How Celtics All-Star, Brad Stevens’ Adjustments Fell Short For Boston

Getty Images Celtics head coach Brad Stevens

Without two key starters, the Boston Celtics’ (21-22) offense against the Memphis Grizzlies was magnificent but the adverse approach on the opposite end ultimately cost head coach Brad Stevens another disappointing loss.

In a 132-126 overtime-defeat, the Celtics got off on the wrong foot in the extra period and it was enough to catapult a 5-0 Grizzlies run. Dillion Brooks (24 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds) pulled down an offensive rebound and found Jonas Valanciunas (16 points, 19 rebounds) for a layup for Memphis to break the tie (121-119).

Then, after Jaylen Brown (27 points) missed a 13-footer, the Grizzlies’ sharpshooter Grayson Allen made the Celtics pay in transition; connecting on a 24-foot stepback 3-pointer to push the Grizzlies’ lead to five (124-119). We’ve seen this pattern before throughout the course of the regular season, however, for the Celtics, this one stung more than usual.

Without the team’s leading scorer in All-Star Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker, the Celtics shot 52.2% from the floor while converting 47 made field goals off of 31 assists.

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Still, the Grizzlies handed Boston its newest ‘L’ — one that sits atop of a pile that is, unfortunately, slightly higher than the column before it.

“We had this one,” Brown said after Monday’s overtime loss. “(Expletive), like, we had it. We played really hard, had a lot of guys step up; step into roles that they usually don’t play in. I was proud of that. But we still could have got this win. This is definitely one we want back.”

Jaylen finished with a team-high 27 points but he struggled with trying to keep up with Brooks, who made 10-of-22 attempts. Ball movement was key for the Celtics, it was a part of the adjustments made prior to the road trip, and the high-percentage looks in transition along with the outside touch — where Boston made 48.6% of their threes (17-of-35).

“We’ve made adjustments on the offensive end, what we want to look for,” Brown explained after the loss. “Cutting is one. Threes and layups is something they’re challenging me with; less midrange jump shots, things like that. I’ve been really good in those areas but that’s just something for our team that we feel like is a better shot. So, continuing to just make the right plays the best we can.”

Jaylen Brown On Celtics’ Adjustments: ‘A Lot Of Teams Will Be Confused When We Come Together’

Memphis’ offense was also cooking — the Grizzlies shot 50% from the floor but the difference, Monday, was a combination of second-half shooting and dominating the glass. Valanciunas’ game-high 19 rebounds led the Grizzlies to finish +11 (54-43) against the Celtics in rebounding and after Memphis made only 4-of-15 from behind the arc in the first half, they drained 8-of-20 in the second.

“A lot of stuff that we added — a lot of the cutting actions that we’ve been doing — have been good for us,” Brown said. “A lot of teams will get confused when we come together and stuff like that. So, we’ve got to keep that up. It makes the game easier for everybody and as we continue to get better at it, I think it’ll get better, to be honest. I like the additions to the offense that we’ve had.”

Brad Stevens: ‘Last Two Nights Have Been A Lot More Like Celtics Basketball’

All in all so did Stevens. However, when the Grizzlies got off to their 5-0 run in overtime, the Celtics regressed to quick attempts and contested looks.

The ball stopped moving and the offense grew stagnant. Unlike what we saw throughout most of the night in Memphis along with Sunday’s performance at TD Garden, where the hot shooting Celtics shot 41.8% from deep while making 23 threes.

“The last two nights have been a lot more like Celtics basketball. So, I’m disappointed we didn’t play better in overtime,” Stevens said. “I thought the ball stopped a little bit more in overtime and maybe that was due to legs, all that stuff because those guys were all playing a little heavier minutes than usual. But they were battling.”

Next up for the Celtics on their four-game road trip is a two-game series against the Bucks in Milwaukee that will start on Wednesday and end on Friday.

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