1. If you were told that the Boston Celtics played a game and Kemba Walker scored only two points (both on free throws) and missed all six of his field goal attempts, you’d be excused for assuming it didn’t go well for the guys in the green. Instead, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum handled the scoring-load, with a nice assist from Grant Williams, and all 11 active players scored at least two points. It has to be reaffirming for Walker’s decision to sign with Boston over the summer that he can have a really off-night scoring-wise and his team can still roll to a blowout win.
2. Jayson Tatum handled the early scoring, as he put up 13 of his 26 points in the opening period. As per usual, it was a mix of jumpers and drives for Tatum. One of his better shots was this on-balance floater. It was a nice change from the wild floaters he’s been flinging at the rim lately:
The very next possession, he showed some of that same patience that has served Jaylen Brown so well. Tatum drives, stops and elevates over the less-athletic Markieff Morris for the layup:
3. Speaking of Jaylen Brown, he did a pretty good Reggie Miller impersonation at the end of the first half. Brown 10 points over the final 1:32 of the second quarter. That included this stretch, which proves it pays to blow kisses to the fans:
Then to close the half, Brown had a 4-point play. This was maybe the defining minute and a half of Brown’s career to date:
4. Romeo Langford got a chance to show what he can do and he scored six points in just under 18 minutes. That included the first basket of his NBA career on this nice drive to the bucket over Andre Drummond:
5. Overall, the Boston bench was wildly productive. The reserves scored 49 points and grabbed 30 rebounds. The rebounding was keyed by Enes Kanter snagging 18 boards in 21 minutes. Having the bench not only hold the lead, but add to it, is a good sign for the future when the Celtics eventually get healthy. We hope!
6. Brad Wanamaker continued his solid play, including finding Javonte Green, who was very good himself, here on the break. Green can really get up and it would be fun to see him get a chance at the Dunk Contest over All-Star Weekend.
7. The above play started as did a lot of possessions for the Celtics: by virtue of a Pistons turnover. Detroit coughed the ball up 25 times for the game. Boston had 13 steals and blocked nine shots on the night, including four from Daniel Theis, who continues to be quietly effective as the Celtics starting center.
8. Ok…we delayed it long enough. It’s time to talk about Grant Williams! As much as Tatum and Brown did the big scoring, it was Williams’ night. He scored 18 points off the bench and got them in a variety of ways. Williams started the night by hitting his first three-pointer (more on that in a minute), which seemed to spark his confidence. He then pulled off this rip-through and drive move for a layup:
Later in the game, he flashed a pull-up, one-hander out of pick-and-roll:
Then Williams drilled a catch-and-shoot triple in transition:
Lastly, Williams raised the roof after this tip-dunk on the follow:
It was a second straight good offensive game for Williams, who is really starting to show his skill on that end of the floor.
9. Boston’s passing was on point all night, as the Celtics had 24 assists on 45 baskets, led by Kemba Walker’s 11 helpers. The best assist of the night came on Grant Williams’ first basket of the night and it came from Jayson Tatum. Tatum takes the hand-off, dribbles once and fires the hook pass to the corner for Williams to get the three-pointer. This is a pass Tatum couldn’t or wouldn’t make in his first couple of seasons. Now? He does things like this on a fairly regular basis:
10. Let’s finish the Takeaways, the way Boston finished the game: Tacko time! Brad Stevens had some fun with the crowd as they chanted “We want Tacko!”:
This is the best thing you will see all day. I promise. pic.twitter.com/leNL2oiaIc— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) December 21, 2019
Tacko Fall himself had some fun, as he regularly stood up during the chants to tease the crowd. And when Fall eventually did get in the game, he delivered. This dunk might seem simple enough. Fall catches on the roll and dunks it. But this is the exact sort of play Fall struggled with throughout his time in college. Fall would regularly fumble passes like this and allow the defense to recover or cause a turnover. On this play, Wanamaker has to fire the ball, Fall catches cleanly and stuffs it through:
Next step for Fall? Some real minutes to prove he’s more than just a fun sideshow. The potential is there and Fall is improving rapidly over the course of his first few months as a pro. It’d be nice to see him get some minutes against a frontline center to see what he can do.