1. It was Dennis Schroder’s night on the offensive end of the floor, as the Boston Celtics went overtime once again, and beat the Milwaukee Bucks to get to .500 on the season. Schroder opened the game with 14 points in the first quarter, but he saved his best for last. Schroder scored 11 points in the fourth, and then added eight more point in the overtime period. All told, half of his 38 points came in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Schroder did most of his damage by getting downhill. This play opened the scoring in overtime. Schroder gets the mismatch against Bobby Portis here. He initially gives it up, but Al Horford gets it right back. Then watch everyone else. Horford pulls away to the wing, while Robert Williams heads to the weakside dunker spot. Jayson Tatum stays in the corner until Schroder starts his move, while Marcus Smart plants himself in the strongside corner. This is perfect spacing for Schroder to blow past the big off the bounce:
This set looks a lot like the one above. Boston has downsized here and Smart is playing the Horford spot, while Josh Richardson is in Smart’s spot. The result is the same:
Schroder was again sloppy with turnovers (14 in his last two games) and his defense leaves a lot to be desired (he had a big hand in Milwaukee tying the game late), but his offense made up for it. As Ime Udoka said postgame, Schroder’s aggressiveness from the tip set a tone for the Celtics.
2. Al Horford continues to shoot it poorly from the outside, but he’s making a huge impact in every other phase of the game for Boston. In this one, the Celtics played through Horford quite a bit. That opened up the game for the big man to work as a facilitator, especially on some big-to-big passes.
It’s not often you see a 6’10’’ power forward/center drive a closeout to find the other big for a dunk to open the game’s scoring:
Here’s more big-to-big passing. Horford gets it on the block and opens himself up to see Grant Williams making the well-timed cut:
3. Robert Williams didn’t play well in the Celtics collapse against the Chicago Bulls. He said after that game that Ime Udoka challenged him to be aggressive. Williams seemingly got the message. As Boston has won four-of-five since then, Williams has averaged 12 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, including a ridiculous 5.2 offensive rebounds a night.
Overall, Williams is at 32.1 minutes per game, which is almost double his previous career-high. And he’s averaging 10.1 points (on a league-leading 74.3% from the field), 8.9 rebounds, 1.9 blocks and 1.1 steals. Williams has arguably been the Celtics most-consistent performer this season.
4. Jayson Tatum still can’t get his shot to fall consistently, but there are signs he’s breaking out of his early-season slump. What was good to see in this game was Tatum attacking the rim against the small Bucks. This was his first basket of the game:
It’s not that Tatum was going a million miles an hour on that play, but he never hesitated and drove right to the basket for the easy layup. Here’s a somewhat similar play:
Once again, Tatum plays with a good pace and as soon as he hits the arc in transition, he’s off to the rim.
5. Turnovers and defensive rebounding were again issues for the Celtics. They threw the ball away 16 times. That’s too many and helped keep a limited Bucks team in the game.
The other thing that allowed Milwaukee to hang around was Boston allowing 12 offensive rebounds. And remember, this was the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Celtics have to do a better job limiting those extra chances in both areas.
6. On this clip, Aaron Nesmith is fresh off the bench, but look as his activity immediately:
He does a good job chasing Rodney Hood off the screen, while pushing the lefty into Robert Williams as the help defender. Then Nesmith recovers back out to run Bobby Portis off the arc, before contesting the floater.
Nesmith is always making something happen when he’s out there and he’s earning more opportunities simply by being active.
7. Dennis Schroder owned the beginning and end of the game, but Marcus Smart took over in the third quarter. Smart scored 12 points in the period to keep Boston afloat.
Throughout the game, with Schroder playing a scoring role, Smart was a primary playmaker. Here’s a nice attack in transition where Smart finds Grant Williams on the baseline cut:
On the very next trip, Smart dimes up the other Williams:
When you’re seeing the floor the way Smart was, it’s time to have a little fun:
Usually when Smart and Robert Williams hook up, it’s a lob, but here’s a pretty pocket pass. Also, look at Williams explosion to the rim for the dunk:
8. We beat up the Celtics a bit for their defensive rebounding, but in the last two games the Celtics have gotten all over the offensive glass. Robert Williams is leading the charge, but Al Horford and Jayson Tatum have chipped in too. It’s also not uncommon to see Boston’s guards or wings flying in to keep a possession alive.
Right now, the Celtics are a limited offensive team, especially without Jaylen Brown. Stealing some extra opportunities by going to the boards is a way to offset those limitations.
9. Have you noticed all the plays with cutting from this game? Well, here’s one more. This sort of play only works if your big can pass. With Robert Williams and Al Horford, Boston has two bigs who are excellent passers. This is just beautiful basketball:
10. Another overtime game wasn’t what the Celtics needed, but they’ll take wins however they can get them. Now, Boston travels to Cleveland for the second night of a back-to-back. This game is the first of a two-game set at the Cavaliers. Then it’s off to play the Atlanta Hawks, as the Celtics road-heavy early schedule continues.
The Cavs are playing well, but these are two games the Celtics can win. The Hawks are really struggling to find their footing to open this season. This is an opportunity for Boston to find a little momentum and push their record up over .500 on the season.