The Boston Celtics dropped the back end of a home-and-home to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday at Barclays Center by a score of 112-107, and it wasn’t pretty.
If you’re looking for somewhere to point your finger following Boston’s fifth loss of the year, we have two directions for you, so pick your poison.
The Nets hit 17 3-pointers, adding to the recent trend of Boston’s struggle to defend the deep ball. The Celtics entered Friday tied for the NBA’s third-worst 3-point defense. Opponents were shooting 36.2 percent from deep against Boston, while firing 3’s at a 41.3 percent frequency, fourth-highest in the league. Sure, that might also say something about the quality of Boston’s interior effort, but it doesn’t bode all that well for the rest of its game.
Marcus Smart often is lauded for his ability to guard every position, and rightfully so. At 6-foot-3, he presents the impressive ability to guard big men on nearly every NBA roster. That’s a huge defensive advantage when the Celtics want to run small, but it means the rest of Boston’s perimeter defenders need to step up when he moves inside.
Even more prevalent than Brooklyn’s outside shooting was Boston’s sloppy play. The Celtics coughed up a season-high 19 turnovers, which ultimately prevented them from being able to complete the full comeback. The giveaways were a problem from the jump, and head coach Brad Stevens noted this after the game.
“Turnovers killed us,” Stevens said, per NBC Sports Boston’s postgame coverage. “I don’t want to take away from Brooklyn, though. They did a really good job. … The start of the game really hurt us. I thought they were probably more ready than us, and they punched us in the mouth.”
Here are some other notes from Friday’s Celtics-Nets game:
— The Celtics bench has provided a nice spark of late, and did so once again Friday.
The bench unit, led by Brad Wanamaker, posted 39 points in the loss and kept Boston in this one when Brooklyn looked to pull away. Wanamaker had 11 points, eight rebounds and three assists in 18 minutes for his fifth double-figure effort in the Celtics’ last six games.
In Gordon Hayward’s absence, Wanamaker has provided quality minutes for Stevens as a reliable primary ball-handler, while showing off some scoring too. He’s been extremely important for Boston, and you can be sure his minutes won’t disappear when Hayward returns.
— Enes Kanter had another solid game off the bench with eight points and six rebounds on 5-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. He was a plus-10 over that span.
Kanter’s defense still is an issue, but he’s been relatively good since returning from injury Nov. 11. His offensive rating of 114 was second to only Jayson Tatum (115) for Boston on Friday, while his defensive rating of 95.1 was the Celtics’ second-best value for players with a minimum of 15 minutes.
— Kemba Walker struggled to get going in Brooklyn, going 1-for-8 from deep and just 6-of-19 from the floor. He finished with 17 points, just two days after dropping 39 on the same Nets squad.
It’s worth noting that Walker was taken off the floor in a stretcher one week ago Friday, so we’ll cut him some slack, and you probably should too.
— Boston will stay in New York after the loss and head to Madison Square Garden on Sunday for an afternoon matchup with the Knicks. Tip-off is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.