1. This game played out an awful lot like the game in Sacramento a week or so ago. Boston got off to a slow start offensively. Buddy Hield went off. Marcus Smart had the ball in hands a lot late. This time around, Smart came through with a couple of clutch baskets late in the game and Boston sent everyone home happy. For a shorthanded squad, it was a big, necessary win.
This win was also big because the main contributors were all players drafted and developed by the Celtics. Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Robert Williams and Tremont Waters all had fingerprints all over this game. Bad night for the “Danny Ainge can’t draft!” crowd.
2. Jayson Tatum’s jumper wasn’t falling, but he made some plays at the basket. This finish through contact is the type of play everyone wants to see more of from Tatum:
3. With Kemba Walker (neck sprain) and Daniel Theis (illness) both out, Brad Stevens turned to Enes Kanter and Semi Ojeleye in the starting five. Kanter was solid with 13 points, nine rebounds and surprisingly good defense. Ojeleye also contributed with seven points. This play was a nice example of Ojeleye not settling for a rushed, contested three-pointer and driving the closeout for the layup instead:
4. One thing you worry about when front-line players are out is the ball movement on offense. Walker and Gordon Hayward have been two of the better distributors for Boston this year, but the team is now full of good passers. For the game, the Celtics had 20 assists on 38 baskets. Plays like this one showed just how good Boston is when the ball moves. The ball hits the paint twice and Smart passes up a good shot for a great one:
5. Smart was a great defender from day one. His shooting gets all the love for how much it has improved. But he’s also really become a fantastic playmaker at the point guard spot. Smart had two highlight passes to Tatum during the game. First, he tossed up the no-look alley-oop:
Then this play shows how Smart is aware of where everyone is on the court, as he finds Tatum on the run-out:
6. With Walker and Hayward out, the Celtics have leaned on Brad Wanamaker. Apparently, they leaned on him too much, as Wanamaker was 0-for-8 from the floor and a -22 for the game. He had been so good, that he was due for a clunker. But…Tremont Waters to the rescue!
Boston called Waters up from the Maine Red Claws and he delivered in his NBA debut. Waters scored seven points and dished out three assists and was a +20 in just under 20 minutes. His hustle plays gave the Celtics the lift they needed to get back in the game after falling behind by 11 in the first half. Waters just feels like a Stevens-type of backup guard.
7. Sometimes basketball can be a really simple game. Jaylen Brown said: “The coaching staff told me in the second quarter that they needed me to be more aggressive so I became more aggressive.” And did he ever. Brown realized after the break that the Kings didn’t have a defender who could stay with him off the dribble. He went to the rim over and over on his way to 24 points. This clip shows how Brown has realized he can alter his pace and be patient versus always trying to go over or through people:
8. Just like in Sacramento, the Celtics kept losing Buddy Hield. And boy did it cost them. Hield knocked in 11 three-pointers, many of them were open looks. Boston’s defense is usually very dialed in, especially with their off-ball switches, but against the Kings they were off their game. It could be a case of too many guys are injured, with three starters down, but it’s worth watching.
9. When the Celtics are at their best, it can be really hard to make anything happen on the perimeter against their defense. Before this clip started, Tatum was all over Buddy Hield and forced him to give the ball up about 35 feet from the basket. Then Smart does his thing against Bogdan Bogdanovic to force the shot clock violation:
10. Robert Williams III gets his share of grief in this space for things he doesn’t do well. Let’s call that balance for the sometimes rampant over-exuberance for the Timelord. That said…let’s get crazy, because he made some huge plays in this game!
First, Williams is switched on to Bogdanovic and blocks his three-point attempt late in the third quarter:
Then, with the game in the balance, Williams finds himself again switched on to Bogdanovic. Williams keeps his feet and doesn’t try and block the shot. He stays under control and gives a terrific contest from almost the same spot on the floor as the block in the first clip:
Those are plays to get all crazy over!