Well would you look who did it again. Once again we learned that the Celts were going to be down 3 of their top 6 guys, so what do the Hospital Celtics do? They win comfortably over another current playoff opponent. That now makes it 8 wins in their last 9 games with 6 of those wins coming against playoff opponents. All while having multiple main rotation players injured. This isn't some sort of streak where you are beating up on the BKN/NYK/CHI's of the world, the Hospital Celts are beating legit opponents and I am inching closer and closer to declaring that the ship has been righted since the 2-6 skid last month.
Factor in that Brad played 4 rookies last night with 3 of them playing over 10 minutes and two of them playing over 20 minutes, and I don't care who you are playing, it's impressive to win like they did last night. The defense was swarming, the Jays were fantastic, Hayward continued to be his consistent self and looked like October Hayward. This team is rolling at the moment and then you remember they get to add Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart to this equation. Times are good, that's for sure.
I know everyone is going to be glued to Twitter with the deadline today, so let's dive in because I have just the thing to keep your mind off all the trades Danny Ainge isn't going to make.
- No brainer to kick us off. Jayson Tatum put this team on his back and when it came time to step on the Magic's throat and close this game out he showed up with 13 fourth quarter points, dagger three after dagger three and had a pretty beautiful all around performance to the tune of 33/8/5/3/2 on 11-24 shooting with 5 3PM
Not only that, but he also led the team with 7 FTA which honestly might be my favorite part. The step back threes make the blood rush to my dick, but his recognition of when to get to the line and the All Star whistle he's now getting is what warms my heart. The two of those things are what Tatum needed to add to take his leap to superstardom and while he isn't there yet, he's starting to knock on the door. Remember, he's 21 years old and this is what we're getting. How that couldn't make you irrationally excited I do not know. Maybe call a doctor because you might be a dead person.
The you factor in what he's doing on the defensive end, he held Terrance Ross to 2-5 shooting, he's active everywhere on that end, and it's why his potential as a legit two way monster isn't all that far fetched. The crazy thing is Tatum can still get better! He is by no means a finished product and this is already what it looks like. We are now up to 7 straight games with at least 20 which makes him the youngest Celtic to do that since Antoine. Tatum's leap year is everything I imagined it would be and then some.
- Please, take a moment and let's all have a moment of silence for the Gordon Hayward haters of which there are many. Fucking morons. He's only back to being one of their best all around players, he's doing it on a consistent basis and really has been since January, and with your two primarily facilitators out of the lineup Hayward showed everyone why he was BORN to play in this system. Who knew playing through an elite playmaker would work? Wild.
There is simply no denying that this level of Hayward, the one we had in October and the one we've had for the last month or so, raises the Celtics ceiling. You're starting to see why they went after him in the first place, because he's sort of perfect for how they play. He's back to being efficient, his midrange game is automatic, that little turnaround jumper he uses is unblockable, and he gives you a little bit of everything. Here's the crazy part, he only had a 20% usage! Literally everyday you hear people who clearly don't watch say that Hayward is taking from Tatum/Brown despite all the evidence in the world suggesting it's the exact opposite. Both the Jays had higher usages last night, both of the Jays had more FGA, but for some reason people still want to harp on the idea that they can't all play together.
I dunno, Hayward tossing up 23/7/7, Tatum 33/8/5 and Jaylen 18/5, all on good splits seem to be able to coexist. That trio is the best trio of any combination the Celtics have played this season, the numbers back it up, the eye test backs it up, so please let that stupid sports radio narrative die. It's not true, it was never true, it's never going to be true. Having three do it all wings is actually an ADVANTAGE in today's NBA, not a hinderance.
But please, tell me more about how they should trade him for Steven Adams or Andre Drummond you idiots.
