What can you learn from the biggest blowout loss of the season? Is there anything you can take away from a 44-point loss besides frustration, embarrassment or helplessness? This road trip has been a one-way ticket straight to basketball hell.
Over the course of the last-four games San Antonio has lost by a combined 127 points. One hundred twenty-seven. During that stretch Spurs fans have seen incomplete rosters, complete meltdowns offensively and a lack of defensive fortitude. Any sense of optimism surrounding the club’s fun 6-game home stand has vanished faster than you can say Victor Wembanyama.
There was a glimpse at what success can look like against Boston. The Spurs guards were getting downhill off of screens and handoff from Zach Collins. Devin Vassell was hitting mid range jumpers, making good passing reads in the pick and roll and shooting confidently from deep. He looked like he was poised for a huge night based on the first 6 minutes. Collins was spacing the floor well, and Malaki Branham started to build on his solid performance in Washington. Most importantly, the offense did not turn the ball over in that quarter, a rarity these days!
“He’s the best shooting guard in the league,” Malcolm Brogdon said of Brown. “He’ll be All-NBA, he’ll make one of the team’s this year. His game really speaks for itself. When (Jayson Tatum) is out, he’s the No. 1 option. He’s showing that he can be that. He’s put in the work, he’s evolved. Since we came in the league together, he’s evolved and taken giant steps forward every year, and he’s playing at an extremely high level.”
Jayson Tatum injury status vs. Wizards
It’s now officially going to be just a one-game injury layoff for Tatum. This is after the All-Star swingman was removed from Tuesday’s injury report against the Wizards. Clearly, the Celtics just gave their superstar a night off on Saturday, and he is now set to return to the court against Washington.
In other injury news, Jaylen Brown will also be available on Tuesday despite still dealing with a facial injury. Payton Pritchard is probable to play, while Danilo Gallinari remains out.
As for the Wizards, they have already ruled out Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma. Daniel Gafford and Monte Morris are both questionable to play.
It appears that Washington has now gone into full tank mode as they look toward the 2023 NBA Draft. The white flag seems to have already been waived, and the Wizards look like their intent on losing as many games as they can the rest of the way. This should start on Tuesday, with Jayson Tatum and the Celtics entering that matchup as the heavy favorites to win.
The Spurs were the inverse of Boston in the final 3 quarters. They turned the ball over, were stagnant on offense and didn’t get to the paint nearly enough. Without Jeremy Sochan and Keldon Johnson, no one on the roster puts consistent pressure on the rim. Tre Jones is good at getting downhill in the pick and roll, but he’s not a strong enough finisher yet. Vassell would rather take a contested step back jumper than get into the paint, and besides Branham, not many of the other Spurs are creative enough off of the bounce to get there themselves. It’s hard to shoot a good percentage without getting into the paint and playing inside out.
What’s wild is that the NBA’s decision to classify players this way actually cost Jayson Tatum big bucks on his rookie extension. Tatum was eligible at guard and forward after the 2020-21 season and muscled onto four ballots as a guard. He spotted on 39 ballots as a forward and, thus, classified there.
Tatum actually tallied more total ballot points (69) than All-NBA third team guard Kyrie Irving (61) but was not eligible for a guard spot despite getting votes there. The disaster scenario for Brown would be landing on more ballots as a guard but not totaling enough points to land one of those six spots given the abundance of competition there.
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