FINAL: Boston: 135 Indiana: 108
I’ve thought about this for a while but I think it’s finally time to say it and have complete confidence in it. The Celtics are back. They’re more back than they’ve ever been and I don’t think I can overstate how back they actually are. Alas, we have a game to dive into here and let’s get in there headfirst.
To start off, they scored 135 points and shot 56.8% against the second best defense in the entire league based on points against (103.1) along with defensive rating (103.4). That is quite the feat and the Celtics were getting whatever they wanted on the offensive end. 7 different players scored in double figures and they had 30+ assists for the 5th straight game including 8 from Al Horford.
They’ve been playing at a high level offensively as of late and things are starting to click into form like we thought they would when the season began.
Another promising aspect of tonight’s game was how little Kyrie had to do as everyone else carried the load. He had 12 points on 5-9 shooting as the rest of the team was on fire and their performances gave Kyrie the opportunity to conserve some energy with a back to back on the horizon. It wasn’t that Kyrie wasn’t effective, it was that he didn’t need to do everything and it was a nice thing to see. The bench alone had 73 points and 4 of those 7 players in double figures came off of the bench.
Look at this bench production and you can easily see why leaving Gordon and Jaylen on the bench could be the best thing for this team.
When the starters get tired the Celtics can simply swap out someone like Tatum or Morris for Gordon Hayward/Jaylen Brown and they don’t lose anything in terms of talent. It’s quite the luxury to have and when you factor in the presence of Terry Rozier, and some solid play lately from Daniel Theis, the Celtics have one of the best benches, if not the best bench in the NBA.
Speaking of Jaylen Brown, he was fantastic tonight as he was tied with Marcus Morris for the team-high in points with 22 on 7-12 and made the most of his minutes. He looks as comfortable as I’ve seen him in quite some time and it looks like he’s figuring out his role in the offense. When he comes off the bench he is able to get more opportunities based on the amount of talent usually around him when he’s on the court. The Celtics lean on him when he’s in the game and he’s taken that opportunity and given them an asset off of the bench.
Terry Rozier had a nice night for himself as well posting 12 points 5 boards and 5 assists as he hit a couple of impressive threes in the third while the Celtics stretched their lead out. He had one of those games where he reminds us why he was being touted as a starting point guard in this league last postseason.
Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis rounded out the solid bench play as they continue to show off the chemistry they’ve established this season. They play well together and Hayward’s made some of his best passes on the season with Theis being the recipient.
Even though I thought Jayson Tatum had still been playing solid basketball overall lately, he hasn’t been scoring at an efficient clip (9.8 ppg on 35.6% and 23.8 3%). He changed that tonight as he started off 5-5 from field with 11 points and ended up finishing with 20 points and 4 rebounds on 9-15 shooting. Just look at this move, he was in his bag all night and he rebounded nicely after a few tough games shooting wise.
This move was something as well.
Marcus Morris continues to plead his case for the League MVP award (at least if you ask me) as he dropped 22 points on only 8 shots along with grabbing 8 rebounds. His step back and overall set of moves has impressed me this year on top of his hot shooting touch. Look at how much space he creates on this stepback.
While most Celtic fans (including myself) have just thought Morris would end up elsewhere this offseason, I’m really starting to think this man might be back next year. I’m not sure what sort of a contract he’d be looking at on the open market (at this rate I’d assume between 12-17 million and like 3 years) but if the Celtics can find a number that works for them, I think it’s a real possibility.
We even got to see some TimeLord as he made some LOUD plays in garbage time, including this absolute spike of a block.
Like what… I have never seen anybody on the Celtics in my entire lifetime that blocks shots as violently and as effortlessly as that. KG used to have his fair share of highlight reel blocks but these from Williams have been special. The best play of the night came in garbage time as we got this gem as the fans were going crazy in a 30-point blowout.
It was a good night in terms of rest as nobody played more than 29 minutes and Al only had to log 18 minutes. He was able to take a load off of those knees for a night with a game tomorrow night in Miami. 4 straight wins and just like that the Celtics are 25-15 and only a game and a half behind Indiana for 3rd in the conference. They’re on the up and up, and it doesn’t seem to be stopping any time soon.