2017-18 Season

Celtics 91, Timberwolves 84: Erotic City is a State of Mind

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.
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3 thoughts on “Celtics 91, Timberwolves 84: Erotic City is a State of Mind

  1. – Aaron Brooks filled in admirably like you said. I really liked how he drove to the lane and collapsed the defense some and then finding the open guy. We need more of that from Butler and Wiggins. If they drive, defenses will be scared and have to collapse on them and then they can kick out to Teague or potentially Towns on the 3 point line. It’s so simple but with Thibs, he’ll never do that.

    – More Towns on the block please. Every game. Run the offense through Towns. He’s a top 3 center in terms of offensive game. Feed him the rock down low. But of course with Thibs, he won’t because Thibs is Thibs.

    – It just seems like Wiggins and Butler have no chemistry together. They’re doing their own things, not looking to set each other up or just compliment each other. They need to figure it out. They should be flying all over the court, setting screens for each other, driving and kicking. None of that is happening.

    – Jayson Tatum > Andrew Wiggins

    – Jaylen Brown > Andrew Wiggins

    – Great block by Butler on Smart that was called a foul. Glad the ESPN guys caught it too. Just another example of how NBA refs are terrible and you just need to flail and fall to the ground to get a foul.

    – I’m becoming less and less of a Wiggins fan.

    – Wiggins still sucks at defense.

    – We still suck in the 4th quarter. Once again, nothing is being done to improve that so that falls on Thibs inability to coach and switch things up.

    – Transition D is still bad. Once again, falls on the coach. Sometimes it’s the players fault but for how often it happens, the blame has to be put on the coach.

    – The Celtics are a great team, but the way they were shooting tonight, we had a great opportunity to win it. But faltered down the stretch, like usual. If they were hitting their shots, we would’ve lost by 20.

    – This team is missing quality bench players. We don’t really have anyone that can come off the bench and fit in seamlessly with the starters and make a difference. Gorgui looks out of place. Crawford is too much of a ball hog. Belly looks terrible. Brooks played well tonight as I said above. But we don’t have a Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier. We need players like that and for our bench to step up and be more impactful.

    Fire Thibs.

  2. Andrew Wiggins has been playing like he is high during the game. His shot, which was so pretty when he entered the league is now kind of flat and is constantly off more than on. His first FT is never good, but his second looks perfect,so it is a concentration thing. The kid used to throw down on some tough shot blockers and now he gets stopped or is settling for floaters. His defense is worse than ever before. He looks out of place and not a future star on the rise.

    When teams put together power trios, it seems that one player is always the odd man out. KG gave up scoring to Allen and Pierce. Bosh to LeBron and Wade. KLove for Kyrie and James. They did the other things for the betterment of the team. Early this year, Jimmy was deferring to KAT and Wiggins. Those two scored, while he was passing and defending. Once that stagnated, Jimmy took over and KAT seemed to lose his power status. Now it is Wiggins. But he seems reluctant or incapable of doing the other things to help the team or himself get better. He needs to be challenged or embarrassed into stepping up.

    Thibs should give him the ball as the point guard and have him run the offense to Jimmy and KAT when Tyus needs a break. Go big. If Belly was worth a darn, I would have him play SF, but I think Hunt or BAZ should come in for some energy. Crawford would take over too much and should replace Butler when Jimmy needs a break. If Andrew doesn’t get into a groove soon, this two game losing streak will grow fast and the other two stars will reject him like LeBron and Kyrie did with Love. Have him get some Teague assists, force him to guard quicker players and take shots late in the shot clock or drive from the top of the key on pick and roll. Smart outplayed him and so did Tatum and so did Brown. Have him guard Kyrie and either get nationally laughed at or rise up like he did his first year against LeBron and take back his rising star. I think NOLA would be a perfect game to try it out.

  3. Sorry obnoxious Boston fans, it’s cute you have nicknames but your players aren’t really that interesting. There is one guy on that team who is irreplaceable and fascinating–Brad Stevens.

