1. We all know that Kobe Bryant devoted one of his Details segments for ESPN to Jayson Tatum’s game and that Tatum was flattered by it. This summer Tatum worked out with Bryant. While Kobe is one of the best players of all-time, his influence on Tatum is showing up in one not-so-great way: long two-pointers. Tatum has all sorts of talent and a diverse offensive game. As a rookie, he had success sticking to going to the hoop and shooting three-pointers. The occasional long-two mixed in is fine. Falling in love with them is not.
2. The Celtics defense is built around versatility and the ability to switch everything. With three very similarly-sized wings in Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward, this works against most team. But when Boston finds themselves playing a team like the Pistons, who play two traditional bigs in Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, it can make things a little tricky on the Celtics. That means one of the aforementioned trio has to defend Griffin. In general, Boston handles this just fine, but one thing that did pop up in this game was defensive three seconds calls. Twice Boston got caught in no-man’s land between helping and not helping the mismatched wing on Griffin. Just something to keep an eye on.
3. After Kyrie Irving went out last year, the Celtics manufactured offense as a team. It became an attack where you never knew who would lead the team in scoring each night. But what Boston missed without Irving was someone who they knew could get them a bucket when they really needed one. Irving can do that, and no one is better at doing Kyrie-stuff than Kyrie:
4. Aron Baynes was back and immediately made a huge difference for Boston. Baynes scored nine points, grabbed five rebounds and made life generally miserable for Drummond around the paint. If Boston is going to go as far as they hope to, Baynes will be a big part of that journey.
5. Kyrie Irving is never going to be a great defender, something that sticks out even more on the Celtics because of Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier’s doggedness on that end of the floor. But Irving isn’t a net negative when he plays like he did tonight. He was active and picked up several deflections. He also did a nice job digging down on the Pistons bigs and jumping passing lanes. Irving doesn’t have to be great on defense, he just has to be active and to give an honest effort.
6. Jaylen Brown seems to be finding himself on offense. A big part of that is being smartly aggressive. This type of drive to the bucket for Brown looks a lot like the developing young player we all loved last year:
7. Speaking of aggressive, Al Horford is anything but “Average Al”. All intelligent basketball and Celtics fans understand this. But when he’s “Aggressive Al”, like in the clip below, it lifts Boston to their best basketball.
8. Back to Kyrie for a second...He’s so good when he just wants to bury an opponent. Celtics Twitter has started calling shots like these something that isn’t very family-friendly. We’ll just say Kyrie is awesome when he has it going like this:
9. Was this Guerschon Yabusele’s last gasp audition to convince Danny Ainge to pick up his 2019-20 rookie team option? If so, Yabusele did a commendable job. He only played about three minutes, but he was extremely active and did a nice job. We’ll know for sure on Halloween if Yabusele is part of the long-term plans in Boston.
10. Hayward is gotten more and more comfortable as the season as gone along. One place Brad Stevens is using him more over the last few games is as a playmaker. This is a role that really suits Hayward, and it allows Irving to play off the ball some. There just aren’t a lot of wings who can handle the ball in pick and roll and find the bigs like this: