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A comeback for seven straight wins: 11 Takeaways from Celtics-Thunder

Boston stepped up late to extend their streak to seven wins in a row

Oklahoma City Thunder v Boston Celtics Photo By Winslow Townson/Getty Images

1. The 2021 Boston Celtics lose Monday’s game to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Quite possibly in a blowout. They would have let go of the rope, maybe picked up a couple of ejections and it would have ended badly.

The current Celtics were frustrated for the majority of the game. For about 35 minutes of gametime, in fact. Boston couldn’t make a shot, they were upset with the officiating and their energy was pretty low from the jump.

Jaylen Brown did a good job keeping Boston in striking distance with 24 points through the first three quarters. Then, everyone else showed up with about a minute or so to play in the third quarter.

This was not the Celtics best win of the year by any means. But they showed fight, grit and togetherness. That they were able to get out of their own heads and pick up the energy level were signs of growth. And they executed well in in crunch time, which is starting to become a bit of a welcomed trend.

Here’s how Boston got it done for their seventh straight victory.

2. Postgame, Marcus Smart and others called out Payton Pritchard and Derrick White for picking up energy and getting the team going. Jayson Tatum said Pritchard just stays ready to contribute whenever he’s given the opportunity.

Pritchard got things started with this deep three near the end of the third quarter, which snapped a string of 11 misses in a row from behind the arc for Boston:

Pritchard and White then teamed up for this steal to end the quarter to give the Celtics some life heading into the final period:

3. To open the fourth quarter, White made life hell for the Thunder ballhandlers. Look at how early White reads this opportunity for the steal before he heads the other way and gets a couple of free throws:

A little while later, White victimizes Josh Giddey again with another pick and a layup:

4. It wasn’t a good shooting night for Jayson Tatum. He couldn’t find the range on his jumper all game. But Tatum made some adjustments. He started getting downhill more as the game went along. He was 6-of-10 inside the paint, including 4-for-4 in the fourth quarter. Tatum also earned 10 free throw attempts. That’s finding a way to score when your shot won’t fall.

Here’s a good example of Tatum not settling. He comes off the screen and instead of pulling up, Tatum uses an inside-out dribble to get to into the paint for a floater through contact:

5. Al Horford played a great game. Multiple times, Horford was the one pulling his teammates out of the mud when they got upset with the officiating. He also delivered some outstanding 1-on-1 defense in isolation against one of the hottest scorers in the NBA.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander excels by being slithery in the paint and getting to the rim through the smallest spaces possible. Horford’s initial job is to keep Gilgeous-Alexander in front of him. Mission accomplished. From there, Horford has to stay down on the two fakes before contesting the difficult fallaway. This is great stuff:

About a minute later, it’s the same setup. Again, Horford does a great job keeping Gilgeous-Alexander from getting by him. Look at how wide Horford is able to get when he extends to his full wingspan. Then he contests a difficult step-back three from Gilgeous-Alexander to force another miss:

6. In between those two stops from Al Horford, Jayson Tatum found himself standing all alone in the middle of a Thunder zone. Marcus Smart waited just long enough to get the right angle for the pass and Tatum very loudly hammered it through to tie the game:

7. Marcus Smart was dominant down the stretch of this game. Smart had 10 points, three rebounds and four assists in the fourth quarter. This was a very tough turnaround over Lu Dort:

Smart’s feeling pretty good now, so this is a great take off a nice find from Al Horford (but get behind the line DPOY!):

The confidence is overflowing now from Smart. This is a great contest from Dort, but it’s bottom of the next for Smart:

8. Derrick “Dagger” White gave the Celtics breathing room with this confident rip late in the shot-clock:

9. Marcus Smart trusts that magical lefthand of his as much as Boston loves and trusts him:

10. To cap the comeback, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart and Derrick White teamed up to break the Oklahoma City press to basically finish it off here:

11. Boston has the NBA’s best record at 11-3. They’ve now won seven straight games. On Wednesday, the Celtics start a three-game road trip. All three games look pretty tough, but for now the focus is only on the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks have played well and just took down the Milwaukee Bucks.

If the Celtics are going to extend the win streak to eight games, they’ll need to come out focused and ready from the start. But after this comeback, we know they have the ability to pick themselves up if they have to. Resilience and finding a way are earned traits, and Boston has them.

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