On Thursday night, the Boston Celtics picked up one of their more impressive wins of the season, taking down the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies 120-107. Boston held the Grizzlies under 110 points, marking the first time they failed to reach that mark since January 23.
The night was highlighted by a fourth-quarter duel between Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant, as both players finished with 30-plus point nights. In the end, however, it was Tatum who walked away victorious.
After the game, Tatum was asked about what Boston’s last two wins (Memphis and Atlanta) tell him about the team.
“We’re trending in the right direction. And especially at this time of the season, just trying to find the way to be the best version of ourselves going into the playoffs.”
Despite being down by as much as 17 against the Atlanta Hawks, the C’s managed to mount a huge second-half comeback to grind out a win. Add on the win over Memphis, and they’ve been gelling nicely as a unit, despite dealing with multiple injuries.
Ime Udoka took home the Coach of the Month award for a 9-2 February. The Celtics are making some serious progress as a unit, and when asked about that progression, Tatum pointed toward two things: health and shot-making.
“We went through some growing pains - new team, new staff, things like that. Dealing with COVID, guys were injured. I didn’t hit no shots. Guys stopped getting COVID, we got healthy, and I started making some shots. And we’ve really been playing a lot better as a unit because we’ve just had more time together.”
Although Tatum’s three-point percentages haven’t gone up much in the past couple of months, he’s been able to earn his points in other ways. His field goal percentage since the start of 2022 sits at 45.9 percent vs. the 41.7 percent he shot up to that point.
Alongside Boston’s newfound team chemistry is the ability to enjoy themselves. Tatum said that the team has been having a lot more fun lately, a luxury they didn’t have at the beginning of the season.
‘’Watching us now, we play with a lot more passion. We just seem like we’re having a lot more fun. Obviously, when you’re winning you tend to play a little more enthused. With a smile, a laugh, things like that. It wasn’t happening too often at the beginning of the season.”
Tatum also made sure to credit the Celtics’ elite defense as the main factor behind their recent success. However, he also doubled down on how crucial having fun is.
“Defense, everybody being locked in, just having fun. This is basketball, at the end of the day. It’s supposed to be a lot of fun. And we’ve been having a lot of fun lately.”
The Celtics are now 38-27 on the season and sitting 5th in the Eastern Conference. Their next game is this Sunday when they welcome Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the Brooklyn Nets to TD Garden. The game is set to tip-off at 1:00 p.m.