After an 11-0 start to the first quarter, the Sacramento Kings responded over the ensuing minutes of game time, eventually pulling within four. Thirty seconds in to the second quarter, Boston’s lead was just 32-28.
However, a strong second quarter response from the Celtics propelled them to their second win on a four-game west coast swing.
Obviously, Jayson Tatum’s four 3-pointers in the first five minutes of the second were crucial to putting the pedal to the metal. The lineup of Payton Pritchard, Derrick White, Tatum, Grant Williams and Daniel Theis played to their strengths perfectly, which was the key to the 35-22 second quarter.
By spacing White, Tatum, Williams and Pritchard out and having Theis patrol the paint, the Celtics were able to find good looks, which they couldn’t miss all night.
That lineup outscored the Kings 17-7 to open the second period, attacking from the outside and playing sound defense. It was only after Sacramento scored five points on back-to-back possessions that Ime Udoka subbed Theis and White out.
This inbound play started the avalanche of threes, as Tatum receives a quick pass from Pritchard then fires a three over a double screen from Williams and Theis. Creating this look gave Tatum some momentum, which he carried into three more threes, two of them much tougher looks than this one.
On the ensuing possessions, Boston used their fiendish switching defense to force an errant pass and two contested threes.
First, Theis stuck with Davion Mitchell and forced a miss. Next, Williams fought over a high screen and contested a deep three from Donte DiVincenzo. This devastating team defense gave the offense the room to bomb away from deep.
Following Tatum’s 3-point explosion, the defense immediately doubles him near the arc. This forces the Kings’ defense to go in rotation, freeing Theis for a baseline cut for an alley-oop.
Therein lies the beauty of Tatum as an offensive hub. His multi-faceted skillset allows the Celtics to create many avenues for offensive creation based on what he has going on any given night. Last night, it was the three ball, and the Celtics offense adjusted to continue building their lead.
The Theis alley-oop inside was a result of Tatum’s gravity, and later on, that gravity manifested in a perimeter look.
Once again seeing a double, Tatum this time kicks the ball out to Williams on the perimeter. The Celtics move the ball effortlessly and intelligently, creating a good look for Pritchard in the corner. Despite a flying DiVincenzo on the closeout, Pritchard nails the shot.
This Celtics second-quarter surge was spurred by Tatum, but his teammates kept the momentum going with unselfish and smart play on both ends of the floor. The lineup of Pritchard/White/Tatum/Williams/Theis was instrumental to the Celtics’ win over Sacramento on Friday night, providing the boost needed to put away a more disorganized team.
The surge was emblematic of how Boston has improved this season together.