1. The Celtics came out and pushed pace right from the jump. They got up 92 shots, while also taking 20 free throws. In addition, the team had 26 fastbreak points. When every player on the roster (minus the true centers like Aron Baynes and Daniel Theis) can rip and run, there is no reason Boston can’t get down the floor quickly before defenses get set. The Celtics currently sit at 22nd in the NBA in pace, but that number could, and should, continue to climb.
2. The ball movement was terrific Boston all night long. They piled up a season-high 32 assists on 49 made baskets. On this play the ball ping-pongs around until Jayson Tatum gets a wide-open three-pointer. This is the type of play that makes the Celtics very hard to guard:
3. Welcome back Jaylen Brown! Brown came off the bench for the first time this season and delivered easily his best performance of the year. His energy was apparent from the start, as he flew up and down the floor. Going against second unit players is a good way to lift Brown’s confidence. It also keeps the lineup balance Brad Stevens has found in recent weeks intact.
4. Boston did a really nice job finding and going at mismatches. On this play, Brown finds himself defended by Enes Kanter. Earlier this year, Brown goes too quickly and rushes an attempt. Or he holds the ball too long and settles for a jumper. In this clip he’s patient enough to wait for the traffic to clear the paint and then he attacks Kanter off the bounce:
5. Gordon Hayward continues to function as the primary ballhandler on the second unit. This frees up Terry Rozier, decidedly not a point guard, to play off the ball. It also gives Hayward, who is the team’s best passer, the chance to be involved as a playmaker. Everything flows a little better with him at the helm.
6. This play is a good example of Hayward’s playmaking ability, Boston pushing pace via rip and run, and Brown’s athleticism. Hayward grabs the board and gets up the floor quickly, Brown sprints out to fill the lane and Hayward finds him for the easy dunk. All the good stuff in one clip!
7. As mentioned above, Boston was focused on finding mismatches. In the second and third quarters that came in the form of Al Horford. The Celtics either forced the Knicks bigs to defend on the move, something they are woefully incapable of, or they forced a switch and went to Horford inside against smalls. Horford had a slow start to the season, but is coming around lately. It’s not a coincidence that his improved play has overlapped with Boston’s turnaround.
8. Tatum was utilized as a playmaker in in pick and roll a lot in this game. A lot more than he usually is. Regularly it was a two-man game between him and Horford. While Tatum’s lob-throwing needs some work (he banked one in for a basket early in the game), he’s come a long way as a passer. On this play, he shows good patience as the ballhandler and finds Horford for the layup and the foul:
9. One last thing on Horford: this was one of his better all-around performances. He scored 19 points on 8-of-12 shooting (almost all in and around the paint), grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked four shots. This was reminiscent of Horford’s excellent play on both ends last season.
10. Stevens wasn’t thrilled to have to bring the starters back in with around six minutes to go in the game, but he wasn’t about to let a lead slip away at home. That said, minutes were way down. Only Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris hit 30 for the game. Engineering some blowouts is a nice way to keep everyone engaged by keeping the playing time as equal as possible.