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The Celtics Beat Another Team By A Billion Points And Look As Locked In As They Have All Season Long

Brian Babineau. Getty Images.

After watching the Celts blow out the Pacers in their first game back home after the West Coast trip, I titled that blog

"The Celtics Are Suddenly Back To Kicking The Shit Out Of Teams And It's Coming At The Perfect Time"

Well….

Giphy Images.

I get it, this is what should happen when a title contending team faces a tanking Spurs team who doesn't even have 20 wins on the season. I'm not going to sit here and throw a parade for beating the Spurs by a billion, but I mean let's not pretend like 44 point wins are all that common. In fact, it ties the Bulls for the 2nd highest margin of victory in the entire league this season, trailing only the 45 point win the Pelicans had over the Warriors on 11/21. If you were curious, the Celts own 2 of the 3 highest margins of victories this season at 44 and 43 points. Not bad!

At this point of the season, it's about winning the games you're supposed to. Looking around the Celts in seeding, the Sixers have currently lost 3 of 4 and play in DEN tonight. The Bucks are coming off a loss to DEN and have just a 1.5 lead over BOS before their H2H matchup on Thursday. These are the games the Celts have to win, and that's what they did. They came home for this little 2 game IND/SA stint and kicked the shit out of both opponents. There was no collapse, there were no blown leads, there was just execution.

3 weeks ago today, Grant Williams missed both FTs and the Celts dropped their 3rd straight. Many said the sky was falling, the Celts were screwed in the postseason because everyone else was playing their best and the Celts stunk, etc. 

Well…….

Since that moment, the Celts are 7-2. Only MEM has more wins, but they've played 2 more games over that span. The Celts own the best offense in the NBA at 121.6, the best defense in the NBA at 106.2, and the best net rating in the NBA at +15.3. So, if you go by doomer logic, I guess this means the Celts are back to being good? That perhaps, the sky isn't falling? The Celts stopped playing like assholes, got back to the approach that we know leads to wins, and here we are. It's honestly that simple.

As we know, these in-between games while important, aren't the big ones. The dates with MIL and PHI on the road are certainly much "bigger", but you have to win these ones in the meantime to keep pace. It means nothing if you win the games against the Spurs and can't beat the Bucks and Sixers, and I think everyone understands that. 

We'll deal with those games when the time comes. Until then, let's first talk about what we witnessed last night, because many of us haven't seen consecutive beatdowns like this at any point in our lives. I'm not being dramatic either, the Celts haven't done shit like this since the 60s.

The Good

- With Jayson Tatum getting a much deserved rest day, that meant that everyone was going to have to step up a little bit to make up for that missing production. Little did we know, Jaylen Brown put on his mask and decided he was just going to do it all himself. What a guy.

The raw numbers themselves are pretty stupid. Jaylen played 36 minutes in this game and finished with 41/13/3 in 3.5 quarters. He shot 18-29 from the floor and really that doesn't do it justice. Take out his 2-10 from three, and Jaylen was 16-19 from the floor. One of those misses was a tip in, so it had a chance to be even better!

That is a preposterous shot chart, but also exactly what I would hope to see from Jaylen in a game against a team without any sort of legit rim protection AND a game in which you need an efficient night from your star in order to make up for not having Tatum available. 

How big of a tear is Jaylen on you may be wondering?

We have reached the point where there is no logical explanation to keep Jaylen off an All NBA team. Whoever you think is having a better season, they aren't. This man came back with a new mask and completely morphed into a version of himself that we have only dreamed about. Look at this shit since he came back!

That's a cool 28.5/6.8/4.0 on 51/378% splits over his last 15 games. 

Giphy Images.

Last night, Jaylen made sure to establish himself early. He led all scorers with 15 points on 7-12 shooting, and it was very clear from the opening tip that the Spurs did not have the size or strength to prevent Jaylen from getting whatever he wanted. I can't say that's a surprise, but I love that Jaylen recognized it and did something about it. 

Coming out of the break when things were only a 10 point game and the Spurs were trying to make a run, Jaylen was there once again with a strong 10 point 3rd on 5-8 shooting. The next thing we knew the score got out of hand and we all could relax the rest of the way. I would like to personally thank Jaylen for that.

In the moment last night, I was a little annoyed with Joe that he left Jaylen in to get his 41, but then it hit me. Joe would do the same for Tatum. We've seen it. So, if the idea is the team needs to make Jaylen feel as though he's empowered in the same ways, then I think I like that he did it? Jaylen got his 41, he got his curtain call, and everyone's happy.

- If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times. Guard play is arguably the most important aspect of this team. When they get good guard play, the Celts reach a level that not many teams can touch. That's just a simple fact. When Smart, White, and Brogdon all play well and fill their roles to perfection, the Celts demolish whoever is in their path.

Last night was one of those nights

Outside of the very weird inability to make his layups this season, Malcolm Brogdon was nails off the bench in his 26 minutes. He was efficient at 6-12 from the floor, dished out 9 assists all while not turning the ball over, and I dunno about you but I'll take 20/5/9 and a +22 from your backup point guard. 

In his last 14 games, Brogdon is shooting 50/44% from the floor. He's healthy, he's thriving in his role, and he's giving the Celts exactly what they need.

With Derrick, what else is there to say? He's been fantastic not just this entire season, but I'd even argue he's reached another level as of late. He was the best guard on the floor in their previous two wins, and call me crazy but 19/8/2 on 7-11 (4-6) in 32 minutes and a team best +41 is pretty fucking good. A +41!!!

