Fair warning: This version of the Takeaways is going to be very clip heavy. There were that many good things from this game! That may seem surprising in a game where the Celtics were challenged by the undermanned Magic, but there was a lot of good to be found.
1. Let’s start with Gordon Hayward looking bouncy. When Boston returned to practice, Hayward said he still had pain in his left leg/foot, but he also said he can play through it. Since the Celtics arrived in Orlando, Hayward has consistently said he feels good. That’s backed up by his play in the bubble, as he’s averaged 18.7 points on 49.4% shooting, 8.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
You can tell Hayward is feeling good when he attacks the paint on a regular basis. On this play, Hayward gets Nikola Vucevic on a switch and blows by him for the easy dunk:
Later in the first half, with the rest of Boston’s offense struggling, Hayward was the go-to guy. This play is a good example of Hayward’s personal pace. He slows down as he drives, then hangs for the and-1:
2. As a sign of his growth as a passer, Jayson Tatum has averaged four assists per game in the bubble. He’s starting to develop a really good chemistry with Hayward. Here’s a pretty find through traffic:
Late in the clock, you know Tatum is looking for his shot. But here he makes the right read to find Hayward on the backdoor cut:
3. Celtics fans have been begging for more minutes for Robert Williams off the bench. Williams played for a third straight game against the Magic, and he delivered once again. Marcus Smart likes to get the big man going, and did so 10 seconds after they both checked in:
Next trip, Williams hangs out in the dunker spot and Kemba Walker finds him for the two-hander:
The dunks are the highlights, but what will keep Williams in the game are plays like this:
He positions properly in pick-and-roll defense and uses his quick hands to get a steal. Then he leads the break before finding Wanamaker for the layup. That’s the stuff that will keep getting the Time Lord time.
4. Marcus Smart had three steals in this game. This first one, off an inbounds play, shows that passing it in from the corner against Smart is a losing endeavor:
In overtime, Smart steals back a possession for the Celtics by taking the ball away from Nikola Vucevic:
That steal led to Gordon Hayward getting fouled on a three-point attempt and Boston took a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
5. We talked already about Tatum and Hayward’s chemistry. It works the other way too. Tatum does a nice job of purposefully relocating after kicking out to Hayward, who works a second drive and kick for the Tatum triple:
6. Hayward and Tatum get the headlines from this game, but Jaylen Brown did his part once again. This pull-up three-pointer is huge for when bigs lay back against Brown in pick-and-roll:
If he can make them press up, there isn’t a big man in the league that can stay with Brown off the bounce. It’s all about the diversity of scoring options Brown has now.
7. Back to the top and Hayward feeling good and being bouncy, look at this chase down block late in regulation:
8. Kemba Walker has talked often about what attracted him to the Celtics was that he wasn’t going to have to be “the man” for the team to win games. Walker can have off nights scoring, like his 1-of-9 for four points night against Orlando, and Boston can still win.
But within that, Walker still managed to make some big plays. This offensive rebound tip out to Tatum was as big a play as any in the game:
9. Right before this play starts, Walker tells Tatum “You got this.” For a ninth-year veteran to tell the third-year star that it’s his game says a lot about both players. For Walker, it tells us he’s about winning above glory. For Tatum, it tells us that his teammates trust him to be a late-game killer that delivers in the clutch:
10. None of the other Celtics heroics would have been possible if not for the most unheralded member of the starting five making big plays. Daniel Theis came up huge late in regulation and again in overtime. First, Theis gets this block to allow Boston to run the play for Tatum’s tying jumper:
Late in overtime, Theis does it again:
Whenever the team needs a play from a big man, Theis seems to deliver. He’s probably the least exciting player of Boston’s top-eight rotation players, but he’s just as important as any of them. And he came up big for the Celtics to get this win.