Checking in with the Celtics… Part 2

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors

Part 2 (Games 16-34):

Game 16 vs. Sacramento; W, 103-102:

  • Last week, the Celtics 10 game winning streak was snapped in Sacramento in a loss by one point.  It included a record game from Buddy Hield and a bouncing ball on the rim that was a centimeter from sending the Celtics home with a W. Tonight’s game was eerily similar except it ended in a Celtics W.  Boston got their “revenge” on the Kings but unfortunately, this game was anything but a resounding win.  Once again, Buddy Hield shredded the Celtics defense to the tune of 41 points (including 11 threes).  Sacramento shot 38.3% from 3 and a blistering 46.8% from the field but somehow the Celtics came away with the win.  Playing without Kemba Walker (neck injury) and Gordon Hayward (broken hand), the Celtics had to dig deep into their bench and thankfully, the result was rewarding.  Tremont Waters began his NBA career with 7 points and 3 assists in 20 min; Carsen Edwards and Robert Williams each chipped in 6 points and Semi Ojeleye got the start and tallied 7 points.  Those numbers may seem small but the collective effort of the Celtics tonight paid dividends in the end result.
  • Player of the Game: This was a hard fought, down and dirty type of game so it should come as no surprise that Marcus Smart is the player of the game.  Smart had to play on the ball more than usual with his backcourt mate Kemba Walker still recovering and he stepped up to the challenge.  Smart poured in 17 points while doling out 7 assists.  He secured the win with tough, clutch baskets and played his usual superb defense accruing 5 steals. Smart won’t get many of these awards but rest assured, he’s one of the most important players on this Boston roster.  A win is a win and Smart made sure this one went in the Celtics column.  His will to win is simply invaluable and irreplaceable on this team.

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets

Game 17 vs. Brooklyn; W, 121-110:

  • This game was always going to be more about past players than current and that’s unfortunate.  Celtics fans on Instagram and Twitter started the Kyrie Irving bashing early in the week and it only got worse when it was announced Irving would not be playing.  This led to a strange atmosphere in the Garden where you could feel the negative energy building even from outside the television.  The Celtics did their best to extinguish that vibe though and they finally did so once the second half began.  A back and forth first half led to a 34-23 third quarter in which Kemba Walker took over (see below) and the Celtics built a lead that they wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the night.  Jaylen Brown had a double double (22pts, 10rbs), Daniel Theis played great (14 pts, 8rbs) and Brad Wanamaker had a strong game off the bench with 13 points on 5/7 shooting.
  • Player of the Game: Kemba Walker was absolutely dominant in his first game back from a seemingly horrific neck injury.  In a game where the pregame conversation was all about Kyrie Irving and the failures of last season, Kemba made sure the only postgame conversation centered around his stellar play.  He finished with 39 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds in one of his best games as a Celtic. He was on fire from the get go and shot 6/10 from the 3 point line.  Kemba has been a perfect fit in Boston and despite fans in the Garden chanting at an inactive (and absent) Kyrie Irving, Kemba remained unconcerned.  Stating “If I’m on the court, I’m on the court. I wasn’t thinking about anything but wanting to win.” Us Celtics fans are happy to hear that and happy to see Kemba wearing Celtic green.

Game 18 @ Brooklyn; L, 107-112:

  • After an emotional game in Boston against the Nets, the Celtics couldn’t summon the same effort in Brooklyn. The Celtics went down early in the first quarter (31-24) and despite summoning several comeback attempts, the C’s could never quite get over the hump.  Brooklyn got a huge game out of Spencer Dinwiddie who tallied 32 points and 11 assists as the Nets got their revenge on the Celtics.  The Celtics got to within 4 points late in the 4th quarter but it was too little, too late. It was encouraging to see the Celtics fight back but they have got to do a better job of starting fast.  Tatum had a nice bounceback game after a rough shooting night the game before (see below) and Marcus Smart played his typical stout defense while adding some offensive firepower (15 points). A rough shooting night from Kemba Walker (6/19) and a lackluster game from Jaylen Brown (8 points, 34 minutes) made it tough for the Celtics to compete for the entirety of the game though.
  • Player of the Game: In a game short of bright spots, Jayson Tatum showed tremendous poise bouncing back from a poor shooting performance to come out and shoot 10/19 including 4/8 from 3 to finish with 26 points and 9 rebounds.  The Celtics were down all game but it seemed everytime Tatum came in, they mounted a rally.  Tatum is continuing to show that he can be the man but in this game, we needed someone else to step up with him.  Regardless, it’s exciting to watch Tatum taking this leap night after night.

