The San Antonio Spurs can’t keep getting away with this. THEY CAN’T KEEP GETTING AWAY WITH THIS! How is this team still so competitive? Yes, I know they have a good collection of young players plus some savvy vets, but man, they’re a really solid team. The Boston Celtics fell 110-106 in the face of a disaster class of a second quarter in a game that featured the Celtics playing 13 active players.
Marcus Smart (14-4-3) continued one of the best stretches of basketball of his career, pacing the Celtics with really solid offense before starting to take some pretty bad shots in the fourth. Jaylen Brown (24-4-5), Jayson Tatum (25-6-2) and Kemba Walker (14 points) weren’t on fire all night, but but they were there when it counted. Tatum and Brown both started to come alive in the third quarter, coming off the heels of a truly back-crushingly bad second quarter – one in which 12 players hit the floor for Boston.
The Spurs were paced by committee. DeMar DeRozan knocked down both his 10th and 11th 3-pointers of the season tonight against the Celtics – both contested – because of course. He finished with 21 points, 5 rebounds, and even 7 assists on almost perfect shooting (7-8). LaMarcus Aldridge has a personal grudge against the Celtics for some reason and hit Boston with 20 points. Lonnie Walker IV (14 points) came alive midway through the second quarter and was a huge key for San Antonio taking a 14-point lead. Dejounte Murray came up big defensively in the fourth quarter, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The most impactful Spurs player, however, was Keldon Johnson. He was everywhere, scored 18 points on fantastic efficiency to go with 10 rebounds, and was a shot in the arm for a Spurs team that gained excessive confidence based almost solely on his play.
Tonight was the healthiest the Celtics have been all season, and in the opening quarter, they looked really good. The ball was zipping around the court, and everybody was eating. Things looked great even as Brad Stevens looked deeper and deeper at Boston’s bench. Maybe the starters rested too long, but when they checked back in, they looked ROUGH. The Spurs got whatever they wanted because Boston’s defense was like a red carpet to the rim and an all-you-can-jumpshot buffet.
The beginning of the second half had a bit more energy to it, but the Spurs were still dominating offensively. A 21-4 run was keyed by the Jays in the third quarter and some zone defensive possessions, and Boston put itself back in the game. Once Grant Williams subbed in the game, Boston outscored San Antonio 13 points in just 6 minutes. Like Scal said on the broadcast, it was like 3 separate games went on tonight – Boston’s early flow, the Spurs shooting layup lines, and then Boston’s comeback afterward.
JB on the break to cut it to 1! pic.twitter.com/0W9pj6eXW9— Boston Celtics (@celtics) January 28, 2021
The fourth quarter didn’t start off the way Boston likely would have wanted (featuring a Spurs 11-0 run). Robert Williams did an excellent job of keeping practically every miss alive. There were just . . . a lot of misses. Smart did do some hijacking of the offense after having a great start to the game, but there wasn’t much offensive cohesion. With so many rotating parts tonight, it’s clear that Brad Stevens is trying to find which combinations of players work the best.
The Spurs came up more clutch down the stretch, with DeMar DeRozan hitting his toughest contested jumper of the night over Tristan Thompson. From there, freethrows sealed it. Boston would like to have this one back; this is one they could have won.
Something to watch:
- Daniel Theis – 12 minutes
- Tristan Thompson – 22 minutes
- Robert Williams – 13 minutes
- Grant – 11 minutes
The Celtics take on their biggest rivals – the Los Angeles Lakers – on Saturday at 8:30 PM EST on ABC.