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The Hospital Celtics Continue To Do What They Do Best And Absolutely Kick The Shit Out Whatever Stands In Their Path

Kenny Giarla. Getty Images.

We have now reached the part of the NBA season where for the Boston Celtics, all that matters is health. They woke up today 9.5 games up on MIL for the 1 seed in the East and are 6 games up on OKC for the top record in all of the NBA. For some teams across the league, the final 15-16 games are still about jockeying for playoff positioning, but the Celtics are not one of them. Hell, it's been that way for a while now but once you hit mid March and your best players hit the 65 game limit, it's time for everyone to sit back and relax and let the Hospital Celtics do what the Hospital Celtics do best.

Dominate.

If you were a fan of what we watched last night, well then I have great news for you. A quick look ahead to the Celts' finish of the season and you are about to get a whole lot more Hospital Celtics basketball in your life over the next month

Last night, we saw Porzingis, Brown, and White all get the night off. Three guys that certainly deserve it and with the B2B today, my guess is we'll see KP/Al both sit, with one of the Brown/Tatum/White/Jrue group most likely joining them. There's a saying that in the NBA, you stack wins early so you can rest late, and seeing as how no team in the NBA has stacked more wins, the Celts have the rare opportunity to truly pick their spots and have their guys as rested and ready as you possibly could have before the playoff start next month. 

The beauty of this of course is the fact that over a full season, the Hospital Celts are basically a top 4 seed. You give them one of the Jays and then the bench and that's more than enough. Sure the Wizards are literally the worst team in the NBA, but I don't really give a shit. The Hospital Celts went ont he road, dropped 130 points, shot 24-50 from three, and it was yet another game in which the Celts had a 30 point lead.

Want to know something crazy about that? 

OK, what the fuck are we watching? I mean that might be the most outrageous Grande nugget of all the Grande nuggets. More 30 point leads than 10 point deficits through 67 games of a season?? How is that even possible?

Allow me to show you.

The Good

- If not for an unfortunate sprained ankle as a result from the Wizards bench, we would have witnessed Sam Hauser make NBA history last night. At the very least, Marcus Smart's Celtics record of 11 3PM in a game was cooked. We've seen Hauser enter a lot of insane shooting zones, but we've never seen something like this

What you just watched was one of the best shooters on earth. Fact, not opinion. Hauser in his 22 minutes finished 10-13 (10-13), and if you don't think he was breaking Klay's 3pt record of 14 3PM, I'm not sure what you were watching. It didn't matter how Hauser was taking his 3PA, some were open C&S, some were off screens and all of them were as pure as pure gets. 

Since the ASB, Sam Hauser is now shooting 52.2% from deep in his 12 games on 5.6 3PA a game. I am begging you, read that shit again. On the season, he's now matched his career high of 43.2% from deep, a mark he hit as a rookie in 2021-22. His 3 years in the NBA?

2021-22: 43.2% on 1.7 3PA

2022-23: 41.8% on 4.2 3PA

2023-24: 43.2% on 5.5 3PA

So when I say Sam Hauser is one of the best shooters on earth, I am not being hyperbolic. This man has never had a sub-40% NBA season in his life, and his percentages are getting better as his volume increases. Do you know how insane that is? 

What you usually tend to hear next is that none of this matters because Hauser won't be on the court in the playoffs, and I'm not so sure that's true. For starters, his spacing is important. But aside from that, Hauser's defense is way more than passable. Even if you think he'll be targeted, Hauser Island has held his own this year in isolation defense, coming in at the 59th percentile holding opponents to 0.90 PPP and 40% FG%. To put that into perspective, the All NBA-esq defensive season of Jaylen Brown, especially on ball, comes in at the 57th percentile in isolation defense. Not only that, but Hauser has been a sneaky good rebounder this season, and it's pretty clear Joe trusts him, seeing as how his 21 minutes a night are the highest of his career. 

