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Halftime hot takes: Celtics role players shine in high-scoring half

Aaron Nesmith and Evan Fournier have looked great, and Celtics fans should be excited.

Portland Trail Blazers v Boston Celtics Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images

What a feeling, not trailing at the half. After Friday’s 32-point comeback, a 71-71 first half tie over the Portland Trail Blazers should assuage panic, for now.

It’s shaping up to be a high-scoring shootout with four certified bucket-getters in Jayson Tatum, Damian Lillard, Jaylen Brown and CJ McCollum squaring off this Sunday. Break out the SPF 50, it’s getting hot in here.

Nesmith is Ne-Solidified

Marcus Smart said it best when he said Aaron Nesmith has been unreal recently. Nesmith came into the game midway through the first tonight, and immediately drilled his first shot, a three from the wing. He continued the hot streak, hitting his first three shots – all 3-pointers.

The rookie from Vanderbilt looks different out there. He’s playing with the same energy he has all year, but the confidence is finally starting to match the energy.

When Brad Stevens is making the playoff rotation, he will have no choice but to include Aaron Nesmith after this recent stretch of games. In the postseason, there’s no room for rookie hesitancy. Nesmith is slowly – but surely – eliminating that mental block from his game. He’s not second-guessing anymore, he’s getting the ball and immediately pulling the trigger.

The rook got in some foul trouble early, but other than those three early fouls, Nesmith played a tremendous first half.

Right now, Nesmith is the biggest riser on the team, his stock price is shooting up almost as fast as Deuce Tatum is growing. Almost.

Good Google-y Goo! Fournier is heating up

It hasn’t been a secret, Evan Fournier has struggled since being traded to Beantown. The fanbase has been understandably concerned, but relax, he’s getting there.

Fournier is getting into a groove after a nice eight-point third quarter against San Antonio on Friday night, and seven points on perfect shooting in the first tonight.

Despite missing many open looks and sometimes appearing lost on defense, Fournier still brings great energy and adds a wrinkle to the offense that will be beneficial come playoff time.

His lengthy absence in the Health and Safety Protocols can’t be forgotten. His already delicate rhythm was thrown off even more when he was forced out shortly after changing teams. Fournier hasn’t been the same scorer he was in Orlando since coming to Boston, but he won’t need to be.

Celtics fans will be changing their tune on Fournier come playoff time, book it.

Stay Melo

Carmelo Anthony was playing well in the first half, despite only scoring four points. Anthony made an impact on defense and impressed when he went to work, including a nifty turnaround jumper that fills you with the early 2000’s nostalgia, especially since he’s rocking braids again.

Anthony needs 23 points tonight to pass Elvin Hayes for 10th on the NBA’s all time scoring list. He’s getting it. A now 36-year-old Melo hasn’t missed a game for Portland all year, and he’s proving that he still belongs in the league.

He’s not a world-beater like he used to be, but Melo has value offensively. He’ll show that value in the second, and pass Hayes to become a top-10 all time scorer.

Melo has a lot of ink already, but a Drake-inspired “I’m never washed, but I’m not new” tattoo would fit like a glove. All he needs is 19 to etch is name in history. Expect lots of mid-range turnarounds and post-ups in the second to give 90’s babies some good, sentimental feelings.

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