Celtics 2021 took it to the undermanned Lakers from the start. and that39;s a .
Celtics Celtics … took and it to Lakers the undermanned from the start, that's a
Fri, 16 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
The past three games were an example of the Celtics' potential when they are focused and totally engaged
LOS ANGELES — The Celtics are finding that they make their lives so much easier when they come out of the starting gate focused and prepared.
Such was the case Thursday night at Staples Center, when they jumped the Lakers early, racing to a 14-2 lead and leading the rest of the way for a 121-113 win, their fifth straight.
Far too often this season, the Celtics have started games meticulously or with a porous stretch that creates a big deficit.
And while they have had the fortitude to rally, it often has resulted in defeat.
Against the Lakers, Jaylen Brown was simply magnificent with 40 points, and his teammates whipped the ball around the floor to get the best shot.
The Lakers aren’t themselves right now.
They have been decimated by injuries, with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the bench Thursday dressed casually, as they recover from theirs.
But this was a game the Celtics had to win, the easiest matchup of their three out West.
Perhaps if it were earlier this season, the Celtics don’t come out focused and end up in a real tussle with an inferior opponent.
This time, that wasn’t the case.
The Celtics never trailed, and it became hairy only when coach Brad Stevens thought a 27-point lead was safe and inserted the end of his bench, which allowed a 22-2 run (more on that later).
But the best part about this win, one that thrust the Celtics into a tie for fourth place in the Eastern Conference, was the prowess of Brown, who was 17 of 20 from the floor, including an admirable halfcourt heave to end the third quarter.
Brown’s April has been as impressive as Jayson Tatum’s.
Brown is averaging 24.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, and shooting 44.8 percent on 3-pointers.
The most encouraging aspect of this recent stretch is that Tatum and Brown have reasserted themselves at the perfect time.
“Just wanted to come out and be aggressive,” said Brown.
“Celtics-Lakers is a matchup that kids dream about.
Regardless of who’s on the floor, I’m excited to play.
The energy having those Lakers fans back in the arena, we just wanted to go out and get a win.”
The Celtics are finally approaching full health.
Evan Fournier is the only regular who remains out, and it’s uncertain when he will return from COVID-19 protocol.
The regularity and familiarity of the past few weeks has been the primary reason for the resurgence.
It was a relief for Stevens that the Celtics surrounded Brown with balanced scoring but also got the ball in his hands on a night when he was nearly flawless.
Five other Celtics scored in double figures.
The only detriment in the blowout win was turnovers.
The Celtics committed 21, keeping the Lakers in the game until an early fourth-quarter run extended the lead to 27.
Stevens decided then that the starters were done for the night; Tatum and Marcus Smart did not play in the fourth quarter and Brown scored two buckets in the opening minutes before leaving at the 9:13 mark.
A pressing concern all season has the lack of depth on the bench.
The third-team reserves couldn’t score, and then couldn’t defend as the Lakers went on that 22-2 run to slice the deficit to 7 with 1:50 left, forcing Stevens to reinsert his starters.
The lead shrunk to 5 before Brown added two buckets to seal it.
But the performance of the quintet of Tremont Waters, Carsen Edwards, Aaron Nesmith, Moe Wagner, and Semi Ojeleye altered what should have been an abbreviated night for the starters and a stress-free flight back to Boston.
The Celtics will have to assess whether they can trust any of those players to contribute down the stretch.
They can get away with going nine or 10 deep, especially when Fournier and Robert Williams (who missed Thursday with knee soreness) return.
But that stretch could be even more evidence that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge needs to retool his bench in the offseason.
And Celtics faithful were again uttering the name of Isaiah Thomas as an option after he was not signed to a second 10-day contract by the Pelicans this week.
The hope is that the Celtics’ top 10 players are jelling so well that the final seven won’t see the floor much.
The past three games were an example of the Celtics’ potential when they are focused and totally engaged.
Except for a shaky first half against the Nuggets last Sunday, the Celtics played three strong games, relying on their stars but also getting key contributions and performances from the complements.
The Celtics are an Eastern Conference contender yet, but it’s trending in the right direction.
Gary Washburn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow him on Twitter @GwashburnGlobe.
Fri, 16 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
Brad Stevens had one word to describe Jaylen Brown's performance against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night: “Unreal
” So unreal that it made Boston
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Brad Stevens had one word to describe Jaylen Brown’s performance against the Los Angeles Lakers Thursday night:
So unreal that it made Boston Celtics history.
Brown erupted for 40 points while shooting a staggering 17-of-20 from the field, as he led the Celtics to a 121-113 victory at STAPLES Center.
In doing so, he became the first player in franchise history to log a 40-point game while shooting at least 85 percent from the field.
The All-Star wing led the Celtics out of the gate on a 14-2 run in the first four minutes, scoring all but four of those points himself.
As an NBA history buff, it was exactly the type of energy and performance he had hoped to provide for the Celtics in the latest chapter of the greatest rivalry in all of basketball.
“I just wanted to come and be aggressive,” he said after guiding Boston to its fifth straight win.
“Celtics-Lakers matchup is a matchup that kids dream about.”
This dream lasted for several hours, as Brown became the Lakers’ worst nightmare.
He remained consistent throughout the contest, logging 10 points in the first quarter, 11 in the second, 10 in the third, and nine in the fourth.
Brown was nearly perfect from 2-point range, as he shot 14-of-15 from inside the 3-point arc.
His lone miss came on a pull-up jumper 87 seconds after tip-off, after which he shot 13-of-13 from inside the arc.
JB was efficient from beyond the arc as well, as he knocked down 3-of-5 from long range.
However, it’s worth noting that one of those misses came on a full-court heave to beat the third-quarter buzzer.
On top of all that, he also converted all three of his free-throw attempts on the night.
“He just stayed hot,” said Stevens.
“I think that he’s done a good job.
Tonight, he was really dialed in scoring the ball.
You’re not going to always shoot as well as he did tonight.
Obviously, that’s like once-a-season type numbers, usually.
But he’s had a great year and he continues to get better, and tonight was the night that he got going and we tried to ride that as much as possible.”
The greatest indicator of Brown’s impact was his plus/minus rating.
With him on the court, the Celtics outscored L.A.
by 36 points.
But during his 14 minutes on the bench, the Lakers held a 28-point advantage.
His +36 rating was more than double that of any other Celtics player; Luke Kornet was a distant second at +17.
Brown not only played a key role with the starters, but also with the second unit.
The combination of him, Kornet, Romeo Langford, Payton Pritchard, and Grant Williams dominated the Lakers late in the third quarter through the early part of the fourth, as they turned a 10-point lead into a 27-point advantage.
In the process, the other starters were able to sit back and relax a bit before being brought back in during the last couple of minutes to seal the win.
“I thought [Jaylen] with the second unit separated the game,” said Stevens.
“It allowed us to get some rest for those other guys.
He was great tonight, and I can’t say enough good things.”
Not many words were needed to describe Brown’s performance, as he let his play do most of the talking.
The only thing that needed to be said about his historic effort was that it was simply unreal.
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