As though things weren’t bad enough coming into tonight’s game with four straight stinkers, we learned that Marcus Smart has a mysterious laceration on his hand and that Horford is out for precautionary measures after suffering a late clonk to the head against the Lakers. But tonight’s theme was the Celtics’ moribund apparatus wriggling back to life, limb by limb:
- Semi Ojeleye, who’s every bucket this season could have triggered a free slice of pizza for all without bankrupting a pizza sponsor “went off” for 8 points, an encouraging sign for a young player whose confidence has to have taken a hit given his glacial shooting.
- Aron Baynes, who hasn’t been very much of a target in the pick and pop, dusted off that early season form and flashed better mittens (making him a more viable target for Kyrie tonight).
- Jayson Tatum, who admitted he’s played more games than he played during his entire season at Duke, and that he hasn’t been sleeping a lot with the arrival of his baby son (something I’d suspected) regained some of that ROY candidate razzle dazzle.
- Marcus Morris is showing signs of shrugging off that mysterious lingering soreness that had kept him out of back-to-backs until tonight, where he not only logged 27 min, but scored 15 points.
- And Kyrie Irving, seemingly overhearing Pierce’s comments in the studio, did an admirable job setting the pace and finding guys in a few key stretches, including early-ish in the 3rd quarter with some pre-tty connections with Jaylen Brown.
January has not been kind, but tonight was an encouraging win, especially given the recent Northeast winter bleakness. Don’t press that panic button just yet.