1. Let’s start off with congratulations to first-time All-Star Jayson Tatum! His big day coincided with his return to the court from a three-game absence due to a strained right groin. Tatum picked right up where he left off, as he scored 20 points. This marked the fourth straight game where Tatum has hit the 20-point plateau, which is the first time in his career he’s accomplished that feat. He scored on his typical mix of jumpers and layups, but two plays stood out. First, he made use of a Daniel Theis seal for the dunk:
In the second half, Tatum had the mismatch with the smaller D’Angelo Russell. He used good patience and when Russell overplayed his shooting hand, Tatum used his size and athleticism to step through for the layup:
It’s all coming together for Tatum now after a slow start to the season. His numbers have improved across the board with each month of the season and that’s what earned him his first All-Star selection.
2. Tell me if you’ve heard this one before: When the ball moves, the Celtics are pretty good! Novel concept right? Boston had 27 assists on 42 baskets, and five different Celtics had at least three assists. This play is exactly how Boston wants their offense to run. Tatum drives and kicks to Kemba Walker, who uses the second drive against a scrambled defense to open up Gordon Hayward for the three-pointer:
It’s really hard to defend the Celtics when all four of their main guys are making plays for each other.
3. Speaking of Hayward…turn your head and he’s off to the rim:
That basket was part of a game-high 25 points for Hayward. Like Tatum, it was Hayward’s fourth straight game of at least 20 points. That’s the first time Hayward’s Celtics career he’s made that happen. And don’t look now, but Hayward is just a tick off of 50/40/90 shooting splits in the month of January. Yeah, he’s back. And he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
4. With all four his main offensive players healthy, Brad Stevens is back to his double-duo approach. This one was a little wonky due to Tatum’s minutes restriction, but Stevens is making a point to keep at least two of Jaylen Brown, Hayward, Tatum and Walker on the court at almost all times. So far this season, it’s been Brown/Hayward and Tatum/Walker. The first two usually go almost the whole of the first quarter, then the second pair comes on to start the second period. That allows the Celtics to keep two scorers on the court and will hopefully keep them from long scoring-droughts.
5. This was one of those Marcus Smart games. He was involved and fired up almost from the start. He was back to his sixth man role with Jayson Tatum back, but that’s good for Boston. Smart’s energy is always at 11. That can give the Celtics a lift and did against the Warriors. In the span of about 20 seconds after entering the game, Smart hit Hayward with the pass above, and then grabbed a rebound and found Jaylen Brown on the run without the benefit of a single dribble:
Later in the first quarter, Smart made what has to be the first left-handed jump-hook of his career:
Next trip, he broke down the defense late in the clock and hit a pull-up in the paint:
Late in the third quarter, in front of the man himself, Smart pulled a Stephen Curry with the look-away three-pointer:
Lastly, you can add Draymond Green to list of bigs who have learned that posting up Smart isn’t a mismatch in their favor:
6. Smart’s Padawan Learner Grant Williams did some stuff once again. This turnaround fallaway was a new one:
This pass is positively Smart-like:
7. Then Smart and Williams put their Jedi powers together to force this turnover:
Boston might be small with those two on the floor together, but you’d never know it because of their grit and hustle.
8. Kemba Walker was a little quiet last night, which is just fine with him. Hayward, Tatum and Smart all hit for at least 20 points, while Jaylen Brown added 18. Brown likely would have been the team’s fourth 20-point scorer, but he fouled out with just over three minutes to play. As for Walker, he saved his best for the end of the first half to make sure Boston was up double-digits at the half:
Not having to do it all is different, and welcomed, for Walker at this point in his career. And he’s been there whenever the Celtics have needed him the most.
9. Semi Ojeleye capped off the nightfor Boston, and yet another strong game for himself off the bench, with this hammer to send the fans home happy:
10. This Boston team really likes each other. In the above clip, you can see the whole bench rise for Ojeleye’s dunk. In this clip, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart stage an impromptu dance routine:
And it would have been easy for Brown to be bitter about not making the All-Star team. He was a deserving candidate. But it was all love from Brown for his teammates:
It’s all love for all of the Celtics right now.