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Reserves spark a rally: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Kings

Boston used a 19-0 run to take back control in the third quarter

Sacramento Kings v Boston Celtics Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images

1. It looked like the Boston Celtics were going to run away with a Black Friday blowout over the Sacramento Kings. But the Kings came back and made it a game. Then the Celtics used a massive 19-0 run, which flowed into a 32-4 run, to cruise to victory.

Joe Mazzulla has talked a lot about not calling timeouts and letting his guys play through opposing runs. This game wasn’t as much about that, as Mazzulla did use a few timeouts when Boston fell behind. But it was about the Celtics figuring it out. After playing a quarter-and-a-half of sloppy basketball, Boston locked into late in the third into the early fourth and dominated.

The Kings are a good team. They’ve been playing historically well on offense. Yet, when the Celtics focused and got after it defensively, Sacramento couldn’t score. That bodes well for Boston moving forward.

2. It’s almost uncanny how much First Quarter Jaylen Brown is a thing. This wasn’t the huge scoring outburst from Brown to open things, but he made a statement early.

This is good stuff to open. Brown could have taken this shot. No one would have blamed him. But he made the unselfish extra pass to Derrick White for the triple:

A little later in the first quarter, Brown made the right read and hit the on-time bounce pass to White for the transition layup:

Boston seemed to make it a focus to go right at Kevin Huerter when they could. On this play, Brown overpowered Huerter for the and-1:

This was another strong finish from Brown. Off the offensive rebound scramble, Brown did a nice job attacking before the defense could reset:

The Celtics have done a nice job opening games this season and Jaylen Brown continually having productive first quarters is a big part of that.

3. Al Horford is so steady. He remains a presence on the defensive end:

Horford is also knocking down jumpers at the best rate of his career. Horford is shooting 47.9% from behind the arc on 4.6 three-point attempts per game. That’s inclusive of a 0-for-7 game too. Because of that, Boston is running sets to get Horford three-point looks. This is a fake screen from Horford that turns into a pin-down from Jayson Tatum:

Earlier in the game, Horford hit a trailing three in transition. He’s making everything from behind the arc, as we said above. He could take this shot, but instead Horford makes the extra pass to Derrick White for the corner three:

This is good play design that takes advantage of Horford’s passing ability. It’s a standard pick-and-roll with White and Horford. But Tatum swings up to the top, dragging his defender out of help position. Because Sacramento puts two on the ball, De’Aaron Fox has to help out of the corner or it’s a dunk. Horford is one of the best short-roll passers in the league, so it’s easy money for Malcolm Brogdon in the corner:

4. Jayson Tatum put together another 30-point scoring night. It was the 10th time in 19 games that Tatum has hit that marker this season. Like Jaylen Brown, Tatum also had a play where he completely overpowered Kevin Huerter for an and-1:

Tatum has been doing more work out of the post this season. He’s got a lot of moves he can get to on post-ups. When he draws a similarly-sized defender, Tatum often goes to his fadeaway:

When the Kings switch this, Tatum draws Domantas Sabonis. That leaves Al Horford with Kevin Huerter guarding him. Tatum doesn’t force the shot on the drive, but leaves it for Horford for the easy layup:

Here’s Tatum again working in the post. This time, he goes to the no-dribble turnaround, which catches Harrison Barnes off-guard:

5. This shot chart from the Kings in in the second quarter has to be the stuff of Joe Mazzulla’s nightmares:

Kings Q2 Shot Chart at Boston
NBA Stats

Sacramento shot 13-of-16 for 26 points in the paint during the second period. That’s about a half’s worth of paint points in one quarter.

The Kings simply ran a layup line. Boston’s perimeter defense was non-existent and that was followed by no help at the rim. It was a quarter-long blip in an otherwise solid defensive effort from the Celtics.

6. Late in the third quarter, Boston really picked things up. With Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart on the bench in foul trouble, and Jayson Tatum playing through some foul trouble but staying on the floor, Joe Mazzulla turned to his bench. Payton Pritchard and Luke Kornet got in the game and helped turn things around.

Boston trailed 84-78 with 4:04 to play in the third. From there, the Celtics outscored the Kings 19-0 through the 10:57 mark of the fourth quarter. That’s stretch of five minutes without allowing a basket.

It got worse for Sacramento. By the time they resettled, Boston had extended the run to 32-4. At that point, the Celtics were cruising to victory.

7. Payton Pritchard helped sparked the comeback. He simply stays ready for whenever his number is called. Jayson Tatum knows this ball is going in before Pritchard even lets it go. This shot gave Boston back a lead they wouldn’t relinquish:

Pritchard’s ability to get his shot off right off the catch is rivaled only by Sam Hauser’s on the Celtics:

The shooting is great, but what gets his teammates and coaches fired up is Pritchard’s hustle. We often see it show up with him chasing down offensive rebounds. But this is a great blockout against a much bigger player for a defensive rebound:

8. Luke Kornet also stepped up and gave the Celtics a lift. On a night where Grant Williams was ineffective, Joe Mazzulla called on Luke Kornet to give Al Horford a breather late in the third quarter.

He’s not Robert Williams, but Kornet can finish off lobs pretty well too:

Kornet is also pretty good at protecting the rim. This is that help defense that was missing in the second quarter:

A little later, Kornet showed up to help at the rim again:

At this point, both Kornet and Payton Pritchard should see nightly minutes. Running an eight-man rotation this early in the season is not sustainable. Beyond that, Kornet and Pritchard have earned the opportunity to be rotation regulars.

9. As we always do, when someone gets their first points as a Celtic, we’re going to show them to you. When it’s their first career bucket, it’s even better. Welcome to the NBA scoring club JD Davison!

10. The Celtics are back on track after that mess in Chicago to start the week. Now, they’ll welcome the Washington Wizards to Boston on Sunday. This is the middle of the six-game homestand before the Celtics head out on a long road trip. With all winnable games in front of them, it’s a good time for the guys in green to start another streak.

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