But even if he doesn't play big playoff minutes, this last month is all his (as soon as he's back form his ankle sprain). There should be no reason why Hauser isn't getting 10 3PA a game for the rest of the way, because why not? Now is the part of the season where you can treat him like he's a Splash Cousin and seeing as how all the Celts do is generate open looks, my guess is we'll have a few more performances like last night.

- It has my brain and heart in a bit of a pretzel that the very thing I love about Jayson Tatum (he always plays) is now the one thing that terrifies me most about Jayson Tatum (he always plays) as we enter the final month. I know this isn't our first rodeo with this stuff, and Tatum has time and time again told us why he refuses to ever sit

which is extremely refreshing to hear from a player of his status in the league, and it's been this way since Day 1. It's also extremely terrifying given how important of a playoff run we're about to experience, and I guess the middle ground is Tatum plays, dominates, and then gets an early exit

30/6/6/3/1 on 8-17 (6-12) in just 26 minutes of Tatum, to me this is the perfect way to handle his refusal to rest. Not only are his minutes short, but he's living behind the line working on his 3s. 

Did you know that on the season, Tatum is up to 36.1% on his pullup 3PA? Since we got to 2024, that number jumps to 41.2%. Since the ASB, that number is 40.0%.

People understand what a big deal that is correct? If Tatum's pullup is dropping at a 40.0% clip, there is no way to defend him. It used to be you could bait him into that shot, and it would be a low percentage option. Now? For the last 3.5 months? It's as deadly a weapon as you'll find in the NBA. When Tatum is making his 3s off the dribble or his side step pullup, you know he's truly locked in offensively. The beauty in that is once a defender tries to take that shot away by getting too close, Tatum simply uses his speed and size to get his shoulders low and the next thing you know he's at the rim. 

Would I love if Brad Stevens bullied Tatum into getting a rest day here and there over the next 15 games? Yes. I am begging at this point. But as long as Joe understands that the days of 40+ minutes are over for Tatum this season outside of a few select matchups I can deal with it. He's too important to fuck around at this point of the season, with the lead the Celts currently have over the rest of the league.

- Another quick update on Mazzulla Ball for all who observe

Again, there were about 65+ points of offense on the bench in this game. 60% of the starting lineup did not play, and here we are once again with another 130 points on 49/48/83% splits with another game of 30+ AST. This isn't just a Wizards issue, this is an any team that plays the Celtics issue. If they are going to shoot 50 3PA and continue to flirt with making 50% of them, there is nothing you can do. You're not going to match that volume/production unfortunately. We saw it against the Suns and we saw it last night. When the Celts are shooting like this, trading 2s for 3s isn't going to cut it, and if you also can't shoot 3s (WSH shot 29.4%) you're even more fucked. 

- One of the best parts of this season when it comes to guys thriving and taking a leap in their role has to be the development of Payton Pritchard as more of a point guard than just being an off ball elite shooter. Before it felt like he was a 2 guard trapped in a PG body, and that was an issue because of his size. But now? This version of Payton Pritchard? This is the point guard I think we were all waiting to see develop

Watching him it's pretty obvious to see where the improvement is coming from. Now, Payton attacks the paint and has his eyes up. His ability to get past defenders, keep the ball low and then find the easy lob to Kornet has changed everything about his role on this team. He's still the elite shooter and floor spacer, but now he's actually running the offense. He's creating for others. When was the last time you saw Pritchard attack the paint, get stuck, and just hold onto the ball and spin around until the shot clock expired? Now, everything seems MUCH slower for him, his ability to read the floor looks so much better, and his chemistry with the bigs is undeniable.

On the season, Pritchard has put up an 18.0% AST% paired with only an 8.9% TOV%. That's his 2nd best AST% and the best TOV% of his entire career. And if there's one thing that more than stands out when you watch Payton play is the fact that regardless of situation or team, this man competes his dick off. That may as well have been Game 7 of the NBA Finals given how hard Pritchard was playing last night, and to me that's showing respect to the Basketball Gods. Playing the right way, not fucking around and disrespecting the opponent, all that stuff leads to wins. He said as much after the game too

Just like with Hauser, this final month of the season is the time to let Payton cook. It's hard to find a backup point guard in the league who is this solid, and there are going to be moments where the Celts are going to need Pritchard to come through in their playoff run, so getting him in a rhythm now makes a whole lot of sense to me.

