The Celtics snatched victory from defeat mere minutes after looking to have turned a comfortable win into an ugly loss. They had a ten point lead with five minutes to go but a series of turnovers and missed free throws left them down three with one possession to go. Kyrie Irving hit three clutch free throws and held up on a final defensive stand to force overtime where the Celtics held on to the win. Honestly both teams did some stupid things in the final few minutes of the contest. Ugly wins are better than impressive losses.
- Kyrie was playing his second game after returning from injury and was on a minutes restriction of around 30 on the night, which he went past in overtime. He played well on offense but lacked some of his normal dynamism. Tomas Satoransky used his length to give him a couple of problems but he still managed to score efficiently enough. Down three with under twenty seconds to go the team ran a play to get Kyrie a three; Markieff Morris took a stupid swipe at him, sending him to the line for three shots where he tied the game. He also switched onto Brad Beal and forced a difficult shot at the buzzer to send the game to overtime. In overtime he ran the show and shepherded the team to victory, as we’ve become accustomed.
- Greg Monroe made his debut in green, posting five points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. He also flashed his passing skills and could easily have had four assists with some better finishing. He looked like the player we’ve seen for the better part of a decade; a below the rim big who plays the angles and works hard.
- Monroe didn’t cut into Daniel Theis’s minutes; they seemed to come mostly from Aron Baynes who only got 14 minutes despite starting opposite Marcin Gortat. Brad Stevens used two big lineups more than usual and even mentioned it during the between quarters interview on TNT. He didn’t seem completely sold on the idea, even mentioning he’d see, “if they could hold up.”
- Terry Rozier was efficient shooting the ball, going 4-6 and 2-2 from three but looked very loose with the ball. He had four turnovers and just generally looked lax with his ball-handling. Still, with Marcus Smart out he got the call in the late game situations to guard Brad Beal. His growth continues on a nightly basis.
- Jayson Tatum’s shooting struggles continue. He breaks out every few games but below 50% shooting nights are no longer a rarity. It seems like every missed jumper is short. When he goes to the rim he continues to look to get the ball up with quickness or trickery even thought he seems to finish better when he just goes strong and uses his length.
- As is so often the case, when one young Jay struggles, the other picks up the slack. Jaylen Brown made a huge shot in overtime with the clock running down after a scramble following a won jump ball. He ended with 15/4/3, a line we’ve seen from him a lot this season.
- Marcus Morris won the battle against his twin brother Markieff. Marcus not only posted more points and rebounds, but also watched ‘Kieff give the critical foul on Kyrie to end regulation and then another three shot foul to start overtime.
- Aside from Kyrie in the clutch, the free throw shooting was awful and could easily have cost the team the game.
Jaylen Brown hits it from the corner!
— NBA (@NBA) February 9, 2018
- Washington continues to impress in John Wall’s absence. We saw the Celtics go on a run after losing Gordon Hayward; sometimes these things happen. Sustaining it is the challenge, as we’ve found. Being competitive in these games is important though, as the drop from the four seed to the bottom of the playoffs isn’t that far.
- Brad Beal has an extremely green light with Wall out. He’s doing a lot for the team right now but he took a ton of shots and didn’t make all that many. Rough shooting nights happen for everyone, though, and in general he’s impressing. He was both the play maker and play finisher for long stretches.
- Satoransky was the most impressive of the supporting cast because of his play on both ends. He hounded Kyrie, tied up Jaylen, and generally was a menace on defense. He also showed on- and off-ball skills on offense. If Washington had this Satoransky in the playoffs last year, things may have gone differently.
- I mentioned it already, but the foul Markieff Morris committed on Kyrie as he took a three to try to tie the game late is unforgivable. He just touched his arm for no reason; he wasn’t even contesting the shot. As much as one stupid decision can cost a team a 48 (or 53) minute game, that one did.
- The Wizards bench plagues them still. Maybe that will change when Wall returns and a newly confident Satoransky goes back to that roll, but it often doesn’t work out that way. The Celtics are hoping for the same result with Terry Rozier.
Boston returns home to play the Pacers tomorrow before the new look Cavaliers come to town on Paul Pierce day. This game nearly slipped away from the Celtics which would have seen them fall into second place in the East but they found a way to get it done and so stay atop the standings halfway through a big week of games.