Game 19 @ New York; W, 113-104:

  • This was an ugly game but a win nonetheless.  The Celtics allowed the Knicks to push them around all game before Enes Kanter finally started shutting some of that shit down.  Kanter entered the game in the 3rd quarter and immediately made an impact in terms of physicality on the floor.  He tallied 11 points and 11 rebounds while helping the Celtics lead a comeback against a scrappy New York team.  Brown poured in 28 points (11/18 shooting) and Kemba had 16 points and 10 assists to help put the Celtics over the top.  Smart left the game and did not return so *fingers crossed* that it’s nothing serious.
  • Player of the Game: Jayson Tatum was absolutely dominant on the offensive end in this game.  There were points where it looked like he was taking shooting practice by himself. His movements were smooth and he looked confident in every shot he took. I think the most encouraging aspect of Tatum’s game though were the assists.  He consistently made the right play again and again.  He was the main reason Boston was able to overcome the Knicks late.  He finished with 30 points and 7 assists.

Game 20 vs. Heat; W, 112-93:

  • This was a big win for the Celtics.  Miami’s torrid start to the season has been even more surprising than the Celtics start as the Heat held a 15-5 record going into this game.  Jimmy Butler torched the Celtics all game but the difference ended up being turnovers and defense.  The Celtics forced 19 turnovers, accumulated 9 steals and 8 blocks. The Heat were up 8 after 1 quarter but the Celtics turned up the D and responded with a big 32-16 second quarter.  They never looked back from there.  Big ups to Daniel Theis who had 3 of the Celtics 8 blocks and Rob Williams who added 10 rebounds with a steal and a block.  Also notable: Grant Williams got the start with Marcus Smart out with an abdominal injury.
  • Player of the Game: There was a point in the 3rd quarter where Jaylen Brown just took this game over.  Jimmy Butler was pouring in buckets (en route to 37 points) but Brown matched him step for step.  Brown finished with 31 points and 4 rebounds while shooting 5/9 from 3 and 10/20 overall. Brown hit tough, contested 3’s all game while continuing to drive hard to the rim.  His growth the last couple of games has been tremendous.  I won’t say he’s making a “leap” per se but the improvement in his offensive game is noticeable and encouraging. I’d love to see Brown continue this level of play throughout the rest of the season.

Game 21 vs. Denver; W, 108-95:

  • Denver is one of the better teams in the Western Conference and the Celtics dismantled them for the entirety of this game. Boston is now 9-0 at home this season and the Garden has been electric for each game. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum both dominated this game (see below) but contributions team wide were what made this such a resounding win.  Kemba had an off night but still finished with 19, Enes Kanter tallied 8 points 4 rebounds and 3 assists and dominated the paint when he was in the game and Brad Wanamaker continued his strong play.  The Celtics also shot a blistering 53% from the field and dished out 21 assists.
  • Player of the Game: “Fire and Ice”…that’s how Jaylen Brown described his and Jayson Tatum‘s respective games.  Brown brings the fire: all passion, dunks and flashy moves while Tatum brings the ice: smooth moves, crisp jumpers and a cool demeanor.  Brown took over in the 1st quarter and Tatum came out hot in the second.  Once the second half started though, they put it all together.  Their synchronicity perfectly summed up in two plays.  Tatum calmly dribbled down the court with Brown trailing hard behind him.  Tatum dropped a smooth pass off to Brown who rose up and delivered a thunderous dunk to get the Garden up on their feet.  The next play down, it was Tatum’s turn as he rose up for a silky smooth 3 punctuated by him skipping down the court smiling as the Garden roared.  Fire and Ice is right.