- Al Horford is perfect. Just wanted to remind everyone.

- OK, I am about to show you two tweets that I am warning you now, are very erotic. They are going to cause your brain to go to VERY dangerous places, and I'm here to tell you to not fight it. Embrace it. Let the Green Kool Aid flow through your veins, because holy shit.

OK, ready? Here's the first one

What is so special about this picture? Well, the 2017 Warriors, 1996 Bulls, 1971 Bucks, and 1972 Lakers, all teams who hit at least a +11.4 scoring differential, ALL won the title. Every single one of them. Given the Celts' schedule, it would not shock me if we see them continue to climb this list, which is yet another reason why you should take a minute and appreciate what we are witnessing. It's one of the greatest teams in NBA goddamn history.

That's tweet #1. Are you ready for #2?

Giphy Images.

This has to be the year. It just has to be. I'm not sure my body can take it not being the year. All year the Celts have done shit on the court that all throughout NBA history translated to them winning the title. I cannot live in a world where through 75+ years of NBA history, the Boston Celtics are the only one to have these historic numbers and not win the title. At this point, I am begging.

The Bad

- OK, what do we even put here considering this was a game in which the Celts never trailed and had a lead as high as 36 points? Chances are you didn't do too many bad things in a game like that, so it's a bit of slim pickin's.

But if I had to choose something, let's just go with what remains my biggest playoff concern. Opponent OREB. The Wizards finished with 10 OREB for 15 2nd chance points, and while it obviously didn't matter when it came to the score, it's still a trend that we know the Celts have been pretty poor with over the last 3.5 months and is absolutely something that will hurt them in a playoff series.

- Whatever you think Jaden Springer may be able to give this team, understand that we are still VERY far away from him being ready. I was interested in seeing him get some legit minutes (16), and frankly I don't really think he did all that much besides foul and turn the ball over. He's a project type player and last night was a good example why. Even against the end of bench guys for the Wizards, I wouldn't exactly say that Springer separated himself which is fine, but it's a reminder to keep your expectations on him in reality.

If anything, his value is more in regards to his $4M contract than as a player, which again is fine. I do hope we get to see more of him (and Walsh) over the last month, just so we can continue to see what Brad sees. My gut says it's more about having a salary on the books you can flip for a better $4M player (Banton made the minimum), but maybe there's more there.

- While I absolutely love his energy and his tenacity on the offensive glass, it remains astonishing how much of a lack of buckets there is in Oshae Brissett's game. Every player has his flaws, and it feels like putting the ball in the basket with any type of jumper seems to be Brissett's. A 1-5 (0-3) last night, none of his looks were all that close, but his energy was what led him to a 5-6 showing from the line, so that's a positive.

But if you were to ask me who should get the playoff rotation minutes between Oshae and Hauser, I think it's pretty obvious where Joe should go. I do believe Brissett will snag a HUGE offensive rebound at some point in a playoff game, but to me that's where his role stops. Energy and OREB. If you need him to make a bucket, you better start praying.

The Ugly

- As is a rule in this blog, once you get to 5 wins in a row, we take this section off, as a treat.

Did you know the Celts now have 6 separate streaks of at least 5 wins in a row? When we talk about consistent dominance, this is what that looks like

Not bad!

With the Pistons tonight, the hope is we can have another early night for everyone as we prepare for the much more important showdown with the Bucks on Wednesday. Not important in terms of standings, but important in terms of my ability to talk shit on Twitter, which at the end of the day is all that matters over this final month. Both teams will be rested, both teams will be motivated, so get out of tonight's game injury free and let's have ourselves a showdown in a few days.