 points through three quarters marked the most allowed by the C’s in franchise history. Oklahoma City accomplished that feat without top scorer Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was a late scratch due to a non-COVID illness.

Frustration boiled over late in the third quarter as the Celtics guard Marcus Smart earned his second technical error and he was sent out. Jaylen Brown (29 points) and Jayson Tatum (26 points) was the only bright spot for the C’s, who were without big man Robert Williams (injury management). Payton Pritchard scored 17 points in 14 minutes of garbage time.

Seven Thunder players scored in double figures as the team shot a ridiculous 59.2 percent from the floor and 50 percent (20-for-40) from 3-point range. Josh Giddey led the way for Oklahoma City with 25 points and Luguentz Dort added 23. Tre Mann, Isaiah Joe, and Jalen Williams each added 21 points.

Here are our takeaways from the Celtics’ worst loss of the season so far, which takes them to 26-12 on the campaign. Next up is a trip to Dallas for Luka Doncic and the Mavericks on Thursday night.

Defense deficiencies on display

It’s no secret that this Celtics defense has diminished compared to last season’s dominant group. Their issues have never been clearer than in the first two games of this road trip.

Their 123 points allowed to the Nuggets on Sunday was the most they had allowed in regulation this season … until Tuesday. It took OKC just three quarters and some change to top that mark. His 150 points were just 10 shy of tying the record for most points scored in a game against the Celtics, and it was just the third time the C’s had Allow 150 or more points in the licensing history.

The Celtics looked defenseless from the opening shot. They allowed 40 points in the second quarter and failed to make the necessary halftime adjustments as they allowed 48 in the third quarter. While the Thunder undoubtedly deserve credit for their performance, it was evident that the other side lacked energy and effort.

One of the most notable numbers in the blowout was OKC’s 70 points in the paint, the most against the Celtics this season. The previous high was 68 by the Lakers in last month’s overtime game. It’s fair to say that Robert Williams was missed, although Boston’s defensive problems go far beyond the absence of the big man.

No help for the Jays

Brown and Tatum were the only starters with double figures in the scoring column. Calum Brogdon had 17 points off the bench but his shooting problems continued as he was only 4-for-12 from the floor. Pritchard scored his 17 on 7-of-13 shooting when the game was already well out of reach.

Celtics players not named Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum or Payton Pritchard shot 14-for-43 (32.5 percent). Al Horford had no answer for the Thunder defensively and only added two points. Smart had seven points before being ejected in the third quarter and Derrick White had eight points on 2-of-8 shooting (1-for-6 from 3).

The supporting cast has been inconsistent of late, and they will need to turn it around to keep up with Doncic and the Mavs on Thursday.

Bad things come in threes

Sunday’s loss to the Nuggets was the Celtics’ sixth game with a 3-point percentage below 30% in their last 10 games. They hit that mark by 30% on the nose when they lost on Tuesday.

Their consistent struggles from long range made the difference along with their porous defence. OKC had the same number of 3-point attempts (40) but hit eight more of them (20). Pritchard led the Celtics with three 3-pointers and played just 14 minutes. Both Brown and Tatum were 2-for-7 from beyond the arc.

The C’s should find their groove again from 3 at some point, but their recent woes are frightening. Many of the missed 3s have been wide open shots. Perhaps it is a sign that they have been far too reliant on the 3 ball to be successful this season.

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