I’ve spent most of this Celtics season yelling things at the TV like “PapaSportif,” “Ojeleye Factory,” “SMARF,” and “Erotic City” (much to the confusion of my wife), so just need to shoutout @HebertofRiffs for his guidance this year.
— Cutlet (@GoodCutlet) December 31, 2017
In my heart of hearts, I can’t imagine actively cheering for a sports team from the Boston metropolitan area, but Celtics Twitter is doing their best to win me over. (If you’re not on Twitter, or if you aren’t familiar with the wacky kaleidoscope of weird Boston/northeast accounts on there, just hang with me for a minute. I’ll flip back to a mass appeal point shortly.) Their fans have an insane amount of fun online; in their world, Marcus Smart (18-3-3, a game high +17 tonight) is SMARF, a badass whose hobbies include being a real-life Mortal Kombat character and an active member of Antifa. Terry Rozier (14 points, 9 boards) is an overconfident and zany manic-pixie-dream-baller. Semi Ojeleye has a #thickandjackedframe that is impossible to move on the low block. Guerschon Yabusele is the source of life and happiness. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the precocious young players who are impossibly good, and fit impossibly well into the Celtics’ system. Despite the vast differences in levels of talent between all those players, all are celebrated. Tatum and Brown could be All-Stars someday; Smart and Rozier are already quality role players; Ojeleye and Yabusele are damned good prospects to have stored on the bench. And I haven’t even mentioned Kyrie Irving, the All-Seeing Eye, a walking, talking galaxy brain who happens to be one of the best basketball players on the (very, very flat) planet. Or Al Horford, the exceptional center who holds it all together. The term some of these fans have for exceptional plays, when the ball whips around the floor to find the best shot, or a young player beats his man for a dunk, or Marcus Smart burrows into his opponent’s head, is Erotic City, a nod to the Prince song of the same name.
A lot goes into a fan base’s relationship with its team; there’s a certain joy I see in following a team like the Celtics that I don’t necessarily see in following the Wolves. It has less to do with excellence and accessibility as it does with flair and originality. There’s no one in the league quite like Marcus Smart. Very few have handles in Kyrie’s stratosphere. Same with Ojeleye and his combat muscles. No other rookie has shot it as well as Jayson Tatum. Few are as bright and precocious as Jaylen Brown. What do the Wolves have? Jimmy Butler has that flair, that it factor, but he’s alone in that regard. KAT, for all his statistical accolades, lacks a certain edge. Wiggins is quiet and extremely reserved. We hardly know Jeff Teague. Tyus is the local favorite, but that only goes so far. Shabazz Muhammad had moments, stretches as an unconventional try-hard wild card, but his popularity dwindled with his minutes.
I know, I know; the grass is always greener, isn’t it? The Celtics are a terrific team, with an excellent coach, and a roster plump-full of intriguing players, many of them still on the rise. All is well and fun in Beantown. The Wolves are very good, with a good coach, with a few principal members of the roster and several interchangeable ones. Maybe it’s all the years of losing; maybe we aren’t equipped for that particular style of joy and celebration, yet.
Anyway… the game…
- Towns had a monster stat line, finishing with 25 points and 23 rebounds, but the Wolves were out-rebounded as a team, 56-to-43.
- The Celtics missed 30 of their 36 three-point attempts, but they had plenty of good looks. There was a lid on both baskets tonight; the Wolves, for their own part, shot 37% from the floor and 30% from three.
- Points in the paint: Boston – 50, Minnesota – 24. Yikes.
- Minnesota notched just 15 assists, the night after recording a season-low 10. The offense is in a funk; perhaps Jeff Teague is more critical to its success than we thought?
- Speaking of which, shoutout to Aaron Brooks. He took over early in the third quarter when Tyus Jones picked up his fourth foul; from the time he took over until the end of that period, the Wolves shot 50% from the field and committed just two turnovers. He ran the offense well. It’s not much of a silver lining, but it’s a fact.
- The Wolves committed six turnovers in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back possessions by Jimmy Butler.
- Two nights after allowing one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league (Brooklyn) to catch fire from beyond the arc, the Wolves allowed one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (Boston) to grab 5 offensive boards in the final period. Minnesota was actually doing a fine job of getting stops; but those second and third possessions were killer.
- The team returns home for a big five game homestand this coming week – a quick turnaround to start it off, as the Wolves take on the Pelicans Saturday night at Target Center.