Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
By the fourth quarter Brad Stevens’ timeouts carried a bit of an edge. After calling a timeout following one of Zach LaVine’s multiple dunks, the Celtics coach walked out onto the floor to gather himself before heading into the huddle to straighten things out.
Despite a 22-4 second quarter run that seemingly blew the night open, it was that kind of night — the sort the Celtics coach occasionally found wanting despite his team’s 113-101 win over Chicago.
But all-told, with his team back on track with two straight wins after losing three straight, he accepted the result.
Last night’s game wasn’t quite the laugher that we saw on Saturday, but it was in some respects a better win.
As Stevens observed after the game:
Credit (Chicago), they are a hard team to play against. If you take your foot off the gas for even a second offensively, they’ll turn you over and turn it into points.
The Bulls are not a very good basketball team. They have not been for quite a while now.
However, as Stevens points out, they aren’t going to go gentle into that good night. The Bulls are good enough to keep the C’s on their toes—to punish sloppy and lazy play. However, they’re not good enough to require the C’s to put forth maximum effort to win.
Last night they functioned as the basketball equivalent of a good sparring partner. They highlighted a few areas the C’s need to work on in advance of Thursday’s matchup against Milwaukee, but they didn’t push Boston to the absolute limit and the C’s won comfortably.
It was a night of weird stats. Kemba Walker hit three of his six three point attempts, but the rest of the starters were a combined two for nine. Jaylen Brown hit all nine of his free throws and Gordon Hayward turned in a positively Marcus-Smartian stat line of 6/8/8 and +14 (second highest on the team after Jaylen Brown).
Jaylen Brown, by the way, is now shooting FTs at a 78.5% clip for the season, and after the game he said he wants to finish the season above 80%.
Page 2: Where Gary Payton likes Marcus Smart’s game
Gary Payton was possibly the best two-way PG in NBA history.
I’ve most often compared Marcus Smart with Dennis Johnson–another big physical guard who didn’t care about anything besides winning, who let his stats fall where they may, and who was elected first team All-Defense six times and second team another three times.
Gary Payton, by contrast, was selected to the NBA’s first team All-Defense nine times and scored over 21,000 points. Payton toiled in relative obscurity for most of his career. He played for the Supersonics back when they were, well, kind of like the Houston Rockets today: Fun to watch on occasion, given to torching teams in the regular season, but somehow or another never quite getting to the top of the heap. Combine that with playing in a small market and a lack of a big shoe deal and you get a guy who was way better than people remember him being.
Finally: Grant Williams makes a deal
The only way Grant Williams could be better is if there were two of him.
The rest of the links
MassLive: Jaylen Brown expects to be 80-percent free-throw shooter by end of season: 7 things we learned from Celtics vs. Bulls | Boston Celtics rookie Grant Williams shows defensive growth, offensive decision-making (video) | Grant Williams promises to dye his hair pink if Boston Celtics get 3 All-Stars | Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown lead Boston Celtics over Chicago Bulls 113-101 as Celtics claim second in a row | Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens uses his own ‘fear factor’ as part of All-Star voting process