1. Kyrie Irving didn’t show up, but Kemba Walker sure did! Walker scored 39 points, including 22 in the second half when the Celtics took control of the game. Walker did it in all sorts of ways too. He hit threes off the dribble, which showcases how quickly he gets into his shot. He drove for baskets. He made plays off the off the ball. This was a game that showcased just how perfectly Walker fits the Boston offense.
We could pick any number of jumpers, but instead there were three other plays that caught the eye. On this first play, Waker rejects the screen, gets downhill, spins and then shields the ball from the shot-blocker at the rim:
This clip shows Walker’s effort on defense. He correctly reads the attempted skip pass and knocks the ball away. Then, a week after collapsing to the floor in Denver, Walker goes into the bench to save the ball for the steal:
Lastly, Walker again drives the ball against Jarrett Allen. This time he uses his speed and comes under the rim to protect the ball to draw the And-1:
2. Brad Stevens seems to be settling into a fairly consistent rotation. Jayson Tatum is often in the first group of subs. He then comes back towards the end of the first quarter or to start the second quarter. This allows Tatum to be the focal point of the offense alongside mostly reserves. Here’s a guess that when Gordon Hayward returns, one of Hayward, Walker and Jaylen Brown joins Tatum in that early sub pattern, giving Stevens two of his best four offensive players on the floor at all times.
3. Marcus Smart might call himself a “stretch 6”, and he’s earned the right to make up his own position, but he’s really becoming one heck of a pure point guard. On a recent podcast appearance, Smart talked about his admiration of Gary Payton. When he makes plays like these as a passer, he does look a lot like Payton. This one is him working the two-man game to find Daniel Theis for a layup:
Here, Smart has his head up and sees Enes Kanter has the smaller defender pinned and drops the dime from halfcourt:
4. The new uniforms aren’t as bad as they looked online, but they are still ugh. Boston should never wear anything but the classic green or white uniforms. If you want to mix in gold accents or the black base once and a while, fine. These look like they came from the Middle Earth collection with that font. They also remind you of when a sports bar fails and re-brands itself as an Irish pub with the name Sullivan’s or O’something’s.
5. The Celtics ball movement was good again. Two clips show how great they are when the ball is shared, because there aren’t many weak links in the offense. Let’s start with the fact that Spencer Dinwiddie definitely got fouled in this clip. But ignoring that, Smart makes the tip pass to Tatum, who doesn’t force the layup, but gives it up to Brown instead:
Then this one shows the value of the ball hitting the paint and then it moving quickly. Brown drives and kicks to Smart, who immediately sends it to Walker. Walker doesn’t rush the three, or settle for the long-two, he skips the ball back to Brown in the corner for the triple. Watch Brown after he passes initially. He doesn’t stay around the paint, he relocates to the corner to create space. Really pretty basketball here.
6. Speaking of Brown, it was another quietly good game from him, as he scored 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting. He’s hit the point where he makes several solid plays throughout the game versus just one or two spectacular plays. That said, Brown still breaks out new stuff, including this funky post move for the fall-away jumper:
7. The Celtics have been historically good at defending three-pointers, but it wasn’t their night against the Nets. Brooklyn got up 56 long-range attempts and made 21 from behind the arc. For stretches of the game, the Nets made no attempt to take anything but threes. Many were contested, but many more were open. That’s something Brad Stevens can show the team before their rematch in Brooklyn on Friday afternoon.
8. Against the Kings on Monday, Brad Wanamaker put up his first stinker of the season. He had a really good bounce-back against the Nets. He scored 13 points and continually made plays to help lift Boston’s second unit. Wanamaker has taken this opportunity to play while Hayward is out and has really run with it.
9. It was a tough shooting night for Jayson Tatum. He made just 5-of-17 shots and missed all four of his three-point attempts. But a sign of growth is making plays in other ways when the shot isn’t falling. Tatum grabbed nine rebounds and handed out five assists. His passing continues to catch the eye, like this no-look dime to Theis:
10. And Theis would return the favor late in the game, as Tatum put an exclamation point on the victory:
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!