Last night the Celtics found themselves in another dogfight with the Grizzles, but unlike last week, the Celtics didn’t need any extra time to down a short-handed Grizzles team. Here’s what we saw from last nights big win.
Out-grinding the Grizzlies (Jeff Nooney)
The Boston Celtics outrebounded the Memphis Grizzlies 47-37, which still feels weird to type. A huge part of this came from Amir Johnson. He notched a season high 10 boards, including 4 on the offensive end. He was an unsung hero of the game for the work he did. The rebounds are obvious, but the SportVU boxscore data shows a little more. He led the Celtics with 4 deflections on defense. That was the 2nd highest in the game, behind only the Grindfather himself, Tony Allen.
The effort extended beyond just Amir Johnson though. Even Gerald Green was crashing the glass and fighting for rebounds. He ended up with 3 offensive rebounds, the most for him in over two years. Marcus Smart came away with two clutch steals late in the fourth, which includes the one where he literally ripped the ball away from Marc Gasol. Boston was a little sloppy with turnovers on the night, but hustle plays like these can cover up a lot of problems.
Marcus Smart the Conductor (Alex Kungu)
Celtics went into halftime up 8, but by the time Marcus Smart checked in for the first time in the half their lead had been grinded to an uncomfortable 69-67 edge with 5:09 remaining in the third. If Stevens giving Smart the keys while the offense wasn’t proof of the evolution of his guard, his play certainly was. On his first offensive possession Smart immediately did this:
Match him up on Marc Gasol? No problem:
And it won’t show up on the stat sheet as anything, but look what he does to free up Avery Bradley here:
By the end of the quarter the Celtics pushed up the lead to 84-77, and Smart was responsible for creating 11 of the teams 15 points during that stretch. Sure it’s not the same as Steph Curry or Jimmy Butler going on a personal 15 point run, but the ball moved, points were scored, and Smart was the main conductor.