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.
Celtics fans were dead-set on the Cs winning the penultimate game of this strange regular season for draft-pick reasons. Grizzlies fans wanted their squad better positioned for the all-but-inevitable play-in game(s?) and also just really needed a win. As far as stakes go, they were far higher for the Grizzlies—but without Jaren Jackson Jr. available, Memphis was in no shape to pull an upset. Aside from a few surges of Grizz team offense and Ja Morant playing one of his best games in recent memory, the Cs often merely toyed with them en route to a 122-107 win.
Jayson Tatum was a nigh-unstoppable offensive force, racking up 29-6-2-1. Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward were no slouches, both scoring 19 while the former added 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal, the latter 5 rebounds and assists plus a steal. Off the bench, Marcus Smart and Robert Williams both made the most of their minutes: SMARF with 11-3-9-1, Timelord with 10-7-1 plus 3 blocks.
It was a pretty slow game at the start, from both teams, until Jaylen decided to drop a bomb on ’em:
This young Grizzlies squad is rather different from the Grit & Grind era teams in most aspects, but they worked to keep this game’s pace fairly slow and in the half court. Doing so kept them from falling too far behind…but it also wasn’t their natural style.
The Memphis offense was also not unlike Grit & Grind, and not in a good way.
The margin at the end of 12 wasn’t gigantic…so the Celtics immediately got to work at making it gigantic.
And while Tatum was definitely leading the charge for the Cs, he also got plenty of help from starters and bench dudes alike:
Though Memphis started to show some fight in the final five minutes of the first half, there was only so much they could put up without Jackson Jr. in the ballgame to add a scoring punch.
With the Celtics turning defense into offense in such slick fashion (the Rob Williams block! the Western Gunfighter Hayward dunk!), it’s surprising the Celtics only led by 16 at the half—56-40 Boston. (Especially nice to see Kemba with double figures early. I have faith that he’ll be back to Cardiac mode in the playoffs, but the bubble games have not exactly been the easiest on him thus far.)
Boston kept their lead pretty firmly through the first half of the third quarter, but some alarming tendencies were on display:
And suddenly giant letters appeared in the air reading, “TRAP GAME?”
Good perspective from Dart. It also didn’t help that Jaylen was having his only bona fide meh performance of the bubble season thus far, and Hayward wasn’t looking too hot after his first-half highlights. But this and other issues weren’t enough to seriously endanger the Cs lead.
Not with ball movement like that, anyway, and with Williams playing with more controlled fury and less raw chaos:
Tatum was quietly On One again as well.
Enes Kanter coming back in the game meant that a Boston victory was almost certainly not guaranteed:
Sidebar: I sincerely think that in the offseason, Kanter will likely move on and that’ll be that. There isn’t any grand scheme behind why Stevens plays him—he’s trying to stagger minutes among the bigs, not somehow prove that Kanter isn’t the player we all know he is. The onus is on Kanter to change people’s perception of him in his time on the court, and if he won’t, he’ll likely be gone even if he opts in.
Moving right along, the synergy throughout the roster, as described below, was what really kept the Celtics ahead despite the Grizz surges.
Then there was an extremely brief, heart-swallowing moment:
Now if we want to talk actually inexplicable lineup decisions, I certainly wasn’t sure why the starters were still in the game with barely five minutes to go and a double-digit lead. Kemba I get, I guess; he’s still working back from the minutes limit. Tatum, Hayward and Jaylen? Not so much.
Oh hey, Carsen Edwards:
Kemba being on the court put this one definitively in the bag during the last five, though, with a flurry of jumpers and slick playmaking:
After that, the bench took over fully and that was a wrap.