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Every Day I Wake Up And Thank God For Bringing Jayson Tatum Into My Life

When you start to get close to the end of a West Coast trip, wacky things can happen. We saw it happen the last time this team went out West, and I feel like Portland is one of those arenas where over the years it's been tough place for the Celts to play. Obviously with no Kemba and Dame this was always going to look a little different, but as we know it's very important that you win on the front end of a B2B, especially when the second game is in UTA. I know the Jazz are down right now, but that's still a tough arena to play in. Coming off the brutal loss to the Lakers in their last game, I was interested to see how this team responded. Would they let that bone job snowball into a streak and basically ruin this entire trip? Or would they respond like they have all season, come back out and have a dominant win so we can keep these good vibes going.

I think we got our answer.

Listen nobody is going to argue that the Blazers, at least the version we saw last night, are really all that good. This is a game I expect the Celtics to win even without Kemba. The talent level of the two rosters available last night was definitely in the Celtics favor. But going on the road and beating teams you should beat isn't exactly always easy. You look around the league and the best teams take care of business against lesser competition. In a sense that's all this was, but in another sense this was about the two Jays continuing to blossom into fucking monsters. That's right, I didn't just say one Jay, I mean both.

It was a late game so maybe you fell asleep, in which case I would advise you to keep reading.

The Good

- I know I'm maturing as a person because I've been trying really hard to hold back and be patient with what we are seeing from Jayson Tatum. Even this morning I'm still not going to say he has arrived as a superstar because.....he hasn't. We can't be liberal when it comes to that term. That's reserved for the best of the best in my opinion. But what we're seeing is every time he steps on the floor he is inching closer and closer to that becoming our new reality. Over the last like two months we're getting a glimpse of what Superstar Tatum can ultimately look like and I have to tell you, its' pretty fucking unstoppable.

The numbers are stupid. 35/5 on 14-22 shooting with 8 3PM in 34 minutes. Zero FTA and a team best +22. It was pretty clear from the jump that Portland had no defender on the roster who could even come close to staying with Tatum, and the best part is we're seeing him have this type of production without taking a billion shots. Nothing seems forced, his production is coming within the flow of the offense, and this is a ride right now that I never want to get off

This is getting silly. How many guys make their first All Star team and then immediately take ANOTHER leap like this? And not just the type of leap where you get this type of performance once in a while. This is every goddamn night, regardless of opponent. One of the major parts of taking that next step is consistency, and Tatum is displaying that in spades. He was massive in the fourth with 14 points on 5-7 shooting including 4-5 from deep, this coming off his 12 point third quarter, which means he accounted for nearly half of their second half points (26 of 62). That's big time stuff. 

But then there's the defense. Holding CJ McCollum to 2-5 shooting, the blocks, no Blazer scoring more than 4 points against him, we are seeing Tatum continue to develop as a legit two way monster and it's a big part of why his season feels so different this year. The offense and shot making is awesome, nobody can deny that, but the commitment that he's also showing to be an elite defender at the wing position is what unlocks everything.

- Tatum has been so good, I fear that people could maybe forget just how awesome Jaylen Brown has been this season. That's the beauty of the Celtics situation right now, the two Jays are flourishing in all the ways we hoped they would. As impressive as this stretch from Tatum has been, Jaylen has been playing at an All Star level himself basically since the season started and the way they are feeding off each other is making my heart sing

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24/7/2 on 8-19 for Jaylen, 5-5 from the FT line, solid defense and an offensive bag that continues to grow with each opportunity. It was Jaylen who exploded in the second quarter with 12 points on 4-8 shooting to help this team get some separation before the half, and with no Blazer scoring more than 3 points against Jaylen you have to be pretty happy with how he's defending these last two games. More than held his own against LeBron/AD and then again was solid last night. His defense hasn't been as lock down as previous seasons, but if he can get that to come around as well, the defensive tandem of Jaylen/Jayson is a problem. 

But nothing Jaylen did on the court was my favorite part of his night. That came after

I'm not crying you're crying. They love each other. They want to see each other succeed. It's so refreshing and I'm sorry but this mindset plays a gigantic role in what we are seeing from this team. It's the exact opposite of the vibe we had last year which is why it's no surprise the team's performance is also the exact opposite. This team is built on love, and love is a powerful thing. 