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards

Game 22 vs. Cleveland; W, 110-88:

  • The Celtics cruised to their 10th straight win at home and remained undefeated to start the season in TD Garden.  Gordon Hayward made a surprisingly early return from his broken hand this game and looked terrific.  In 26 minutes he had 14 points, 4 assists and 5 rebounds. He also displayed the elite playmaking and decision-making that he was utilizing before he went down which was encouraging to see.  All the starters played well with Tatum dropping 19 points and 11 rebounds; Theis had 10 while going 4/4 from the field and Kemba Walker shut the door on a Cavs comeback with 3 straight threes in the 4th quarter finishing with 22 points and 7 assists.  The Celtics are also now 1-0 when Grant Williams makes a three pointer (1/26 on the season now)…
  • Player of the Game: Jaylen Brown looked like the best player on the floor tonight.  He did everything for the Celtics.  From checking guards on the perimeter to banging with Thompson and Love under the boards, Brown thrives as the lead defender when Smart is out.  His offensive game continues to grow before our eyes as well as he handled the ball and made the right play consistently.  Others had better stat lines than him tonight but nobody had quite the impact that Brown did.  He finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.

Game 23 @ Indiana; L, 117-122:

  • The Celtics entered the 4th quarter with a 94-84 lead.  Kemba was red-hot (see below), Tatum joined him in the third and the Celtics offense was rolling.  To start the 4th, the Pacers intensity was ratched up a notch and the Celtics made some critical mistakes.  The game was lost in those first few minutes of the 4th quarter which allowed Indiana back into the game.  The Pacers finished the Celtics off with a 38-23 4th quarter in which the Celtics lost their composure and just straight up got outplayed.  Obviously, this game was disappointing but there are a ton of silver linings to glean from a game like this.  For one, the offense was humming!  Gordon Hayward didn’t have a great game but Brown nearly notched a triple double (18pts, 8asts, 8rbs), Tatum had 16, Theis contributed 11pts and 6rbs while Brad Wanamaker added 12 off the bench.  Indiana is a playoff team and the Celtics were ahead most of this game only losing it in the 4th quarter.  Sure, it was tough to swallow but it was also a hard and necessary lesson learned.  The Celtics have to do a better job of closing out teams like the Pacers as that is the type of environment and mindset that will be required in the playoffs. The other bright spot…
  • Player of the Game: was Kemba Walker! Kemba started off scorching, scoring 15 points in the 1st quarter.  He finished the half in similar fashion and began the second half the same way.  He had a tough 4th quarter but that doesn’t take away from his domination early in this one.  Kemba finished with 44 points and 7 assists with only 2 turnovers.  It was one of his best games in Celtic green which is why it was such a bummer that it came in a loss.

Boston Celtics v Toronto Raptors

Game 24 vs. Philadelphia; L, 109-115:

  • This was a frustrating game for a number of reasons.  For one, Joel Embiid is a force of nature and when he decides to turn it on; he’s pretty hard to stop.  He finished with 38 points and 13 rebounds against the C’s.  For another, the defense wasn’t great in a game where it needed to be.  Multiple Sixers scored in double figures with guys like Mike Scott and Josh Richardson dominating Boston at times.  Lastly, the Celtics got hosed.  I normally wouldn’t blame the refereeing but the Richardson non-foul committed on Brown during an inbounds play effectively ended the game and left the C’s without any option to recover.  That being said, the Celtics played Philly tough and some good performances came out of it.  Kemba Walker shined once again and he probably should have forced his way to the ball more often in the 4th quarter.  He was the only consistent offense the Celtics had all game finishing with 29 pts and 8 asts.  Gordon Hayward also had a great game (19 pts/5asts/4rbds) and hit some huge shots at the end to keep it close.
  • Player of the Game: Without a doubt, this was Enes Kanter‘s best game as a Celtic.  The Celtics did not have any answers for Embiid but at one point, the least likely big man on Boston’s roster stepped up to the challenge on the defensive end.  Kanter played big and physical and forced Embiid into some tough post shots that took Philly out of their offense.  Obviously, Embiid’s prowess in the low post prevailed but Kanter showed a grit and determination on the defensive end that we hadn’t seen in his career thus far.  Besides the defense, he excelled in the low post tallying 20 points while shooting 10/13 from the field.  The season has been up and down for Kanter but this game proved why the Celtics signed him and why more minutes for the big man might be what Boston needs to contend with the bigger teams in the NBA.

