Rapid Recap is designed for the busiest of Celtics fans. Whether you can’t stay awake to read 10 paragraphs or your hangover is just too much, Rapid Recap tells the timeline of the game in only a minute or two.
Could the Boston Celtics have a little win, like as a treat? Against a New Orleans Pelicans team down three of its key players (Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors and J.J. Redick) and still waiting on the imminent return of Zion Williamson, the Prince Who Was Promised?
As it happened, they could, as Jayson Tatum reached a new career high: 41 points on 73% shooting (plus 6 boards, 4 dimes and 3 steals); offensively speaking this was certainly his show.
But the win itself—a 140-105 bird bloodbath—had as much to do with the whole squad taking the lessons of their last three defeats to heart, drastically improving their ball movement, defense and overall engagement. The victory was sealed well before Tatum decided to go for 40.
The first quarter started very much all-Tatum-all-the-time from a scoring perspective (he had but the box was a little misleading, as the team was definitely clicking in a way they hadn’t been during this recent losing streak. Good passing, clear communication and closely synchronized defensive possessions were the orders of the day.
It certainly wasn’t bad at all.
Marcus Smart, after two uneven games (and one stellar performance in an unfortunate loss), was eager to get in on the fun:
But as implied earlier, the immense success of the quarter belonged to the wing unit of Tatum/Brown/Hayward, who shined as scorers and ball movers:
With NOLA relying entirely on Brandon Ingram for reliable offense and not enough defensive support from Lonzo Ball (and a shallow frontcourt of only Jaxson Hayes and Jahlil Okafor; both eminently exploitable by Enes Kanter and Daniel Theis), no wonder Boston closed the frame with a 41-24 lead.
After that things escalated quickly—in a good way for the Celtics:
But the real story of the first half was Tatum, playing outstandingly on offense and doing fairly well to limit Ingram and Josh Hart on the other end:
72-57 at the halftime buzzer.
Within the first few two and a half minutes of Q3, Boston immediately added 11 points via intense fast-break plays, in what would ultimately be a 14-2 run by the 9:00 mark. This was a team well aware of its recent lapses and not looking to give NOLA any breathing room to come back.
Kemba with the JOKES:
After that, it was a matter of playing out the string and emptying the bench. Here’s something pretty cool from that garbage stretch: