The Boston Celtics took care of business on Sunday afternoon against the Wizards after losing two in a row their last time out. Mostly due to playing spotty defense, the Celtics tightened things up on Sunday and look to build off this ahead of their rematch on Wednesday with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
First things first, the Celtics locked up Bradley Beal and held him to zero field goals through the midway point of the fourth quarter. Not to mention this is coming off a game in which they allowed 82 combined points from Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert in their last game. The defense looked fluid and somewhat sound for the first time since the first game against Philly, holding the Wizards to 21.9 percent from deep.
The team is starting to become more instinctive within each other and it was put on display multiple times in this game. Grant Williams had a beautiful drive-kick out to Jaylen Brown for an uncontested 3-pointer, earning an assist. And Jayson Tatum had a beautiful dime also to a cutting Malcolm Brogdon for a layup right before the buzzer.
This team is starting to mesh and it’s happening right before our eyes. In doing so, the Celtics were whipping the ball around the court and made 36 baskets on 29 assists on Sunday.
It was a great night for Jaylen Brown, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds, marking his 34th career double-double. He went 7-18 from the floor and made four 3-pointers and FINALLY connected on all of his free throws, going 6-6 from the line. It was a great game from Brown overall.
Jayson Tatum played well in the first half and didn’t do much after that. He finished with 23 points on 8-15 shooting from the floor, however, he scored 18 points in the first half, and a measly five points in the second half against the Wizards. And this is a growing trend as he did the same thing on Friday night against the Cavaliers when he scored zero in the fourth quarter and two points in overtime for a 32 point outing. The fast starts are great, but Tatum needs to find a way to be consistent throughout the entire game.
Luke Kornet is continuing to get minutes in as the primary backup center. He’s been one of the first to come in off the bench over the last few games and is doing what the Celtics need of him. He’s scoring at a minimum but he’s also setting plays up for his teammates on the offensive end. In fact, per NBA’s hustle stats, Kornet leads the Celtics with 2.8 screen assists per game. On defense, he’s shown to be somewhat intimidating to opposing offenses and we saw that against the Wizards but it’s been a progressively growing trend with every game he plays.
Some other notes I have on my mind:
Blake Griffin was the only player on the team who didn’t play against the Wizards.
Noah Vonleh’s usage has dropped a ton and Kornet is benefiting greatly from it.
Malcolm Brogdon player of the game. He needs to do more on defense but he’s been great running the show for the second unit.
Marcus Smart needs to take his time to take better shots. He’s been a spotty 32.7 percent from the field and a terrible 22.2 percent on 3-pointers.
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Photo Credit: Nick Grace, Getty Images