Game 25 @ Dallas; W, 109-103:

  • The Celtics had 5 days off after their loss to Philly and somehow got less healthy with the extra time.  They flew to Dallas without Marcus Smart (eye infection), Vincent Poirier (broken finger) and Robert Williams (bone edema).  Gordon Hayward also sat out this game with foot soreness along with a sickness for Tatum (who ended up playing).  Regardless, this Celtics team manages to claw its way through every game.  A tight first half led to a huge 3rd quarter for the C’s to put them out in front with enough cushion to secure a win on the road.  Dallas made it interesting in the 4th but Kemba closed the door (see below) and the Celtics were also helped out in the rebounding department killing Dallas on the boards 65-47.  Numerous guys stepped up in this game but none were bigger than Tatum, Brown and Walker.  Tatum finished with 24 pts and 8 rbs while Brown tallied 26 pts and 9 rbs with each of them providing leadership on the floor and lock down defense in their 35+ minutes.
  • Player of the Game: Despite Tatum and Brown’s terrific games, they played sidekick to an elite performance from Kemba Walker.  Kemba finished with a game high 32 pts including going 5/10 from 3.  During the 1st quarter, Kemba led the Celtics back from a deficit by taking over and going on a 10 point run by himself.  He also turned it back on in the 4th and closed the door on a Dallas comeback.  Games like this where Boston is shorthanded and on the road are where a player of Kemba’s caliber becomes integral to team success.  He’s the type of player the Celtics can count on to carry the offensive load and provide veteran leadership no matter what building they are playing in.

Game 26 vs. Detroit; W, 114-93:

  • The Celtics raced out to a 60-48 lead in the first half and then built on it with a 31-21 third quarter. Despite Kemba Walker having an atrocious shooting night (0/6) he tallied 11 assists and found Celtics players all over the court.  Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were often the beneficiaries (see below) but the bench also contributed in a huge way.  Enes Kanter had 8 points and 18 rebounds (!!!) while Grant Williams had his best game as a Celtic with 18 points on 8/10 shooting in 30 minutes.  I almost gave Williams player of the game honors for that stat line alone.  We also got a little Tacko time which is always a welcome sight.
  • Player of the Game: This was yet another fire and ice game from Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.  Both finished with 26 points and both players terrorized the Pistons all over the court.  When these two are playing like this, the Celtics are very hard to stop.  The talent on display was staggering as Detroit didn’t have an answer for either player.  Offensively, they got the job done but their defensive effort was arguably more impressive.  Tatum had 2 steals while Brown had 3 and added a block for good measure as the two long-armed dynamos flew all over the court.

Game 27 vs. Charlotte; W, 119-93:

  • The Hornets jumped on the Celtics early scoring 37 points in the first frame hitting threes from everywhere and generally outplaying the Celtics on both ends of the court.  It was disconcerting to say the least but then the C’s turned it on.  The Hornets wouldn’t score more than 21 points over the next three quarters as the Celtics clamped down defensively and relied on Kemba and Tatum (see below) for offense.  Kemba finished with 23 points and 4 assists, Brown had 16 pts, 5 asts and 9 rbs and Kanter supplied yet another big rebounding game off the bench with 8 pts and 13 boards.  Tonight also saw extended minutes for Romeo Langford who has proven he deserves consideration for bigger minutes up with the main club.  He supplied great defense and also tallied 8 points going 2/3 from the three.
  • Player of the Game: Jayson fucking Tatum. Tatum was dominant on both ends of the floor this game and showed the superstar potential that us Celtics fans have known is coming since he first stepped into the league.  He outscored the Hornets all by himself in the 4th quarter tallying 21 points to their 16.  He finished with a career high 39 points while shooting 15/29 from the field and 4/9 on threes.  From the start of the game, his offensive skills were on display as he used a myriad of moves to get to his spots and convert bucket after bucket.  In addition to the dominant offensive performance he also tallied 3 blocks with a steal showing his progression on that end as well.  Tatum was the best player on the floor all night.

