The Celtics traveled to FedExForum in hopes of establishing a new win streak after handily defeating the Orlando Magic on Sunday. Meanwhile, Boston’s foe, the Memphis Grizzlies, were 2-2 across their last four outings with recent victories against the Miami Heat and Golden State Warriors. A fantastic showing from Jeff Teague (26 points on 10-for-12 shooting from the field) was not enough to overcome Ja Morant as the Celtics fell 126-132.
First Quarter: Boston came out of the gate with a palpable sense of urgency on both ends of the floor. Three three-pointers combined from Marcus Smart and Jeff Teague and a charge taken by Semi Ojeleye against Ja Morant propelled Boston to an early 13-4 edge. Memphis then countered with a 6-0 spurt of their own by doing what they do better than any other team in the NBA — score inside the paint. The latter portion of the quarter consisted of a one-sided three-point shootout. The two squads combined for 21 attempted treys, but the Celtics shot a much superior 6-for-11 compared to Memphis’ 2-for-10 clip. Boston led by six after 12 minutes, 30-24, behind nine points from Marcus Smart.
Second Quarter: Aaron Nesmith was the odd man out in Boston’s rotation a few weeks back, but as of late, he’s seen an uptick in run time, and he had a standout beginning to the second. He ushered in the frame with five quick points, including one three off a pin-down action and a pair of free throws. But the home team began to maneuver their way to the paint possession after possession and devastated the Celtics with layups and floaters. Memphis converted eight of their first nine shots to start the quarter, with many being point-blank looks. By the 4:26 mark, the Grizzlies seized a two-point advantage thanks to 20 combined points for Morant and Dillon Brooks, who hit nine of their 14 field-goals up to that point. However, the Celtics roared back to close the half thanks to an unlikely hero — Jeff Teague. He led the Celtics in the points department with 13, and Boston entered the locker room ahead by five, 65-60.
Third Quarter: Jonas Valanciunas, one of the more underrated players in the NBA, devastated Daniel Theis in the early part of the third. He accumulated eight points across the first three minutes — his most noteworthy two was a poster dunk on the German. With 8:12 to go in the third, Brad Stevens opted for a timeout after the Grizzlies commenced the second half on a 14-4 run to capture a five-point lead. Additionally, though the threes were falling early in the game for Boston, they struggled to obtain a rhythm beyond the arc in the penultimate quarter. Only one of their six treys found nylon. If it wasn’t for ten third-quarter points from Jaylen Brown, the Grizzlies could have very well run away with this one. Memphis outscored the Celtics 34-21 and were sitting pretty at the end of three ahead by eight.
Fourth Quarter: The start of the fourth was a battle of the benches, as both teams rolled with their reserves. Memphis undeniably has greater depth than the Celtics, and they made this apparent through their play. Consecutive three-balls from D’Anthony Melton and interior scoring from Brandon Clarke and Justise Winslow enlarged the Memphis advantage to nine with 8:20 to play. But once the starting unit entered the game for Boston, the green began to rally. Brown and Robert Williams found their grooves offensively — nine points from the pair across two minutes sliced Memphis’ once sizable lead to four by the 4:36 mark. The final minutes of the fourth were nothing short of thrilling. Neither side could gain any semblance of breathing room. A game-tying dunk from Theis with 7.3 seconds in regulation ensured an overtime period in Memphis. The squads entered overtime knotted at 117 apiece.
Overtime: Memphis thoroughly outplayed Boston in the extra minutes. Brooks made enormous plays for the opposition, grabbing offensive rebounds and knocking down jumpers. Teague continued his brilliance from regulation and kept the green team somewhat within arm’s reach, but Boston didn’t have enough left in the tank to come away victorious. Teague finished with arguably his finest performance as a Celtic with 26 points and six dimes. The final score was 132-126 in favor of Memphis.