- I could go all day

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- I may not know much, but I know this team becomes pretty impossible to beat if they are going to shoot 47/48% with 19 3PM and turn it over only 14 times. Oh, and winning the rebounding battle, not missing a billion FTs, and never having a quarter under 28 points. We knew the Blazers defense was pathetic, so it was good to see the Celts dominate offensively like they did.

- For example, they took their first lead with about 4:40 left in the first quarter. The game was never tied from that point on, they never lost the lead, none of it. That's the good stuff. 

- As bad as Brad Wanamaker was against the Lakers, and he was baaaaaaaaaaaaaad, last night was a solid outing for him no question.

Wanamaker is confusing because when he's bad it's really bad, but when he can come in and give you this sort of production on good efficiency, you see why Brad trusts him. If this is the version we can get night in and night out, the bench issues aren't as concerning. That's the big question though because without it the bench has nothing. 

- I love Brad Stevens' transition into the Bad Boy of the NBA. Back to back games with techs? Brad Stevens?

the league is not ready for a testy Brad Stevens. No more Mr. Nice Guy apparently and I could not be more excited. 

- Shoutout Marcus Smart for guarding CJ McCollum for 22 possessions and holding him to 2-7 shooting. Him and Tatum were great on CJ all night, he finished 10-24 and with no Dame if you're able to cut off the head of the snake like that the Blazers simply don't have enough firepower to keep up. That's exactly what happened.

- Speaking of Marcus, another classic Smart performance. Loved his 14/6/3 on 4-16 shooting and +14 in 30 minutes. He'll never make sense, the way he started this game was a disaster, and yet because he's Marcus Smart he still let it fly with confidence, made a bunch of threes in a row to settle the Celts down, and over the course of the game did all the little things that help a team win. It's why you have to just love and trust him with your life and whatever happens happens. 

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The Bad

- We're at the point where I need someone to give me answers as to what Daniel Theis did to earn this dogshit whistle. I'm at the point where I'm convinced he's banged the wife or significant other of every NBA official and this is their payback. There is no other explanation that a player who has been good all season and isn't a rookie repeatedly gets boned like Theis does. It's almost like the officially need to be told that hey you know what? Daniel Theis can play. You may not know because he's not a big name, but wake up and watch a game for me one time. It's starting to get ridiculous.

- As solid as Romeo has been on the defensive end, we haven't exactly seen the same sort of situation with his offense. It feels like he's rushing his threes a little bit, and now that he's getting legit second unit opportunities we need to see him be able to give something on the offensive end. Especially if there is no buyout scorer coming.

- Felt like maybe Hayward should have gotten a little more action, taking only 7 shots. Like maybe flip Smart's and Hayward's FGA. He was 5-7 and felt like he had his own matchup advantage, but he didn't really get the ball. I'd much rather him take 16 and Smart take 7, especially in games Kemba isn't playing. 

- It'd be great if the Celts came out and didn't start games going 0-5 or whatever. They were very fortunate the Blazers missed some wide open dagger threes early or this could have been a 13-0 lead within the first 2 minutes. Have to start better than that.

The Ugly

- For the Celtics to be able to utilize Gordon Hayward's playmaking, he has to be a billion times better with the ball. These last two games he's been real sloppy, another 5 TOs last night, and him having the ball in his hands has shown to be such a weapon when he tightens that up. It does give me a little concern because if he's this careless in a playoff series it's going to be a big time problem, and a lot of them are due to him dribbling in traffic or just losing the ball with his handle. That can't happen.

- After Tatum hit that big time three in Whiteside's face, the Celts sort of let their foot off the gas a little bit. Didn't love giving up 36 points in the fourth quarter, and to be up 19 but then only win by 12 tells me they were coasting over the second half of the fourth. That's dangerous and is a habit I want no part of. You get that massive three I want this team to step on their throats even more, but defensively they definitely coasted until the final buzzer. I'd bet everything I own Brad gave them hell about that.

So here we are, with the final game of the trip tonight in Utah. Much like the Blazers they are a bit down at the moment, but you know coming off their embarrassing loss against PHX the other night that they will be ready to bounce back. That's another arena that the Celts have issues in, but if they're able to end this trip at 5-2 and rest up until HOU on Saturday my brain is going to go to dangerous places. I cannot wait to see how Tatum/Jaylen perform against this defense, and obviously Hayward returning is always a big storyline. We've learned a lot about this group over this 8 game stretch and it's getting harder and harder to contain my excitement about what could potentially be their ceiling. 

All I know is as long as Jayson Tatum exists, this team is going to be just fine.