Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
“The biggest thing was my team did a great job of continuing to find me — but still inside the offense and it wasn’t forced. I think that was the best part of it.”
Though Davis would continue to apply pressure – first with a seven-point third and then a 16-point fourth – the Celtics continued their newfound love of moving the ball. Last night’s 23-assist performance was their lowest dish total in this six-game winning streak.
“I think everybody’s buying into what Coach is preaching,” Morris said. “Moving the ball, and the ball’s popping, and everybody’s getting their shots, and getting to their spots. And we’re defending at a high level right now and obviously lately our offense has been clicking. So you know our defense is gonna click when our offense clicks.
So last night was the Marcus Morris show–guy had 31 points and exemplified the sort of ‘next-man-up’ mentality that we’ve come to expect from the Celtics.
Down five players and coming off a game that dang near broke the Chicago Bulls, the team was ripe for a performance that would’ve been more in line with their earlier struggles. Such was not the case. The team won handily. It’s true that Anthony Davis feasted, but that was evidently by design.
Anytime a guy scores that many points I want to know whose lunch he ate… Did he eat his teammates’ lunch, or the other team’s? Davis pretty clearly got his points because the Celtics locked down just about every other guy on the Pelicans. I’m fine with a 41 point outburst that happens because one guy took dang near 40% of the team’s shots (Davis took 34 of the Pelicans’ 87 shots). If that’s happening, it’s probably happening by design.
With Baynes and Horford both out, it was pretty clear that the team’s weak spot was going to be on the block against Davis. Stevens sent rookie Robert Williams out early to cover Davis, and Williams acquitted himself rather well, blocking a couple shots and generally being enough of a pest that Davis had to work for his points.
But the theme of this dump is patience… And patience was highlighted in a number of ways last night.
- Stevens gave Robert Williams 26 minutes of run, much of that against Anthony Davis. Against Williams and Theis, Davis shot 50%, scored 41 points, and went to the line nine times. In a vacuum, that looks like a pretty poor performance by the Celtics’ front court defense. However, Stevens plainly wanted the Pelicans offense to be limited to that obvious mismatch at center, and he wasn’t going to yank players who did a credible job keeping Davis honest.
- The team logged 23 assists on 37 half-court baskets. The Celtics had 44 total made baskets but something like 7 made baskets off the break. Like Morris pointed out in the quotes above, the team has gotten much better about moving the ball on offense and patiently waiting for that extra pass that breaks the half-court defense. The strength of the Celtics is their depth, but the best way of taking advantage of that strength in half-court sets is by keeping the other team’s defenders on the move. If the Celtics’ fourth and fifth scoring options are credible threats from deep, or capable of moving well without the ball, eventually they’re going to be wide open. And if a guy like Marcus Morris is feeling it; moving the ball away from him is likely to result in rotations on defense that give him a mismatch he can exploit if and when he gets the ball back.
- Stevens stuck with Jaylen Brown despite a couple of huge blunders at the end of the second quarter. I’m still on the Jaylen Brown bandwagon. He’s a driven guy on the court. And Stevens obviously still trusts him. He stuck Brown back in the game early in the 4th quarter and left him in there. Brown hit the court with five fouls, scored 8 of the Celtics’ final 21 points, and helped keep the Pelicans at arm’s length.
Page 2: Where we check in with the hospital Celtics
“I think it’s what’s best for our group, for our team, long term,” said Horford before missing his second straight game with patella tendinitis. “I don’t want to have to keep dealing with this, and the question marks, game after game. I just have to listen to what the training staff and the doctors are telling me. I have to buy into that plan.”
While Celtics coach Brad Stevens said the team “might go slow” with Horford when it comes to the discomfort he’s been dealing with off and on for nearly a month, Horford talked about the injury more in terms of days than weeks.
“Moved a little bit (pregame),” Horford said. “Still not where I need to be. Right away, I could tell. But it is much better than two days ago.
“Hopefully, a couple of more days and we can put this behind us.”
Horford said strength work around the knee and treatments, along with some rest, are the steps he’s taking to try to prevent a recurrence of the injury.
It just wouldn’t be the Celtics without some sort of nagging soft-tissue injury to talk about, and in this case, it’s “patella tendinitis”, which is a fancy way of saying that Horford’s knee hurts. Anytime you see “-itis”, it means something’s swollen, and pretty much anytime there’s swelling it’s because something’s damaged or infected (or, in the case of allergies, your body thinks something is infected). Obviously, the stress of games and practices was interfering with Horford’s recovery process, so the team’s shut him down until the healing process gets farther along.
Finally: We check in with the other hospital Celtics
From Robert Williams:
“I got to Maine in the morning when we had shoot-around,” he said. “I went to the shoot-around. Then I left, got some food, and as I was getting some food (the expecting mother) texted me. So I had to turn around and drive right back here.”
The Celtics–when they ain’t going to the hospital because they’re hurt, they’re going to the hospital because they’re having kids.
The rest of the links
MassLive: Anthony Davis-Celtics rumors: It’s easy to see why Boston covets Pelican big man and why he’d want to be traded | ‘He’s going to be a beast’: Boston Celtics rookie Robert Williams impresses against Anthony Davis, Pelicans | Jayson Tatum, Terry Rozier reprise playoff roles in Boston Celtics win over New Orleans | Anthony Davis heard Boston Celtics crowd cheering for him, but ‘I’m just focused on this team’ | Boston Celtics defeat New Orleans Pelicans 113-100: Robert Williams shines, plus 10 things we learned
Boston.com: Robert Williams impresses in coming out party with the Celtics | Celtics rookie Robert Williams had a very good excuse for missing Thursday’s game | What Anthony Davis said about his reception at TD Garden | Depleted Celtics top Pelicans 113-100 for 6th-straight win
Providence Journal: Celtics 113, Pelicans 100: With stars missing, Marcus Morris pours in 31