1. This game encapsulated the Celtics season almost perfectly. A bunch of guys who hadn’t really played much together took the floor to start the game. It was exciting and fun, but produced some really rough basketball. Then some guys started to figure things out. And then it took off and Boston captured an unlikely win.
Let’s not get too far afield here, but the first two things match the Celtics season as a whole. And now, let’s hope the team is ready to take off and win, much like Boston did last night.
2. Brad Stevens played this one about as perfectly as you can play a meaningless game to end the regular season. You can’t sit everyone who is in the rotation, as NBA rules don’t allow for it. But the Celtics did the best they could. Seven regulars were not only inactive, but were not even in the building. The only regular rotation players, as of late, to play were Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown. And they both made relative cameo appearances. Rozier played because someone has to, and he was one of only two lead guards available. Brown played because he was knocking the rust off after being out for several games due to back spasms. Brown wrapped up his night midway through the third quarter, and Rozier left the game shortly thereafter. Both played fine and came out of the game with no ill-effects.
3. After the two rotation mainstays left the game, the fun started. Two-Way players P.J. Dozier and R.J. Hunter came in and dominated for Boston. Dozier scored 12 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out five assists. Hunter hit for 17 points and put up three rebounds and three assists. For the game, Hunter was a +28, as Boston rallied from a 21-point deficit while he was in the game.
The Two-Way guys got lots of love from Stevens following the game. They are often unheralded players on the roster. They toil in the relative obscurity of the NBA G-League for the Maine Red Claws and behind closed doors in practices. To see both have a big night in an NBA game was special for them and rewarding for their work this season.
4. But...before you get too excited and think Dozier or Hunter can help in the playoffs, the downside is that Two-Way players are ineligible to play in the playoffs. This means the season is complete for both Dozier and Hunter.
5. On a night where he had an opportunity to play big minutes, Robert Williams looked like a rookie. He fouled out and looked lost at times, but made a bunch of plays too. He grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked three shots, showing his activity on defense. Williams only made one shot, but it was an encouraging one. You can see him turn and face the defender, before confidently going up for the mid-range jumper. This type of shot will be a point of emphasis for Williams this summer, as he adds to his game:
6. It was also nice to see Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele take advantage of extra minutes with 17 and 13 points respectively. It’s unclear what direction the Boston roster will go this summer, but there is a chance both players could be on the move. Or they could be in line for more minutes, if the Celtics make a trade that clears out a large chunk of the roster and they stay behind. Either way, you don’t get too excited about one game at the end of the season, but it’s better to see them play well than not.
7. It’s not from the game, but from the day as a whole: the injury report on Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart was encouraging. Tatum did some on-court work. Smart didn’t do any on-court work, but was said to be feeling better. Considering the importance of both players to the Celtics, this was a welcomed update.
8. After 82 of these takeaways columns, we aren’t done! We’ll continue throughout the playoffs with this format, however long the Celtics run lasts.
From the bottom of my heart: thanks for reading, commenting (on the site or on Twitter) and sharing. We do this for you all: the readers. Thanks for following along throughout a great, if confusing and maddening, regular season. Here’s to a long a playoff run that doesn’t end until June!