1. The Boston Celtics can be a weird team. Not exactly breaking news there, are we? But this particular point is about how Boston is dominant on the second night of a back-to-back and really good when they have the normal one day in between games. Yet, entering Wednesday’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics were just 3-7 with two or more days in between games.
Well, let’s just say this one went a different way.
Boston was up 46-16 after the first quarter. The only item in question over the final 36 minutes was how many the Celtics would win by.
Yes, the Nets were missing Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons and others. But that’s not a 43-point difference. The Celtics came out focused right from the jump, never let off the gas and demolished the Nets. For those counting at home, Boston is 7-0 in their last seven games against Brooklyn dating back to last year’s first-round sweep.
2. The Nets offered very little defensive resistance to the Celtics all game. The good news for Boston? They took advantage. There was no passive play out of the guys in green.
Jaylen Brown doesn’t get a lot of post-ups, which is something we’d like to see a little bit more of. On this one, Brown used the quick spin to get to the paint. Brown could have finished this himself, but he left it for Rob Williams to hammer home:
In transition, Jayson Tatum hit Nic Claxton with the crossover to get downhill for the layup:
Another transition trip, another crossover from Tatum. This time Joe Harris was the victim:
The first rule you learn about defense, especially transition defense, is that someone has to stop the ball. Derrick White wants to kick this out to Tatum or to lob to Williams. When no one bothers to stop the ball, White just takes it in himself:
3. Jaylen Brown was feeling good in the first quarter. That’s kind of been his thing this season. You know he’s got that feeling when he starting pulling up for three-pointers.
Maybe it was Brown beating him with that spin move early, but Joe Harris lays back in transition here, so Brown lets it fly:
Usually, it’s Kyrie Irving hitting guys with the sweet dribble-move to get a shot. Brown gave Irving a taste of his own medicine here:
Royce O’Neale isn’t even that far back here, but that half-step is all the space Brown needed:
4. The best part of basketball is when the ball moves and the team is clicking together. One of the best parts of that is when a teammate gets set up for a shot and the very next time down the floor, they repay the favor.
Brooklyn was super small all game. They wanted to put their best available wing defender, Royce O’Neale, on Tatum or Brown. That meant a small had to guard Al Horford. That was pretty regularly Kyrie Irving. Horford didn’t overdo it and try to overpower Irving with help lurking. He drew the defense and kicked it out to Jayson Tatum:
On Boston’s next trip, Tatum worked an off-ball action to start things. When he got in the paint, he repaid the OG with the kickout pass:
5. Jayson Tatum likely would have gone for 40, or maybe even 50, points had this game been closer. He was dialed in from the jump. We already showed you clips of Tatum getting downhill, but in typical Tatum fashion, he got it done in lots of different ways.
When Tatum gets an opposing big switch onto him, he often goes quick and drives the big. On this play, Nic Claxton is a step off because Tatum already drove him for a layup earlier. That allowed Tatum to rock into an easy step-back three:
The Celtics got the Nets in rotation a lot. On this one, Tatum remained patient. He stayed rooted to the corner and the ball found its way to him:
Cam Thomas has no chance here. Tatum toys with him a bit before driving for the floater, which has become a big part of Tatum’s game:
6. There’s one thing all of the above clips have in common. Have you figured it out yet? Every one of those plays happened in the first quarter. That’s how dominant Boston was on Wednesday night. A game’s worth of highlights in one quarter of action.
7. The second through fourth quarters were pretty much a snooze. Brooklyn never made a serious enough run to even give Boston much concern.
This play was emblematic of just how lost the Nets were. Day’Ron Sharpe has no idea this ball was even in play until it was going through the net:
8. By the time Jayson Tatum hit this one to cap off the first half, things were long-since over:
9. The Celtics were so good that Joe Mazzulla was able to empty his bench after the third quarter. He probably could have done it even earlier, but coming off three days without a game, it was good to let the regulars run wild a bit.
The fun part? The deep bench maintained the lead. At no point was there even a brief thought of having to sub any of the starters back in.
10. Boston’s light week continues with another home game against the Phoenix Suns on Friday. Phoenix will be without Devin Booker, as he’s likely not coming back until early next week. Then it’s a rare weekend off for the Celtics before a busy trade deadline week, where just as many eyes will be on what’s happening off the court as what’s happening on it.