1. With Kyrie Irving on the shelf again, the Celtics turned to their young guys and some balanced scoring to beat the Hornets. Jaylen Brown scored 24 points in 29 minutes off the bench. Jayson Tatum dropped in 20 points in just 27 minutes. And Terry Rozier again filled in with a nice performance as a starter with 17 points and 10 assists. Overall, six Celtics scored in double-figures and all 12 players who played had at least one basket.
2. On occasion, Tatum still has struggles finishing at the rim. Often, it seems like he puts too much English on the ball and it rolls off. He missed an easy layup about midway through the first quarter against the Hornets. On the very next possession, Tatum made sure he didn’t miss at the rim again:
3. That dunk was part of a great first quarter for Tatum. He carried the Celtics early, as he played the entire opening period (a rarity) and scored 13 of his 20 points. It was good to see him get going early. He likely would have scored more than 20 points, but with the blowout nature of the game in the second half, Tatum wasn’t called upon to do much after halftime.
4. Tatum’s running-mate Brown came into the game with his typical great energy as of late. First Brown forced the turnover, then he sprinted the floor and is rewarded by Rozier for the layup:
5. Gordon Hayward came back with a strong game. He scored 12 points and filled out the rest of the stat-sheet nicely as well. On this play, Hayward gets in the lane and puts an up-and-under move on the defender that would make Kevin McHale proud!
6. Boston’s ball movement was great all game long. They picked up 12 assists on 15 baskets in the first quarter and didn’t commit a single turnover. That theme continued throughout the game, as the Celtics handed out 34 helpers on 50 buckets.
7. We mentioned above that Jaylen Brown played a great game. He had the 24 points, but also grabbed 10 rebounds. He was terrific on defense as well. Brown struggled with a change in role and a hand injury early in the season. To put it simply: he was awful. But over the last month or so, Brown has arguably played the best basketball of his career. For Boston to be the team they hope to be, they need Brown to continue this strong play.
8. The Celtics pulled away in the second half, as they locked down on defense and kept up the pressure on offense. And they did it as a team. On this play, watch the ball pop around, before Tatum finishes with the nice corner three-pointer:
9. Rozier assisted Tatum on the above clip, but he also found him for one of the best plays of the year for the Celtics:
10. Let’s close with one more clip. This one likely got Tommy Heinsohn out of his chair with joy. A three-man, two-pass fastbreak? That’s Celtics basketball from back in the day and it’s a joy to watch.
It was a good night for Boston. They took care of business despite being without Irving and hammered a team that is in the mix for the playoffs. And they had some fun doing it too.
From the Garden...