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

Game 28 @ Toronto; W, 118-102:

  • Kyle Lowry started this game off with a 10-0 run all by himself.  The Celtics have been historically bad playing in Toronto for the last 4/5 years and it looked like that trend would continue.  Stevens called a timeout after the early Toronto run and the Raptors only scored 9 more points total for the remainder of what proved to be a decisive first quarter.  The Celtics finished the game shooting 50% from the field and hit 14/33 threes.  They controlled the boards (55-39) thanks in large part to Enes Kanter (11 rebounds, 18 minutes); and they moved the ball well en route to 26 assists.  Gordon Hayward made his return to the court after his foot soreness and finished with an efficient 14 pts, 6 assists and 5 rebound night while Kemba Walker turned in another stellar performance (22 pts, 4 asts) that Boston fans have come to expect.  Tatum had a ho-hum game statistically but he had a couple highlights that will be hard for Toronto to forget while filling up the stat sheet despite his poor shooting performance (6 asts, 9 rbs, 2 stls).
  • Player of the Game: This game had Jaylen Brown‘s fingerprints all over it.  Brown shot 10/13 from the field and 5/7 from 3 en route to 30 points, 4 assists and 6 rebounds.  Brown consistently made the right play while playing within the Boston system and it payed off for him in a big way tonight.  He hit mid range jumpers, showcased his much improved handle and made the right reads on pick and rolls every time.  What was most impressive though was his 5/7 showing from 3 point land.  Jaylen has been maligned for his shooting in recent years but it seems like he has taken the leap into not only being a serviceable shooter but a consistent one.  Simply put, when Brown is making shots like the ones he took tonight, the Celtics are a very hard team to stop on offense.

Game 29 vs. Cleveland; W, 129-117:

  • This win makes 5 straight for the Celtics who bounced back from the loss to Philly a couple weeks ago in spectacular fashion.  The Cavaliers continue to hang around in games mostly because of their big man duo of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson.  Love had 30 and 7 tonight but the Celtics were able to weather the big game with big nights from their wing duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown (see below).  Enes Kanter continues to play well and earn himself more minutes (14 pts, 9 rbs); Hayward and Walker didn’t shoot well but they did a great job of remaining in the game and contributing in other ways (Hayward had 8 asts).  Much has been said about the Celtics need to make a move for a big man but the combination of Kanter and Theis has been good if not spectacular.  Theis fits in the starting lineup perfectly as a pick and pop big with some rim protection and Kanter fits coming off the bench with his physicality and ability to grab offensive boards.  Once big Robert Williams comes back, the Celtics will have yet another option at center to play with as well.
  • Player of the Game: This was another fire and ice game for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.  Tatum had 24 of his 30 points in the first half while Brown finished the job in the second tallying a career high 34 points.  This duo continues to cause fits for opposing teams all over the court.  Both are playing with extreme confidence which has unlocked another gear for the C’s as they round back into form after a couple injuries to Hayward and Smart.  As the season continues, it’s imperative that these two play with the urgency and aggressiveness they have shown these last few weeks.  Eventually, Hayward will be back to full health but I think at this point it will be on him to fit in seamlessly behind the fire and ice duo as they continue to emerge as legitimate all-stars.

