And we are back with another How ‘Bout Them Celtics Tri-Weekly!
The Boston Celtics fell to the Minnesota Timberwolves in ugly fashion, but Jayson Tatum’s new offensive game is taking him to new heights. Let’s get into the action.
Sam’s Pick: What am I watching, the 2023 Playoffs???
The feeling that the Celtics gave me on Monday night was all too familiar as they let a winnable game trickle away in the closing minutes of regulation and into overtime. I had flashbacks to the crunch time losses sprinkled through Boston’s disappointing playoff run last spring.
With two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Jaylen Brown knocked down a corner three to give the Cs a three-point lead. From that point on things got SLOPPY on the offensive end.
After allowing the Timberwolves to match with a long-range make of their own, Boston brought the ball down and settled for a tough Jayson Tatum fall away from the mid-range.
Fortunately, the Cs were able to stop the surging Timberwolves on back-to-back possessions. However, they weren’t able to take advantage of a pair of opportunities to land a finishing blow on the hosts. Instead, they strung together two hideous turnovers.
First, Mike Conley knocked the ball away from Jrue Holiday as he drove inside.
Then, a sloppy pass from Tatum led Al Horford to try and ABSOLUTELY FLOOR IT, only to stumble and then slip out of bounds. There’s a pretty fair chance that the rushed look was a result of the absolutely fraudulent two-for-one mindset.
To finish off regulation, the Cs got a decent look at a three, as Brown cleared himself some space with a step back move. Even though the attempt was fine, they probably could’ve gotten a better look had they gotten into the action sooner, or even called a timeout (which is not something I typically worry about — this isn’t Joe Mazzulla’s fault).
Once things got to overtime, Anthony Edwards caught fire for Minnesota, and the Celtics got roped into playing his game. They began to settle for tough looks and isolation opportunities, almost conceding the game after the young star heated up.
Now, I’m not going to stress about one meltdown, especially after watching the Cs buckle down in early wins over the New York Knicks and Miami Heat. But, I hope this is the last collapse that I have to watch for quite a while. This team is just simply too talented to not be able to get good shots in a close game like last night’s.
Jack’s Pick: Jayson Tatum has found another level
The bulk of this show was recorded before the Celtics’ loss to the Timberwolves, right around the time when it was announced that Jayson Tatum won the NBA’s Eastern Conference Player of the Week.
Despite their new lack of undefeated status, Tatum’s play should still be applauded, as he’s somehow managed to find another level this year. After making the All-NBA First Team last season, finishing top-five in MVP voting, and adding more talent around him this year (which should have theoretically decreased his individual production), Tatum got better.
But it’s not the fact that he got better that’s so intriguing. It’s how.
Last year, Tatum’s shot profile was an analytics-enjoyer’s dream: Threes and layups. He almost exclusively took above-the-break threes and shots at the rim. This year, he’s mixing in a bit of everything else.
Tatum’s getting into the post, he’s stepping in from the three-point line to attempt more mid-range shots, he’s more willingly driving to the basket and accepting contact, and it seems as though every time he touches the ball, the possession turns to gold.
Somehow, with three other players capable of scoring 20 points per game next to him, Tatum’s scoring average has remained the same, and he’s improved his efficiency. Tatum usually gets off to a hot start, as evidenced by the Player of the Week, but this time around, the production seems more sustainable.
Those were just a few of the main talking points from Tuesday’s podcast. Also featured were some hot takes about the early outcomes from around the league, Julius Randle looking absolutely lost for the Knicks, and the famous “Rat List.”