The Spurs, missing their best player in Kawhi Leonard, were outworked and outplayed by a hungry Boston Celtics squad led by Kyrie Irving with solid contributions from Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier to put the game out of reach late. Brandon Paul had a solid effort for the Spurs, but the lack of interior defense from the Spurs led to too many easy Celtics buckets for the Spurs to contend seriously.
After both teams struggled to score to start the game, LaMarcus Aldridge scored the first points of the game for the Spurs, and Aron Baynes answered immediately. The Spurs hit outside shots from Pau Gasol and Danny Green, while Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown got to the basket for the Celtics. The Spurs transition defense was porous as the Celtics got fast break points by the bushel and jumped out to a lead with easy buckets. The highlights for Spurs fans were savage blocks from Brandon Paul and Rudy Gay. The Celts led 30-26 after one.
Rudy Gay tied up the game at 31 early in the second quarter with a PUJIT*. Bryn Forbes showed why he’s on the roster by hitting open three-point shots to put the Spurs up by 6. A Patty Mills turnover and some sloppy defense allowed Boston to tie it back up, but the Spurs kept fighting and regained the lead. It didn’t last as the Celts dominated the paint and finished the quarter with a 8-0 run to lead 54-49 at halftime.
The Celts started the third quarter with hot shooting and pushed their lead to double digits with Irving doing most of the damage. The Celtics pushed the lead to 13 and the Spurs needed a spark. Finally, Brandon Paul hit a four point play to stop the bleeding halfway through the quarter. Late threes from Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart went through for the Celtics and they led 80-67 after three.
The Spurs started the fourth with a little more life and grit, but the Celtics started to get hot from outside with Rozier hitting three point shots and cashing turnovers into buckets to extend the lead as the Spurs began to fade. The Celtics used crisp ball movement to get big men open in the paint for easy alley oops and putbacks. With a big lead, Pop put in backups including Derrick White and Davis Bertans and there was more hustle from the Spurs with that unit than there had been earlier. But Jayson Tatum was having none of it and hit a triple to keep the game out of reach.
- This is the first of four road back-to-backs (two road games on consecutive dates) for the Silver and Black this season. I thought that was an unusually high number, but since the Spurs have 12 BTBs this year, it’s actually pretty close to what you’d expect to get from random chance.
- Dejounte Murray started quickly and was moving the ball and rebounding and even hit a floater early.
- Is it time to start worrying about Patty Mills yet? He’s had an awful start to the season.
- Kyle Anderson gets blocked a lot in the paint. His slow release and funky moves can work against one defender, but when he’s in traffic, he has trouble getting off a shot.
- *PUJIT—Pull Up Jumper In Transition.
- The Celtics doubled LaMarcus Aldridge and nobody else wearing Silver and Black was able to pick up the slack. Without Kawhi Leonard on the floor, there’s no mystery where the ball is going, and it really makes it a lot easier to defend the Spurs.
- Davis Bertans looked pretty good in garbage time. Maybe he should play more.
- The Celtics outscored the Spurs in each quarter. That’s usually a recipe for a loss.
"Time's arrow neither stands still nor reverses. It merely marches forward." - Joseph Sugarman, Bojack Horseman
The Spurs have a couple of days off before they play a home game against another team that’s not meeting expectations, the Warriors, at 7:00 pm. The game will be televised on TNT. See you in the game thread!