In his first ever NBA game in Boston, explosive Rookie of the Year front runner Ja Morant visited TD Garden at the helm of his 8th placed Western Conference team, the Memphis Grizzlies. The Celtics were back at home after crushing the Los Angeles Lakers Monday night. Jaylen Brown was listed as inactive with an ankle injury, meaning Marcus Smart was back in the starting lineup and immediately snatched an entry pass attempt from Dillon Brooks.
With Tommy and Mike making mention on more than one occasion of the cold temperatures inside the arena, it was the Celtics who were ice cold to start the game, shooting just 39% from the field as Memphis took an early lead 27-25 in the first quarter.
Enes Kanter (13 points, 8 rebs) and Semi Ojeleye (7 points) provided good minutes from the bench late in the first quarter and kept the scoreboard ticking as the starters rested. Semi was aggressive on this drive and took the ball straight into the jersey digits of Jaren Jackson Jr.
Boston have had real trouble stringing together consistent quarters this season as the sluggish Celtics spluttered through the early part of the 2nd quarter as they handed Memphis an open lane to allow the Griz to register a 6 point lead at one point. It took a stretch of long range hot shooting from the unlikely Daniel Theis to drag the Celtics back into the game, Theis would go 3-3 in the first half.
Following on from his stellar passing display against the Lakers Monday, Marcus Smart (12 pts, 6 rebs, 6 asts) was again out here dropping ridiculous dimes as Javonte Green (9 pts) was the recipient of this no look behind the head drop off. Smart got the crowd and his teammates into the game as he fed Jayson Tatum (23 pts, 7 rebs, 2 stls) numerous times. The Celtics also ratcheted up the defensive intensity and finished the half strong scoring 23-2 and ending with an 14-point lead, 58-44.
As the second half got underway Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward would not have a combined made field goal until the 8:22 mark of the third quarter. Boston’s depth and defensive pressure were the key to stretching the lead in this one.
Kemba Walker (8 pts) sprung to life hitting a pair of back-to-back triples including a transition heat check which got the crowd amped. However it was the play of Daniel Theis (14 points, 3 blocks, 4 rebs) that was outstanding and he capped the night with an emphatic put-back dunk over Jonas Valanciunas.
Gordon Hayward (12 pts) got involved late in the third reeling off a quick 10 points and an aggressive drive and dunk over an outstretched Jaren Jackson Jr. The Celtics received a scare to end the 3rd as Jayson Tatum headed to the locker with a right groin strain, however he would return to the bench to watch the remainder of the game.
The entire fourth quarter was garbage time as both teams cleared the bench. In a great team effort, 11 players scored and Brad Stevens managed to give everyone at least 10 minutes of playing time. Boston now moves to 29 wins on the season and next travel to Orlando to face the Magic on Friday.