1. Everything is wrapped up for the Boston Celtics, as far as the regular season goes. Boston clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference Playoffs by virtue of their victory over the Toronto Raptors. The Milwaukee Bucks also won, which took the top seed off the table.
That’s where things had been trending for a while now. So, it’s not really anything to cry over. It is what it is.
The good news? Boston is healthy as they’ve been all season as the playoffs approach. That more important than seeding is. Having everything sewn up will allow for Joe Mazzulla to really manage his guys over the final two games of the regular season.
2. Malcolm Brogdon turned in another major effort off the bench. For stretches of this game, he carried Boston’s offense. Much like his ballhandling contemporaries on the team, Brogdon has figured out how to use Rob Williams as a screener. Brogdon catches the handoff here before quickly snaking back around Williams for the pullup three:
If you blow a coverage, Brogdon is a good enough passer to pick you apart, as he does with this pass to Derrick White:
This is a playoff type of shot. Boston pushes in transition and with the defender laying back, Brogdon pulls up for the triple:
We’ve talked about it before, but Brogdon is that “other” guy who can bring offense when the Celtics main guys don’t have it going. This one ended a stretch of about five minutes where Boston didn’t hit a shot from the field, and it broke a tie after a Raptors run:
3. Because we see it on a near-nightly basis, it’s easy to forget just how athletic Jaylen Brown. Toronto is one of the more athletic and long teams in the NBA, but Brown had several plays where he was just on another level from the Raptors.
This looks like Brown is just walking it up into a set, then next thing you know he’s laying it in:
Here, Brown outruns most of the players before powering over the rest:
Gary Trent Jr. is a pretty good on-ball defender. No issue for Brown, as he slides by him with ease:
Then, after he’s overwhelmed with his athleticism, Brown can finish you off with his smooth fallaway in the paint:
4. Derrick White put together another good game. White does his best work in transition, and it’s usually a good sign when the transition triples are dropping:
It’s always good to see White pick up some additional playmaking duties when other guys are out of the lineup:
And here’s your regular reminder that All-D-White is the best rim-protecting guard in the NBA:
5. Rob Williams looks good physically, and you can see his timing is coming back on both ends too. This is an element that only Williams brings among Celtics players:
On its face, this isn’t anything special. But if you watch Williams all the time, you know he almost always kicks this out. It was great to see him finish off this roll himself:
6. Mike Muscala did a wonderful job playing the Al Horford role in this one. This side-step three against a good closeout got him started:
Because he’d already made some other shots, Muscala was trusted to take another big one late in the game:
It might not come up in the playoffs that Boston needs to play Muscala. But if they do, this is what they got him for.
7. Sam Hauser had a poor shooting night. But he did a bunch of other helpful stuff to help the Celtics when he was on the floor.
Make enough hustle plays like this, and the missed shots are forgotten really quickly:
OG Anunoby, welcome to Hauser Island:
8. There was nothing remarkable about Grant Williams stat-line, but he made some eye-catching plays. The first was this block on Fred VanVleet:
Williams has started to shoot it better again, so he’s drawing those hard closeouts. He’s gone a really nice job adding some craft to his finishing, which lets him get all the way to the rim like this:
9. Another game with solid minutes from Blake Griffin, who it appears is going to make an impact in the playoffs, one way or another. This is outstanding defense to block Jakob Poeltl’s jump-hook:
Marcus Smart was out, so Griffin took on the role of the passer finding Jaylen Brown cutting for the backdoor dunk:
10. As mentioned above, there’s nothing left to play for this regular season for the Celtics. The guess here is that the regulars will see some time against Toronto on Friday night. Then, with everything wrapped up, it’s probably a deep reserves night against Atlanta on Sunday.
It’s about getting to the postseason whole, but without too much rust. That’s why we’ll probably see most of the team get some action on Friday.
It’s down to it now, and the last two games are stress-free from stakes. We’re almost to the good stuff.