The Boston Celtics are a team that desperately needs to return to full strength.
They dropped their third straight after a 91-82 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday, a team that is facing a similar amount of adversity as the NBA deals with an increase in COVID-19 cases league-wide.
LA moves above .500 to 18-17 with the win, while Boston falls to 16-19.
Check out the full box score here.
ONE BIG TAKEAWAY
The Celtics have been brutal all season in the fourth quarter, and obviously the impacts of COVID-19 health and safety protocols only highlighted that. Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Dennis Schröder all were among the players missing in Boston’s rotation against the Clippers, with Smart out due to a hand laceration and the others among players sidelined due to the virus.
But in two consecutive games now, coach Ime Udoka has started the final frame with questionable lineups. Against the Clippers, it was Sam Hauser, Brodric Thomas and Romeo Langford who got run alongside Al Horford and Josh Richardson. In a six-point game (at the time) there’s just not a lot going on there unless you’re hunting for 3-pointers — which they did, rotating in Pritchard (0-for-5 from deep) to the tune of a 9.5% team average from deep all game. ISO Joe Johnson did not make an appearance, despite his ability to at least generate offense.
STARS OF THE GAME
— Robert Williams now has put together three consecutive strong performances, on Wednesday putting up a 16-point, 14-rebound double-double. Throw in two blocks and an assist for good measure.
— A case could have been made for Josh Richardson to start the game Wednesday over Pritchard or Langford, and in his first game back from protocols had six points, two rebounds, three assists, three steals and a block.
— It wasn’t his day from deep, but Jaylen Brown gave Boston a fighting chance with 30 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
As Boston without much of its offensive core, there was money to be made on LA’s bettors odds with DraftKings Sportsbook favoring the Celtics at -6 against the spread and -235 moneyline before the game. A $100 bet on the Clippers to win would payout $190.
The Celtics remain home to host the Phoenix Suns in a New Year’s Eve matinee, with tip-off at 1 p.m. ET.