Game 30 vs. Toronto; L, 97-113:

  • Welp, Toronto came into Boston and put the smackdown on the Celtics right from the tip.  The Raptors were obviously still thinking about that Christmas day loss to the C’s and they came into Boston looking to avenge it.  Lowry went off for 30 points and 7 assists and Serge Ibaka played well (20 points, 10 rebounds).  This was a shitty game to watch to be perfectly honest as the Celtics let the refs and a lack of effort get in their way.  Despite the letdown, this game never got out of hand when it easily could have.  This Celtics team continues to fight and that’s an encouraging sign as the season goes on.
  • Player of the Game: Nobody really had a great game but Kemba Walker showed his usual grit all game long and almost brought the C’s back all by himself.  Walker finished with 30 points while shooting 47% from the field.  He remained aggressive throughout and his fight almost willed the C’s to victory in a tough game all the way around.

Game 31 @ Charlotte; W, 109-92:

  • Nice bounce back win for the C’s but let’s not get carried away.  Beating the Hornets in Charlotte is nice but the Celtics needed a nice blow out win after the stinker against Toronto.  The Celtics got 20+ points from Walker, Tatum and Hayward and Enes Kanter had a huge game with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 6 blocks (!!!!).  Kanter aka The Human Stop Sign showed a defensive versatility that we had not seen but hope to see more of.  Kanter has played fantastic during the month of December for Boston and I look for him to continue that play into the new year.  Despite Brown missing the game due to illness, Marcus Smart started in his place as he continued to get back into playing form with 7 pts, 7asts and 5 rbs.
  • Player of the Game: This was a game Gordon Hayward needed.  He didn’t play well against Toronto but (along with Smart), he is still rounding into playing form after their respective ailments.  Tonight’s game was a step in that direction.  He looked like the Hayward from the first 11 games of the season tallying 21 points, 6 assists and 10 rebounds.  An aggressive, offensive minded Hayward is exactly what the C’s need to vault themselves into the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference.  The season is nearing its midway point and getting all our players back and healthy is of the utmost importance.

getty-images-1188140281

Game 32 vs. Atlanta; W, 109-106:

  • The 7-27 Atlanta Hawks hit the Celtics in the mouth in the first quarter. 32-19 was the score and the Celtics looked listless and uninterested.  Without Kemba Walker, the Celtics needed to dig deep on the defensive end and lean on their supporting cast, and it resulted in a terrific comeback and a gritty win.  Those supporting players included Enes Kanter (14pts, 11rbs), Marcus Smart (15pts, 9asts, 6rbs) and Daniel Theis (14pts, 6rbs, 2blks).  Despite a rough shooting night from Tatum, the Celtics defense and Jaylen Brown’s heroics (see below) brought the Celtics home crowd to their feet.  The finals seconds included a HUGE 3 from Marcus Smart (1/4 at that point) and a gamesaving block from Daniel Theis while he was isolated out on the perimeter with a red hot Trae Young (28 points, 10 assists).
  • Player of the Game: Consistency is key and Jaylen Brown is proving night in and night out that he is a big time player.  Brown does it on the both ends of the court and tonight he was dominant.  He provided lock down defense while also leading the C’s on the offensive end with 24 points (on 8/13 shooting) and adding 10 boards to his tally.  Besides his statistical dominance, Brown also brought the energy necessary to get the C’s over the hump and complete the comeback.

Game 33 @ Chicago; W, 111-104:

  • On a night when the Patriots dynasty may have ended,  the Celtics saved Boston fans by continuing their strong play in the new year with their second straight win.  The Bulls battled in the first half and had the Celtics looking flustered but a big third quarter (30-21) and some huge shots by Jayson Tatum (see below) helped the C’s put down the feisty Bulls. Boston was without Kemba Walker again (flu) but the trio of Brown, Tatum and Hayward played well enough to offset his absence.  Brown had 19 with 7 boards while Hayward tallied 24 points on 9/14 shooting.  It seems silly to keep pointing out Enes Kanter’s stellar play because he has made it seem so commonplace as he finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds.  It was discouraging to see the Celtics play down to a 13-23 team but the fact that they dug deep and managed to pull through without Kemba was an encouraging sign.
  • Player of the Game: Last game, Jayson Tatum shot 2/16.  He’s had a few games like that this year but despite a poor shooting effort, Tatum is confident in his game.  His confidence and hard work is rewarded with games like tonight.  In the 4th quarter, Tatum put the team on his back and hit a variety of tough shots from all over the floor.  He finished with 28 points and 7 rebounds while shooting a scorching 12/15 from the field.  Tatum has averaged 21.3 ppg for the season so far and he’s showing every game, week and month that his ceiling is nearly limitless.

