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The Read & React: boys to men

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After crushing the Knicks, Brad Stevens talked about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and said, “They’re young guys, but right now in our situation, we just need them to be guys...but they’re pretty good.” Yes. Yes, they are.

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Rozier and the art of chipping (Andrew Doxy): Terry Rozier has been excellent with getting his hands in the paint on defense. He hasn’t always gotten the steal, but he’s slowed down guys like Porzingis and Kanter when they get paint touches with his quick hands. It’s made a difference in helping Baynes, Horford, and Theis defend at the rim.

Mister Fantastic (Mike DePrisco): Tatum’s length has been a huge advantage for him in grabbing rebounds, getting in the passing lanes, and finishing at the rim. It seems like Tatum knows how to use that length effectively, but I’m very intrigued to see him advance his craftiness to combine with the physical gifts. In this game Tatum looked extremely comfortable, and his starting spot seems to be secured for the foreseeable future.

NBA: New York Knicks at Boston Celtics Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Is defensive rebounding an issue (again)? (Simon Pollock): There were plenty of bright storylines from tonight's win, but at least one Celtics stat should have fans queasy. In spite of the huge margin of victory, New York's Enes Kanter cleaned up on the glass. The Knicks newcomer pulled down 19 boards (9 OREB, 10 DREB) against the C's. Baynes and Theis are just starting to show their value for the frontcourt, but both are going to have to fight for better positioning to get boards against much better teams.

Big man defense (Matt Chin): The bigs bottled up Kristaps Porzingis tonight. Boston's swarming help defenders mightily bothered him, and it led to contested attempts and kick out passes. He finished with 12 points on 3 of 14 shooting. This comes days after Joel Embiid couldn't crack the Celtic defense. The lack of conventional big man depth was a major concern before the season, but it hasn't noticeably burdened them on defense thus far.

Growing confidence (Bill Sy): In a season preview on NBATV, Mike Fratello hinted that in talking with the Boston brass, they were hopeful that Jayson Tatum might grow 2-3 more inches. That would make the 19-year-old around 6’10-11. Right now, filling out his body isn’t an issue; Growing his confidence is and last night, he showed what he could do with a more aggressive mentality could do to weaponize his game. Tatum finished with 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting, most notably 4-for-6 from behind the arc.

On two separate occasions after the game, his teammates and coach mentioned Tatum becoming more comfortable with his shot. Jaylen Brown subtly mentioned that he and Tatum are effective because they “complement each other very well, he can shoot the ball when he doesn’t hesitate...” In Stevens’ presser, he also mentioned the need for JT to shoot when he’s open:

Check out Tatum’s highlights against New York:

The Celtics’ pace and space offense gets him a variety of looks with spot ups, post ups, and catch-and-shoots. Tatum never hesitated.