Celtics

Plus: Stopping Thunder in transition (easier said than done) and more.

Oklahoma City Thunder ranger Shai Gilgeous-Alexander throws himself into the basket against Boston Celtics ranger Derrick White. AP Photo / Charles Krupa

The Celtics took a heavy victory of 126-122 on Monday, beating a slow start to beat the energetic young Thunder team.

Here’s what happened.

Great photo

Thunder shocked the Celtics early on with a high-octane offensive that led them to a 35-point first quarter and a three-point lead. The Celtics couldn’t find coverage from around the arc and Oklahoma City’s lead grew to a menacing 69:62 at half-time.

The Thunder were the best third quarter team in the league this season and of course they increased their lead to 15 during this period. But the Celtics finally woke up as the period ended at both ends and began to spin the Thunder repeatedly. Meanwhile, Payton Pritchard’s five-point confusion limited the lead to the much more manageable 96-89.

In front of the electrified crowd, TD Garden Celtics managed to get closer, level the game and finally take the lead. Two huge three – one each by Marcus Smart and Derrick White – and Smart’s layup sealed the deal in the last minutes.

Game Star

Marcus Smart: 22 points, 8v12 throws, 1v2 for 3 points, five rebounds, seven assists.

Smart has flirted with this designation in the last few weeks, organizing big assist and low rotation forays, but Monday was a masterpiece as he scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. The Celtics would have lost Monday’s game without him.

What does it mean

The Celtics have to play defense to defeat teams when they can’t score three points. They are also a seasoned, seasoned team that can win when needed. It took a lot of grinding on Monday to solidify the Celtics’ victory for the seventh consecutive row.

Takeaway

1. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 27 and 26 points respectively, but the Celtics got a huge boost from their roles. We mentioned above Smart who buried some big shots and made a comeback with his defense. Derrick White did the same with 16 key points, five assists and four steals. A Pritchard episode at the end of Game Three put the Celtics in position to complete their comeback.

In a team that is often a superstar, the Celtics have shown they have a knack for winning when neither Tatum nor Brown scored 30 points. Meanwhile, Tatum (1 in 9 out of three) and Brown (0 in 5), showed that they were throwing enough points into the pot to buy a win, even if they couldn’t find a range behind the arc.

2. The Celtics really struggled to slow Thunder down for three quarters as Thunder surpassed them 44-30 by pushing the ball out of rebounds (per Synergy Sports). This was one of the biggest differences in the fourth quarter – after scoring 15 points, 11 points and 13 rebound points in the first three quarters, Thunder only managed to score five points in the fourth.

3. Jayson Tatum picked up a technical at the start of the third quarter for clapping.

Players are not allowed to clap at the judges, but the replays made it clear that Tatum was not really clapping at the judge – he didn’t even look in the direction of the judges when he did so.

The league could take a look at that call and cancel it, which will make a difference later in the season if Tatum – known to deal with technicians here and there – finds himself against the league cap at the end of the season. Kevin Durant he certainly thinks they should. So or I Morant.

4. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a true superstar – the type of player the franchise hopes to win over with Draft. On Monday he burned the Celtics for 37 points in a 13v26, a crawling, skinny player who can score goals in many ways and finish with finesse.

Gilgeous-Alexander could pull Grom out of his rivalry for Victor Wembanyama on his own, which would be quite ironic given how blatant Grom was as a refueling team – a No.11 pick pulling a squad that was otherwise structured to lose as many games as possible against the chance to draw the player who best represents why teams are crawling.

5. The Celtics might have won a little more comfortably had they missed 10 for 37 from a range of 3 points (27 percent). In the first three quarters, the Celtics were only 6 out of 27 from deep (22.2 percent), finishing 4 out of 8 in the last quarter.

When the Celtics can’t score 3 points, they have to defend themselves to win. They defended long enough – about 15 minutes of game time in the second half in total – to do so.

The Celtics head to Atlanta to seek their eighth consecutive victory over the Hawks on Wednesday at 19:30

We’ll have more takeaways tonight.

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#heroic #actions #Marcus #Smart #Celtics #win #Thunder #takeaws

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