This is the second game this season the Celtics went into overtime, and oddly enough, the first was when they faced the Clippers in LA. Eventually the Celtics came out on top in this one, sending Kawhi and Doc home with their 18th loss. This game was a great way to head into the All Star break. Once again it was a team effort that brought the win, but a few guys really stood out.
There’s not a Celtics fan alive that could praise Danny enough for drafting a young Jayson Tatum. He showed amazing promise his rookie year, and has developed into one of the best offensive player of his class. Last night Tatum dropped 39 points, 21 in OT. He bullied his way through the paint at times, and hit the 3 when the team needed him to. He flirted with a double-double, but ultimately fell short by one rebound. He will go on to defend his Skills Challenge Title this weekend and play in his first All-Star game. We can all expect great things as he returns to the court, including leading Boston to the NBA Finals.
What a night for Gordon Hayward. It’s so great seeing him be the player we all knew he was. He and Tatum both played 47 minutes, the most of anyone on the roster, and Gordon should be praised for what he did. He did more than flirt with the double-double, he took it home. He had 21 points and 13 rebounds. He was 6/6 at the FT line and was a +18 for the night. Gordon was slow getting started offensively, but more than made up for it with his playmaking. In typical fashion, Hayward would make the right play, shoot when he had the open look, and the results speak for themselves.
Arguably the best defensive player in the NBA today, and certainly worthy of DPOY, Smart stole the ball four times during the game, had three assists, four rebounds and dropped 31 points. There’s no way the Celtics would be where they are without Smart’s grit and defensive prowess. Kawhi Leonard was only 1/6 from the 3PT line, and had a -8 rating while on the court. Not many teams can boast holding a player like Kawhi to that type of game, and it’s mostly due to Marcus. There’s no doubt Smart has developed into a reliable shooter, holding the teams most threes in a game should silence any doubters. And if not, there’s still 28 games for us to enjoy watching him make the winning plays and draining even more 3s.
Kemba had a fantastic 45 minutes on the court, nearly going home with a triple double with a 19-9-7 game. Known best for his shooting abilities, Kemba is thrilling to watch. But what he’s beginning to bring defensively should excite fans even more. For a 6’0″ point guard it can be difficult to guard anyone, but respect should be given for the way he can take a charge. The late game charge he took gave Boston the ball, and stopped LA from increasing their lead. It provided a time out as Doc challenged (unsuccessfully) the call and gave Brad time to draw up another play. His leadership is exactly what Boston needed this year, and hopefully he’ll get his first championship title soon. We all can look forward to seeing him start Sunday night in Chicago, and bring back that energy as he and the Celtics finish out the season.
As we revel in the win, and look forward to All Star Weekend, let’s continue to expect great things from our Boston Brawlers, and as always, let’s #bleedgreen.