Boston welcomed back the return a full complement of starters hosting the 17-7 Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. The Celtics would come into the clash in high spirits after snagging a second straight win over the Wizards behind the stellar play of Jayson Tatum. In a less than smooth start to the season, Boston’s wins over Indiana and Washington were timely as the team looks ahead to the All-Star break, the trade deadline and the return of meta-glue guy Marcus Smart.
With a surprise eleventh hour announcement, the Clippers would start Reggie Jackson in place of Kawhi Leonard after the scratching the All-Star forward who suffered from back spasms after fully participated in pregame warmups. Prior to the game, an NBA press release detailed that both Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum were named as participants in the All-Star weekend three-point contest, yet Boston wouldn’t need much long distance shooting as the Celtics scored 10 of the teams 16 points in the paint to take the early lead.
Boston scored a whopping 141 points in a free-flowing last meeting between these teams in L.A. as the Celtics prevailed and it would more of the same to start this clash. Both teams couldn’t miss in the first quarter as Boston shot 75 percent and the Clips 75 percent.
Rest days apparently suit Jaylen Brown, and he couldn’t miss early, as JB scorched to 14 quick points on a perfect 6-6 from the field. At the other end Paul George was 5-6 for 12 points of his own as Boston held a 35-32 lead after one.
With LA opening up running a zone to start the second quarter against Boston’s bench of Ojeleye, Teague, Pritchard, Robert Williams III and Jayson Tatum. It was the rookie Payton Pritchard yet again on the lob to the Timelord as those two have a special connection developing on the two-man game.
Payton Pritchard --> Robert Williams pic.twitter.com/YFj8JFK51m— Chris Grenham (@chrisgrenham) March 3, 2021
Payton Pritchard’s second three-pointer of the quarter held LA at bay, but the game was starting to open for the Clippers as they posted consecutive triples behind George and Morris. Midway through the quarter and some poor offensive execution by Boston with 6 first half turnovers left the door open for LA to outwork them and take back the lead. The Clippers are the current number one 3-point shooting team in the NBA, and it showed as Ty Lue’s team shot 57% from three for the half to hold a 63-62 lead.
Kemba Walker showed some of that trademark quickness to open the third hitting on a 25-foot three-point jumper and then flashed into the key for a 5-foot floater. Tristan Thompson was active on the boards for Boston especially with his second chance efforts hitting the glass to keep the ball alive. Thompson was also handy offensively with those hooks around the basket as the Celtics big man would register a double-double with a quarter to play. Kemba shooting was the story of the quarter though as he kept it going with a pair of brilliant triples to pace Boston back into the game.
Both teams struggled to create separation from one another though and it would take a desperation heave at the buzzer from Lou Williams to give the Clippers a one point lead, to 89-88 after three.
Despite Jayson Tatum struggling offensively the rest of the team was excellent as Timelord was all over the place on both ends and Payton Pritchard was hitting shots in a timely manner. With Zubac coming up strong for the Clippers in the fourth, it was truly a battle of the bigs as the game was in the balance. The Timelord was explosive throughout the whole game playing above the rim.
Jayson Tatum’s first triple of the game couldn’t of come at a better time as it game the C’s took a nine point lead and looked to wind the clock down. LA was playing desperation ball from behind and did enough to remain within two possessions into the final minute. A corner Paul George 3-ball with 10 seconds remaining would be his 32nd point of the game and close it two points. Daniel Theis would nail 2 free throws making it a two possesion game. The C’s would hang on despite a late scare,
Boston’s best player tonight was Robert Williams III, the big man had his most complete game in green with 13 points, 8 boards, 3 blocks and 4 assists off the bench for Boston. Kemba Walker led Boston with 25 points and six assists, it would be the point guard’s fourth straight 20+ scoring outing for Boston. Jaylen Brown would finish with 18 points with 2-3 from downtown.