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Jayson Tatum Has A Career Night, The Celtics Win Again And The Entire City Has Tacko Fever

What a way to kick off Hanukkah. For those who may be unaware, at 20-7 on the season the Celtics currently have the 3rd best record in the NBA. That sounds good on its own, but then you factor in that they also have the 6th best offense, 4th best defense, and 3rd best net rating all while missing key rotation players and you damn right I am going to be on cloud nine this morning. So what if we're just over 30% of the way into the season, this team fucks and there is no point in denying it. Sure there is a LONG way to go, I still want to see how they look on the road against good teams, they most definitely still have flaws they need to figure out, but how can you look at their body of work so far and not be thrilled. The Jays are flourishing, Kemba has been better than advertised, their interior defense has surprisingly been not that bad, we're getting actual Tacko minutes and the ensuing domination. 

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Just like with Detroit, nobody is planning a parade because they beat the lowly Hornets, even if they are a little pesky. But good teams take care of games against bad teams, and at 13-1 against teams under .500 we are seeing a Celtics team that doesn't really play down to it's competition. Talk about refreshing. They didn't panic when CHA came out and went 7-10 from three. They took their blows and punched back 10x harder and that means way more to me than the final score. Not getting down on themselves and forcing things offensively is what this team needed to avoid a year like last year and so far we haven't had any of that bullshit.

So if you're stuck working today for some reason, let's dive in and talk about what we saw.

The Good

- Maybe this is a little weird but honestly I could give two shits. I felt like a proud parent watching Jayson Tatum have the best all around night of his professional career. This was me. 

That's not weird. You're weird if you didn't. And notice I said all around game and not just offensive performance. That's because Jayson is taking a leap in both areas. His offense is getting so much better, I don't give a fuck about his efficiency I know it stink but use your eyes. Combine that with an even bigger leap defensively and Jayson is looking like the franchise player we need him to be

39 points, 12 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 steal this was about as complete an effort as you'll see from anybody. The fourth quarter was where things really got you hot and bothered, his 22 points in 9 minutes was simply ridiculous, fuck you threes left and right, defensive plays left and right, there's a reason Tatum is one of the best fourth quarter players on this roster and it's been that way since he entered the league. He had a 59% usage rate in his 9:52 in the fourth quarter and honestly it felt a little low. 

This was one of the few times I'm OK with someone taking 29 FGA, because when you are feeling it like Tatum was in this game, I want him taking every damn shot.

- But let's not forget about Kemba. Facing his old team we got a nice little efficient 23/4 on 8-16 shooting including 5 more 3PM. The good news is he finally saw the ball go through the hoop after his rough DET outing, and his TOs came back down to earth with only 2 after the 7 he had the other night

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My favorite part about Kemba is he's a quiet assassin. What I mean by that is you see him score throughout the game, but it doesn't really hit you he's having another 20+ point outing. You look down and you see 23 on good splits and it's just normal. The quietest 23 you'll ever see but extremely deadly. 

You also love the fact that he couldn't care less that he only took 1 FGA in the fourth quarter. He was perfectly happy watching and supporting Tatum's career night. 

- The Celtics won the rebounding battle 57-27. I want you to read that sentence again. Do it. OK now do it again. That's a real thing that happened.

They also won the points in the paint battle 56-44, the second chance battle 16-2, the fast break battle 10-2. Who are these guys I have no idea but I would like them to continue with this sort of production.

- Of course this wasn't just a case of one Jay playing well. Just like the Pistons game we are getting a level of play from both Jays that should have every Celtics fan rock hard about their future

Just a casual 16/9/5 on 7-14 shooting for Jaylen. We know about the dunking and the corner shooting, but how about the improvement from Jaylen as a playmaker? Is it really possible to deny how much better he is seeing the floor and reading defenses? I don't think we've seen Jaylen pass like this at any point of his career. He's already tackled improving from the FT line, and him being a competent passer is what is going to take his game to another level. No longer just a black hole who gets the ball and puts his head down, Jaylen is becoming an all around player. 

The patience he continues to show on drives has made a word of difference, he's more in control and he's more confident in his game to the point where he knows Brad isn't going to pull him the first mistake he makes. You combine that with the security of his new deal and it's no surprise we are getting the best version of Jaylen we've ever had.

- People need to understand the love for Tacko isn't a gimmick. We are not laughing at him or anything else. HE. FUCKING. RULES.

