If you’ve paid as much attention to how the Celtics have played on the floor vs. what they’ve said off it, you get a sense that they’ve stopped waiting to exhale after beating the Warriors. Tuesday’s win in Golden State showed just how powerful and multifaceted they can be.
“The reality is, Kyrie was an All-Star, but our strength is in our depth. Kyrie can do things that other guys can’t do. Those guys all bring certain strengths to the table, but if we’re not playing well, all nine of us, we’re not as good as we had hoped to be,” Brad Stevens said before the game. “That’s where we all have to be. We all have to be playing well and we hope to get there.”
It’s one game, but for one night, they were all playing well.
The Celtics dished out 38 assists on 51 made field goals. That’s the most all season. They attacked the rim, scoring 50 points in the paint, and hit 13 of their 34 threes for 41.2 3FG%. Over their last four games, they hadn’t hit over 30% from behind the arc.
After the game, Kyrie Irving said, “we put a lot of emphasis on being connected, being together. We just haven’t been doing it. We’ve been doing a lot of talking. Honestly, it was finally about time we put some action on it.”
It was one of those games where guys were getting the ball right in their sweet spots: Jaylen Brown cutting to the rim, Jayson Tatum taking advantage of mismatches on the perimeter, and Irving working all angles, finishing with 19 points and 11 assists.
It was a big team win, but the individual revelation of the evening was Gordon Hayward. Old G had 30 points and 4 assists and lead the team with 7 rebounds. In arguably his best game in green, Hayward was deferential and credited the team’s play.
“It was fun tonight. What’d we have tonight? Like 38 assists or something? I mean, that’s utilizing all of our weapons,” Hayward said. “I mentioned it earlier, but moving the ball, moving bodies, it’s hard for them to catch up to us. Then, you can really exploit different matchups. That was fun tonight.”
Heading out west has seemingly been a good chance for the team to air grievances and just play ball. Kyrie mentioned after the game that “that long plane ride helped us out.” Stevens echoed those sentiments. “You got a choice. You either come in and let your circumstances control your attitude or let your attitude control your circumstances. We were pretty good the last couple of days.”
On a night that featured five Celtics in double figures and two guys on the second unit combining for 48 points, Stevens downplayed just how much of a breakthrough this win was. “I just thought we played with purpose all the way through. We were very business-like the whole night, even at halftime, just now after the game. We know we haven’t played like that enough, but it’s encouraging as a reminder that we can.”