- Speaking of do it all wings, while I sit here and pray to the fucking Gods that Jaylen's ankle is OK, distract yourself with another guy that seemed to get wherever he wanted and rumor has it is under investigation for murder after putting MCW into the ground
Watching Jaylen the one area where I feel like we're seeing drastic improvement is how he consistently unleashes that midrange jumper off the dribble. It feels like he's making that shot way more, especially with guys in his face. That's important because defenders are so concerned about his driving ability, the fact that he sees that little pocket of space to unleash his jumper is key. I wanted to look it up to see if my eyes were lying to me and this is what I found.
This season Jaylen is shooting 45.5% on midrange jumpers. That's up from 38.6% last year and 39.5% in 2017-18. That's drastically different and just goes to show you the type of offensive development we've seen from Jaylen over the last handful of years. He's already showing such better patience on his drives, his handle is a billion times better, and now he's about as legit off the dribble into the midrange as it gets. Oh and he's 23.
- I thought Romeo was rock solid in his first NBA start. They weren't asking him to do anything crazy, just play defense and play with energy. That's exactly what we saw and the fact that he went 3-4 is just a bonus. This is not the first time we've seen him show some legit signs on the defensive end, and it's all found money considering this team doesn't need much from their lottery pick right now.
We all know the way to Brad's heart is through defense, and it makes me wonder if Ainge doesn't make a trade but Brad gives Romeo real minutes, isn't that the same thing? Is there anyone out there that has a higher ceiling? We don't know about his shot yet, but at the same time if you can give this team legit defensive minutes off the bench maybe that's more important.
I really hope this wasn't just a showcase for a trade, because I am more than intrigued by what Romeo can do.
- I often get chirped that Ainge messed up by drafting Grant. That he should have just kept Thybulle and Clarke or whatever. I feel strongly that the same people who tweet me that also cheered last night when Grant crushed his minutes for like the 5th straight game
You know I love a good Grande tweet, especially when it fits my narrative so I'll just leave this here
Combine that with good defense, all the intangibles in the world and a great attitude? Hmmm maybe Ainge knows what he's doing after all?
- What do I always say, it comes down to defense and rebounding. Well the Magic shot 42/41% (31/36% in the second half), had 17 TOs, and the Celts won the rebounding battle 41-39. They also dominated in the paint 50-34. They handle these areas and it's no surprise they keep winning.
- Don't ask me to explain it but since January 1st Brad Wanamaker is shooting a higher percentage from three than Kemba. His three point shooting has been huge in the last handful of games, and while he can be frustrating at times, it does feel like he's getting back to being that consistent 8-10 point player off the bench.
- Since the Lakers win when this run first started, the Boston Celtics have the #1 rated defense in the NBA, the #3 offense in the NBA, and the #1 net rating in the NBA. Again, they have 6 wins against current playoff teams during this stretch.
That feels related.
- Having a game with only two refs because one got injured was brutal.
- It is a little annoying that whenever they play the Magic, the worst shooting team in the league, they always allow them to start off guns blazing. It happened in their previous game a few weeks ago and it was more of the same last night. ORL started off 50/50%, and then 57/50% in the second quarter. For whatever reason they cannot guard Evan Fournier or Terrance Ross and you would have thought they learned something from the previous matchup.
- Feels like Carsen is getting a little restless, and seeing as how he was the only DNP-CD this RT didn't shock me
- The luck of Jaylen spraining his ankle with 1 minute left in a game that was already won pretty much sums up their season. Also, his three point shooting hasn't been all that great so far in February after shooting like 37% in January so I'm going to need that to come back.
- Only 47 seconds of Tacko wasn't anywhere close to enough.
- If you've been reading this blog you know, once we get to 5 wins in a row (which we are at), this section gets skipped as my token of appreciation. Rumor has it this is what motivates them once they get close so you can thank me for my service.
With ATL up tomorrow things get a whole lot tougher before the All Star break with OKC/HOU/LAC on deck. This team is building all the momentum in the world so it'll be interesting to see if they overlook ATL. Classic trap game. Show me you can handle that one and then it's time for the big boys of the West before the break. Shit doesn't get any easier after the All Star break either, so this is where we're really going to see what this team is made of. So far? It's been pretty fucking good.