    This game was all about being out coached. And it isn’t even that Stevens is such a crazy genius. It’s more like he’s doing what most of the coaches in the league are currently doing, but a little snappier. Our coach is not doing what most [successful] coaches in the league are doing. And there’s nothing snappy about him, except maybe his temper.

    We are lucky we didn’t get blown out in this one. Boston took a ton of threes and most of them were god looks. They only made 6-36 even though the looks were excellent all night. We hit a favorable outlier as far as bad shooting goes for them and still got soundly beat. You could look at the game as one with two cold teams and someone had to win. But we were cold because we were defended well and had no adjustment recourse. We also don’t know how to hammer on an advantage and lay off a weakness in a particular game. We didn’t defend Boston that well. As the VanGundy pointed out, we don’t finish D possessions. We might start them well, but we always seem to get broken down for a good look by the end of the clock. Our transition D is nonexistent.

    Boston plays an efficient game. They take a lot of threes and a lot of shots in the paint. It’s a major concern of their strategy. They are good at offensive rebounding. We basically got killed on the glass. KAT had a ton of rebounds but no one else did. They have a knack for rebounding their large volume of long shots. We never seem to be in the right place for long rebounds on D.

    For the Wolves’ part, no one team defended up to snuff. Only Towns played as good as we expect him to or better. Looking at Brown and Tatum it’s hard not to be jealous. They look like what we want Wiggins to be. They both played poorly in many ways but found ways to help their team win. Something Wiggins never does if he’s not ‘rolling’. On some level, though, it’s not that they are so much more talented or have such a better personality for the game than Wiggins ( although this may be true). But what is obvious is that Stevens has an uncanny knack for getting the most our of his players, esp his young ones. Thibs has a knack for NOT getting the most out of his players, esp young ones. We constantly wonder about where our young talent will end up (and have already started to sell it off out of exasperation) because of this. So many questions about this team would be answered, so many flaws stifled if we simply were good at player development. Boston is what fantastic team and player development looks like. Minnesota is what quicksand team and player development looks like.

    The offense has been fine without Teague. Another thing to be jealous of Boston about is their bench. Teague being out makes our bad and underused bench even more pathetic. But that’s about it. We didn’t look like we did tonight because Teague wasn’t starting. Tyus played fine but had to sit (I think more than necessary by a lot) due to foul trouble. No one but KAT really showed up and played like they usually did, but Tyus was far from the weak link. We have much bigger problems than Jeff Teague being out. The last two games we have had a low number of team assists. But this was always a problem with the system we use. Teague was good at getting numbers in spite of this (often that’s just what they were–numbers more than results) and that helped statistically cover up just how bad the team assist problem is. Tyus moves the ball pretty well. He needs to get better and creating with his passing. But our team ball movement and the way we spread the floor, run action (or lack of it) lean on iso ball, our inability to force our will down low even with Towns, our poor handling of pick and roll all make team ball movement hard to sustain even if it is a focus of the players (is it?). Teague won’t fix this. At best he’ll offer a cosmetic band aid.

    Don’t expect OK play from Brooks to be an everyday thing. Of course, I’m sure Thibs is as happy as a clam about it and has no plans to upgrade the 3rd PG position this season. Great.

    Letting Marcus Smart score 28 on you is just sad.

    Does one look at Boston’s talent (and that alone) and ours and say, ‘Boston is terrific! Minnesota is just good.’? I don’t. Boston isn’t a terrific roster. Brown and Tatum and exciting young guys who are still just starting out and have a lot of holes. Irving is good on offense and brilliantly covered on D. Smart is basically a honed pest. Al Horford is an average offensive oriented PF. Baynes is a career bench player. Rosier is a good bench piece. That’s really better than KAT, Wiggins, Gibson, Butler, Crawford, Tyus, [eventually Teague] Gorgui? I guess a key is depth, but put basically, no, Boston isn’t a better set of talents than MN. Their coach is terrific, and ours is not.

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