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Parquet plays: the extra pass

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The Celtics had 26 assists against the Cavaliers.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday night, the Celtics scored a season-high 141 points against the Cavaliers en route to a 38-point blowout. Before the game, Cleveland boasted the Eastern Conference’s stingiest defense at 106.0 points per 100 possessions; after the drubbing, they dropped to third behind Philadelphia and New York to a 107.7 defensive rating.

There are statistical anomalies and career milestones that illustrate just how good Boston was after ending a three-game losing streak that included two closes losses to the 76ers. Jaylen Brown scored 33 points (13-for-20 from the field, 3-for-4 from behind the arc) in just a shade over nineteen minutes. That’s the most in NBA history in under 20.

The Celtics shot 50% from 3 as a team, including 5-for-11 from sophomore Carsen Edwards and Aaron Nesmith.

Boston also registered 26 assists on 52 made field goals. That’s the third highest total in 2020-2021. Marcus Smart lead the team with nine dimes in arguably his best and most focused effort of the season. This was against a Cleveland in the thick of the playoff chase at 8-8 that just added Jarrett Allen and Taurean Prince to their already stout defensive identity.

With how hot Brown was in the game and frankly has been all year, that corner pocket 3 is one he takes 90% of the time. Instead, he opts to penetrate again and hit the cutting Tristan Thompson for an easier floater.

Similar play here from Smart. He’s got the green light to take it, but a secondary drive against an already collapsing defense creates an easy ten-footer for Daniel Theis.

Even against J.B. Bickerstaff’s 2-3 zone, the ball skips around the perimeter and Kemba Walker finds Aaron Nesmith.

The outcome of these extra passes aren’t just points on the board. For a roster that had doubts about its supporting cast heading into the season, these assists get secondary players involved in the offense.