These weren't your father's Grizzlies. Without Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph, and Mike Conley (and later in the game, an injured Mario Chalmers), Memphis came into the Garden looking a little different but with the same edge. Instead of pounding you inside, they ran a bunch of 6'6"-6'9" guys of fairly similar skills in waves at you. They hit you on the offensive glass and grind you out on defense. That style made Isaiah Thomas cough up his first turnover in 100 minutes and stunted a Celtics' offense early that hadn't been on the floor since Saturday's frustrating loss in Cleveland.
But after halftime, the Celtics just did what they do. They picked up the pace on a Memphis team that would finish the game with only eight healthy bodies. They forced 19 turnovers and scored 19 fast-break points.
A Sully steal leads to an IT stop-and-pop. C's are rolling to start the third quarter: pic.twitter.com/pPrG762pNb— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 10, 2016
You know what they say about defense leading to offense... pic.twitter.com/rwqkn3iRoR— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 10, 2016
Isaiah Thomas finished the game with a team-high 22 points. Evan Turner chipped in an efficient 16-8-4 stat line with six other Celtics scoring at least 9 points each. This was just another one of those games where you had everybody doing what they do well. Jonas Jerebko was 3-for-4 from behind the arc. Jared Sullinger bullied smaller defenders in the paint for 12 and 5. Marcus Smart and Tyler Zeller were a +17 and +18 respectively picking and choosing their spots. It's unfair to not discount how banged up Memphis was, but Boston just doesn't quit when you consider their deep and versatile bench. At some point, something is going to click with somebody and tonight, it was everybody.
The game marked the team's 14th straight home win, matching a streak set by Bird, McHale, and Parish back in 1991. It's a great start as the team faces a slew of playoff contenders. They welcome the Rockets on Friday and travel to Indianapolis on Tuesday.