Add in 2 more blocks and 1 steal, I feel confident in saying that Derrick is having an All NBA Defensive season. You can't name 4 other guards who are having a better defensive season than Derrick White. You just can't. He leads all guards in blocks with 6X 5 more than SGA), he guards multiple positions, he leads all guards in the NBA in terms of contested FGA 30X). Add in the fact that now he's shooting that shit with confidence whenever he gets an open look (39% on catch & shoot 3PA) and you have as close to the peak version of Derrick White as humanly possible.

With Smart, he got tossed over who knows what in the 3rd quarter, but up until then he too was playing his role perfectly. Good defense, 13/3/4, and the right offensive approach. He's been pass/then shoot basically since the West Coast trip started and the results speak for themselves. Maybe part of it is his ankle is feeling better, maybe part of it is he realized he was playing like a gigantic dickhead and causing more harm than good, I don't really care. I just care that he's back to pre-injury Smart, because that guy is the one we need.

- Quick check on Mazzulla Ball if that's alright with everyone

Hm, maybe he does know what he's doing? All that talk about how the way the Celts play isn't sustainable….well it's basically April and we're still seeing them be effective with Joe's approach. Yeah, it came against one of the worst defenses in history. Am I supposed to give a fuck about that? 

The Celts are the ONLY TEAM IN THE NBA with a top 5 offense and top 5 defense. They are still in play for the best record in the NBA. Everyone crying for Ime when the Celts lost 3 in a row should be ashamed and embarrassed. Joe is that guy. Just accept it already.

- Basketball doesn't have to be complicated. If you defend and move the ball, good things will happen. With another game of 2 assists last night, the Celts now move to 22-3 when they have more than 28 assists in a game. The crazy part is until late in this game, the Celts weren't even really shooting that well from deep. Through the first 3 quarters, the Celts were only 10-32 which is under 32% from deep.

Then they went 76/66% in the 4th with 11 assists and won that quarter 41-16. Not bad!

- I don't care who you are playing, if in 3 straight games you allow 109, 95, and 93 points in today's NBA, that's pretty damn good. That tells me the team is not only facing some teams that may stink, but they are also finding their groove defensively. What also happened during those 3 games you might be asking?

Brian Fluharty. Getty Images.

Rob. Not only is Rob back, but he continues to look like the same old Rob. I'll take 11/8 in his 18 minutes last night with a block and you should too.

Not only are players now more hesitant to fuck around with the paint, something that was NOT the case while Rob was out, but you can see how important he is as a piece to their defensive puzzle. Cleaning up mistakes on the perimeter, being solid on the defensive glass, it should be no surprise the Celts got Rob back in the lineup and suddenly have the best defense in the NBA. 

I think at this point, bringing Rob off the bench might be the best fit moving forward, especially during these final few weeks of the season. Get him ready to play 30+ minutes in the postseason and we'll be cooking with gas. 

- It's hard for the Celts to lose if they are going to own the paint 62-46, 2nd chance points 12-4 and fastbreak points 29-8. Just a complete beatdown no matter how you slice it.

The Bad

- I know I'm the only one who cares about this, but this team is in a rut from the FT line. Another 6 misses last night to finish at 71.4%, this is sneaky been a bit of an issue for a while now. Remember, the Celts shoot 82% as a team on the season, and they are in the low 70s over their last 3 games. 

It'd be one thing if it was guys like Rob who were maybe missing, but it's coming from all their good FT shooters. Not a huge deal, just pretty annoying to be giving away so many points in what seems to be every game.

- It didn't matter and overall he was incredible, but Jaylen's 5 TOs were a bit too many for my liking. This was the first game in a LONG ass time we've seen Jaylen turn the ball over simply from trying to dribble, but even I can admit this may be stretching things for the Bad section. I mean they won by 44 fucking points.

- He finally pulled the plug at around the 6 minute mark, but I still thought Joe could have taken some guys out earlier. This was a 30 point game with like 8 minutes left. I don't need Rob on the floor in those moments. I don't need anyone from the top 8 of the rotation to be on the floor really. 

There was a time where I was hoping for blowouts so that I wouldn't have to sweat a 4th quarter, but now I can't be sweating 30+ point leads because I am terrified of someone turning an ankle or something. It's late March, play the scrubs!

- I actually really like Scal on the broadcasts, but the guy has to take it easy with these injury calls. He reacted to Mike Muscala jamming his wrist like it was a Gordon Hayward injury. He said he thought he broke his wrist! Naturally, Muscala went on to make 3 3PM, so I'm thinking it's not broken.

We can't be so loose with injuries like that while being this close to the postseason. My heart simply cannot take it.

The Ugly

- I dunno what to really put here, so maybe the fact that Kab was a DNP-CD? That's annoying. Give me the JD/Kab P&R! We all saw how awesome JD looked in his minutes, so why not give Kab the 5 minutes that Blake got? He was the only Celtic to not play and given how many lobs he would have caught, I consider that inexcusable.

- Smart getting two techs within a minute of each other for basically nothing is very embarrassing for Adam Silver and the NBA. Refs stay in their feelings I guess, but it wouldn't shock me if one of those gets rescinded today.

So here we go. Another trap game tomorrow on the road against WSH before the showdown on Thursday with the Bucks. If this team stays focused and takes care fo their business, then everything is still on the table for them in terms of the #1 seed. They've responded after their 3 game skid just like anyone who has watched them this year could have told you they would, and now the time has come to keep on building.

Love and Trust.