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Stop trying to deny it, there is something valuable with Tacko and the more he improves and develops he is going to be a legit force. I mean just watch that shit! You can't stop him on one end, he's too massive. Just run P&R every single time and throw it to the rafters where only he can get it. Then on the defensive end, you want rim protection? How about a 7'6 dude leaping up and snatching shots straight out of the air. I know these are limited minutes against bad teams, but that's all I need from Tacko! Brad has been so good with this when it comes to Kanter, you only give Tacko minutes in short spurts before he can hurt you. We've now seen him in back to back games and it's then same story each time. His talent is real and this is not a fluke.

- Remember all that bullshit about how Danny Ainge couldn't draft? Well, it's super duper early but it sure looks like he absolutely nailed the 2019 Draft

Another very strong game from Grant on both sides, he continues to do all the little things that is going to earn him minutes and now guess who can shoot threes. Grant is like 5-8 or something great like that from deep over his last few games, and we already know what he brings defensively and with all the Marcus Smart like hustle plays. It makes me so happy to see him play well because he has a real opportunity to be part of this rotation. Also, shoutout his mental toughness to not let his early shooting slump get him down. That's huge.

But then there's Romeo. Oh Romeo you beautiful bastard. Nobody had any idea what to expect since nobody has seen him play basically at all, and holy moly we may really have something here.

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he hit a couple threes, had another very strong game defensively, and Brad talked about it after the game how valuable it is that they can play him minutes and know what he is going to bring on that end. That's the one key to Brad's heart, you show him that he can love and trust you on defense then he's going to give you minutes. I'm not sure what I expected from Romeo in his first NBA minutes, but I know what we've gotten is 10x better that I hoped.

- After their hot start the Celts did a great job holding CHA in check. They shot 61/70% in then first quarter and then ended the night at 40/29%. They scored just 37 second half points and didn't have a quarter with more than 21 after their 37 point outburst. Part of that is them, but the other part is the Celtics showing a defensive intensity that had sort of been missing lately.

- Enes Kanter might be the best rebounder this team has had this decade if not longer. 

- 36 points for the bench. 36!!!!!! That may not seem like a lot to anyone who doesn't follow this team, but given the fact that they are 27th in bench points at 27 a night, that was a nice little Hanukkah present and without it we probably don't get Tacko minutes so that makes me even more thankful.

The Bad

- For all the good he does on then glass, we're sort of in a rut offensively with Kanter. He's having some big time issues around the rim which honestly is a surprise to see. His jump hooks are short, he's getting shit blocked left and right, just dunk it man you're a freaking giant. Another 3-7 for him, he is going to have to find a way to be a consistent second unit scorer as long as Smart/Hayward are out.

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- I know he had a career night, but Tatum does need to still work on keeping his emotions in check when he doesn't get a call even if he was very clearly fouled. You know what refs don't do? Reward players who show them up publicly. It's the one thing I hate that Tatum does and it's only getting worse. I know it's probably frustrating when he gets boned at home, but when does that stuff ever work out for him?

- Celts only caused 3 TOs last night. Considering they caused like 25 the game before, that felt a little low.

- A weird off night for Theis. I'm not sure why this was a tough matchup for him but Biyombo gave everyone all sorts of problems. Bismack Biyombo. That's pathetic.

The Ugly

- We really couldn't get any Carsen minutes? Really? I desperately wanted to see a Carsen/Romeo/Javonte/Grant/Tacko lineup and I don't see why we weren't given that opportunity. That was the only thing missing from this blowout win, a couple Carsen threes to let the crowd go nuts, is that too much to ask Brad?

- Honestly though, did nobody read the scouting report on Devonte Graham? Holy shit. I know they turned it around but their perimeter defense was again a problem to start this game. How many times do they have to see someone light them up from deep before they figure it the hell out? Not every team will be CHA and blow things, but every team seems to be shooting lights out from deep against this defense. Have to clean that up.

So, 3 in a row, 7 of their last 9, this team is rolling there is no question. But things are about to get a whole lot tougher in a few days against the Raptors, who even without their own key rotation players are riding a 5 game winning streak and just came back from 30 against the Mavs. The early Christmas game is a bitch and it makes it even worse that it's up in TOR, a place where the Celts haven't won in what feels like forever. I'm also not positive Kanter will even be able to make the trip so that's a little concerning. But in the meantime, enjoy this win, enjoy how this team looks and let's have ourselves a nice holiday break.