Before we start the Takeaways, I want to thank you for being here 82 times this season. I personally wrote 80 versions of Takeaways from regular season games this year. Daniel Poarch pinch hit once to cover for me. And once, with my heart broken, I wrote about losing my best friend.
82 times you’ve come here for analysis, hopefully some sane reaction and occasionally a little humor from the previous game and the season as a whole. I can only hope that I’ve delivered on those expectations.
And there’s more to come! We’ve got the Playoffs starting this coming weekend. And we’ll be here after each game. Here’s to hoping we’ve got 16 wins to recap before all is said and done!
On to the final game of the regular season…
1. The 2-seed. 51 wins. Both seem unfathomable, considering how this season started. But here we are.
You can argue if the Boston Celtics should have tried harder to avoid a potential (likely) matchup with the Brooklyn Nets, but what is done is done. As Ime Udoka and several players said versions of after they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies: “We aren’t ducking anyone”.
Win or lose, this Celtics group is going to go out swinging. They won’t be limping off sadly like last year’s banged-up bunch. And that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch play out over the coming weeks.
2. Jayson Tatum didn’t save his best for last, because he’s been great for a while now, but he was still really, really good in this one. If not for the blowout nature of the game, there’s no telling how many points Tatum would have finished with.
Tatum really had it going from behind the arc, as he finished 6-of-8 from downtown. He did a nice job here of using Daniel Theis to set a semi-screen in transition before burying the pullup:
This was the classic Tatum side-step step-back:
And this is just toying with a defender. Even Tatum himself was impressed that this one went down for the four-point play:
That’s an All-NBA First Team player and a guy who should show up on a lot of MVP ballots in the fourth or fifth spot.
3. Marcus Smart didn’t have to do a lot, but he once again confidently ran the offense. This is a good push in transition, followed by a pretty no-look pass to get Jayson Tatum a layup:
Later in the game, Smart does a nice job to reset the offense here. That allows Al Horford to get position and Smart loops a little lob over the top for the easy layup:
4. Speaking of Al Horford, he’s been on quite the push to close the regular season. He finished with another really strong game. With no back-to-backs in the playoffs, Horford should be ready to go for the postseason run.
If you put a smaller or weaker defender on him, Horford is going to get to the old-reliable jump hook:
Horford has been dealing with some back tightness, but says he’ll be ok. You can tell he’s feeling pretty good when Horford is sending shots back like this:
As has for his entire career, Horford remains one of the best passing bigs in the game. If the defense falls asleep, Horford will pick them apart finding cutters, as he does here with Jaylen Brown:
5. This game was pretty sloppy. Both teams were focused, as they should have been, on getting out of there healthy. That led to some careless turnovers. Same was true of extensive garbage time playing a part in lots of giveaways.
When they weren’t throwing it all over the gym, the Celtics were piling up assists. 34 dimes on 54 buckets. Another great passing night in a string of great passing nights.
6. This is some of that really good passing. Four guys touch it, and Jayson Tatum has enough time to find the seams before banging it home:
We’ve talked in this space about how making the extra pass is contagious. Grant Williams could have shot this corner three. That’s where he lives. But with a defender closing hard, Williams swings it to Payton Pritchard for a great look:
Prichard finished a hair in front of Williams for the team lead in three-point shooting: 41.2% to 41.1%. Both players are going to have to play a big role if Boston is going to make a long playoff run.
7. No matter the opponent in the first round, finding easy offense is huge in the playoffs. Derrick White has helped energized the Celtics transition attack. This is a great hard push by White, before he slows himself down just slightly for the and-1 at the rim. Another perfect example of his personal pace:
8. The Celtics had a lot of fun this season, but no Boston player may have enjoyed things more than Malik Fitts. His bench celebrations have become a thing of legend in a short amount of time.
It was only fair to see the Boston bench lose their collective minds when Fitts did this:
9. Matt Ryan became the 28th player to appear in a game for the Celtics this season. There’s some funny irony in there, given the “Matt Ryan, 28, New England team” connections.
Overall, Ryan is the 497th player to play for Boston in the franchise’s history. That led to this fun revelation by Ryan himself:
And Ryan got the first basket of his NBA career too, which he and his teammates were thrilled about:
10. The Celtics now get six days off. They’ll open the playoffs at home on Sunday, April 17. Boston will be playing either the Brooklyn Nets or the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. Those two face off in Brooklyn on Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.
CelticsBlog will have all sorts of coverage coming as we wrap up the regular season and look forward to the 2022 NBA Playoffs. The quest for Banner 18 starts now!