Game 34 @ Washington; L, 94-99:

  • Following back to back lackluster performances in Chicago and Atlanta, the Celtics luck finally ran out.  Facing the Wizards minus Bradley Beal, the C’s dropped a tough one to the scrappy Wizards.  The Celtics fought all game as they had the previous two but in this one they just couldn’t get over the hump.  Turnovers and sloppy play destroyed all semblance of having a nice offensive night but despite that, the Celtics defense almost turned it around.  The silver lining was holding Washington under 100 and knocking them off their usually torrid pace.  Boston’s defense really picked up in the second half but a horrible first half is what really sunk them.  We miss Kemba Walker and his leadership. We can only hope he will be make his return next game.
  • Player of the Game: The third quarter is when the Celtics really started to look like themselves and get back in the game.  Of course, the person leading that charge was Jayson Tatum.  It seems like every time the C’s are having a tough game offensively, Tatum is the one to come in and try to bail them out.  He hit tough shots throughout the quarter and finished with 17 points on the night.  Obviously it wasn’t enough but quarters like that show why Tatum’s ceiling is so high.

Overall Record Through 34 Games: 25-9, 2nd in the East

Record over last 19 games: 14-5

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks

Some Random Thoughts:

  • Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis have played great.  As trade rumors continue to mount over the next month, I’m really hoping the Celtics stand pat.  This team’s strength is in its wings and guards.  The bigs simply needs to play well, big and solid.  Kanter has really come on this last month and Theis continues to prove that he’s a quality NBA big man.
  • The Jayson Tatum vs. Jaylen Brown all-star narrative is tired. I’ve been seeing a ton of pieces picking one player over the other to make the all-star team.  I understand that it will be hard for the Celtics to get three players into the game but I also feel like it doesn’t matter one bit.  Sure, Tatum and Brown are both deserving but to put one over the other isn’t fair to either of the season’s the two players are putting together.  Ultimately, the championship is all the Celtics should be thinking about.  Any personal accolades are just icing on the cake.
  • Health! The Celtics have been plagued with health issues all year.  From Hayward breaking his hand, Smart’s eye infection and Kemba coming down with the flu, it seems like the Hospital Celtics can never get whole.  Once Kemba comes back from his bout with the flu, I’m hoping luck will turn the Celtics way for the rest of the season.  The core of Walker, Brown, Tatum, Hayward and Smart need minutes to gel and get in sync before the playoffs start.  Our record has put the C’s in a good position going forward.  Now Boston just needs to tighten the screws and work on getting better everyday as the games start to mean more and more late in the season.

MVP of the Second Fifth: Jaylen Brown

Boston Celtics v Denver Nuggets

  • On December 4, 2019 the Celtics faced off against the Miami Heat.  As you read above, I wrote “His growth the last couple of games has been tremendous.  I won’t say he’s making a “leap” per se but the improvement in his offensive game is noticeable and encouraging. I’d love to see Brown continue this level of play throughout the rest of the season.” After that writing, Brown went on to win Eastern Conference player of the week (in which he averaged 27ppg, 6.7rpg, 62% shooting from the field) and has been one of the Celtics most consistent players on both sides of the ball.  The confidence with which Brown is playing is through the roof and you can tell he isn’t close to being satisfied.  Only 4 players in the NBA are averaging 20+ points, 50+ fg% and 7+ rebounds (Anthony Davis, Giannis and KAT) and Jaylen Brown is in that group.  Before the season, NBA twitter was clowning the Celtics for the deal Danny Ainge signed Brown to but now it seems like that may have been a bargain. I’m still hesitant to say Brown has made the leap but if he continues this level of play, the Celtics are going to be a very tough team to stop.

Atlanta Hawks v Boston Celtics

 

 

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