1. Jayson Tatum carried over his strong performance in Atlanta to this win over the Los Angeles Lakers. Tatum finished with 37 points on 13-of-26 shooting. Tatum hit 4-of-9 from deep, but what really stood out was him getting to the basket. Did Tatum get away with a chick wing here? Maybe, but it’s good to see him go strong off a cut:
All that’s missing from this finish over Malik Monk is the “He’s too little!” motion:
This drive came in transition. Look right as Tatum gathers. He takes the bump from LeBron James and still finishes strong at the rim:
On the previous two clips and this next clip, you see that Tatum took some contact. What you don’t see is the ball falling off the rim while Tatum complains for a foul. Just strong finishes at the rim here:
You wanna finish off your rival? You do it with force:
Re-watch the above clip to see how fired up Tatum is after the basket drops, including a high-five so hard to Al Horford that Horford was left shaking his stinging hand!
2. Marcus Smart put together another really good game. He’s been very good for about two weeks now, which just happens to coincide with Boston playing their best basketball of the season.
Over the last couple of weeks, Ime Udoka has let Smart work from the post more. It generally results in good stuff for the Celtics. Here, Smart picks on Malik Monk, who doesn’t have the bulk to keep him from getting into the paint:
No pun intended, but this is a smart play. Smart keeps the ball long enough to hold his defender, while also keeping Anthony Davis at the paint. That opens up Josh Richardson for the jumper:
No one on the Celtics enjoys throwing lobs to Rob Williams more than Marcus Smart does. With Williams out, Smart threw the “Rob lob” to Al Horford here:
3. The Celtics other starting guard in this one had a little revenge on his mind. Dennis Schroder said there was “no way” he was missing this game against the Lakers, despite rolling his ankle against the Hawks on Wednesday. Schroder delivered.
Over and over, Schroder broke down the Lakers defense and got into the paint for layups or pullups. And he made some pretty good plays as a passer too. This is really good offense by Schroder to take the delay/backup dribble to keep the defender from trailing Grant Williams’ late cut:
Later in the third quarter, this is just a gorgeous pick-and-roll bounce-pass to Al Horford:
Schroder had a couple of sloppy turnovers, but overall, he was excellent for the Celtics against one of his former teams.
4. Al Horford and Josh Richardson have shown up a couple of times in the clips above. Both players did what they’ve been doing for a while now: Putting in a solid, if unspectacular effort on both ends of the floor. Boston would be in real trouble without either of the veterans. They both show up and do their jobs on an almost nightly basis. That’s got to give Ime Udoka some level of comfort in an up-and-down season to date.
5. In a blowout victory, we’re not going to nitpick too much with negative clips. That said…what in the world is Grant Williams doing here? Either actually double-team or, you know, stay with one of the best players of all-time:
On the flip-side: How confident is this catch-and-shoot pull off an inbounds set?
Grant’s good. And he has been all season.
6. With Robert Williams sidelined, Ime Udoka called on Enes Kanter again. The box score won’t show much stats-wise, but in 10 straight minutes of floor-time bridging the first and second quarter, Kanter was a huge part of Boston’s comeback. He did his job on offense as a screen-setter. On defense, he stood up Anthony Davis on a couple of straight post-up attempts.
The Lakers did the Celtics some favors by not challenging Kanter in pick-and-roll, but it was a good stint for the big man. Udoka didn’t push his luck and went small as the Lakers downsized throughout the second half. But that first Kanter-stint was a big part of Boston getting back in the game.
7. Romeo Langford’s box score is as similarly ho-hum as Enes Kanter’s. And it also belies his impact. Langford’s on-ball defense was excellent. We’ve seen this story before with LeBron James having the ball at the end of a quarter. Langford re-writes it with a big steal this time:
8. Remember Marcus Smart saying he wanted the ball more to make life easier for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown as scorers? This play is what he’s talking about. Swing, swing, attack the paint, kick to the shooter. Beautiful, beautiful basketball here:
9. Let’s cap it off with having a little fun, shall we?
The basketball…it was fun on Friday night.
10. Hey! The Celtics are .500 again! They get right back at it on Saturday on a back-to-back by welcoming the Oklahoma City Thunder to Boston. That’s a game the Celtics should win. The Thunder are also on a back-to-back and will be traveling in from Milwaukee. Then it’s another home game against the Houston Rockets.
This is a chance to build a little momentum for Boston. Get that record up over .500 and then reincorporate Jaylen Brown and Robert Williams into the lineup. This is a spot where the Celtics might go on a run.