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.
Jayson Tatum and Stephen Curry are stars at any point in a season, but recently both have been almost flammable. It was little surprise, then, when the two began trading big shots in big moments throughout Saturday night’s showdown between the Celtics and Warriors at TD Garden. For much of the game, it seemed as if whichever of the two had the ball last would have the best chance to secure a win.
But in the end, Tatum received some assistance while Curry did not, as 3-pointers from Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker in the game’s final 75 seconds helped propel Boston to a 119-114 win. The Celtics, who overcame a 16-point first-half deficit, have won six games in a row, a season-high.
“Our guys have done an incredible job of staying together,” coach Brad Stevens said. “And when that happens, and then you get a little momentum, then you have a tendency to respond when you don’t feel great. And so we have a little bit of momentum from, you know, we’ve been down 14 in Denver, 17 against Minnesota, down in every game. So I don’t see us really worrying about that and I see good results.”
What a game! I’m still on a high. Look, I wasn’t particularly thrilled with the lack of defensive intensity over the first 24 minutes. But given that two of the Cs better defensive players (Rob, Jaylen) were missing and the team was coming off a successful western swing, I was willing to cut them some slack.
And then Jayson Tatum eased all of my worries. He was absolutely spectacular. And… he got help from his teammates exactly when he needed it.
Tatum is so much better when he’s mixing aggressive drives to the hoop with his lethal three-point shooting.
“You can tell the game has slowed down for him, just in the way he picks and chooses his spots and how he manages the game,” Curry said of Tatum after the game. “He’s shooting the ball a lot better from the perimeter, but when that game slows down … that’s when you become lethal.”
Lethal. That’s what Tatum has become over his last 13 games. He’s averaging 29.5 points per game in that span on 51.1% shooting, 41.6% on 3-pointers, and 91.3% on free throws. Tatum has never had a full month where he’s gone 50/40/90. He’s only gotten to 50% shooting in three other months, and one of them was earlier this season in January before he caught COVID-19.
He’s taking six free throws a game this month, a big development for a player who has historically not gotten to the line very often.
It’s quite premature, but we are witnessing the championship formula: Top-5 alpha, elite co-star, supporting all-star caliber guy, gritty dirt dogs, and one-dimensional specialists.
Keep it up, boys.
On Page 2, it didn’t take Jabari Parker long to show his worth.
On Saturday, only a little more than 24 hours after word broke about the Celtics’ signing of Parker, the team reaped some benefits from the move. Parker put up 11 points on 5-for-6 shooting, and actually found himself on the floor in the final two minutes of a one-possession game.
The Celtics eventually got the win over the Warriors thanks to 44 points from Jayson Tatum and a huge 3-pointer from Kemba Walker (26 points) that put the Celtics up by five points with 24.8 seconds to play.
But it was Parker who helped keep the very weak Boston reserve unit afloat with his offense. Outside of Parker, the Celtics bench was 4-for-16 shooting with nine total points. That was all too typical from this team—before acquiring Parker, the Celtics averaged 30.6 points per game from its bench, 29th in the NBA.
Parker certainly has his limitations, but I’m optimistic he can fulfill the offensive one-dimensional specialist role outlined above. There will be even less pressure on him when Evan Fournier returns.
And finally, Indiana was backing up the Brinks truck for Brad.
When Brad Stevens said last month that he had zero interest in leaving the Celtics to take the open coaching job at Indiana University, he apparently wasn’t exaggerating.
Speaking before Boston’s nationally televised game against Golden State on Saturday night, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Hoosiers were prepared to offer the 44-year-old Stevens “seven years, $70 million” to depart Boston for Bloomington.
I’ve heard this from many analysts, but it’s worth repeating. NBA coaches don’t leave for the NCAA. Even when they’re flashing $70 million in your face.
Don’t have time for the links, find them on your own…