Two games have passed since the All-Star Break and the Celtics have two wins under their belt. After some struggles before the break, going on a four game losing streak, the Celtics were not looking good, especially on the offensive side. Things have been looking up again as the Celtics are making their way towards the number one in the East again.
Looking at the Pistons game, one of the biggest highs for me was how the Celtics were able to rebound. The Celtics managed to grab 52 rebounds, against a team with one of the best rebounders in the game and Blake Griffin. Five of our players got over five rebounds, and although Drummond still got 17, it’s improvement.
(Note: all stats from the Celtics Pistons game)
A few players stood out for me in this game. Tatum was shooting lights out early after going 4/4 on field goals and 2/2 on threes. He ended up going 6/9 for 15 points.
Theis had a great game coming out of the All Star Break. He was perfect in 9 minutes going three for three on field goals, and on the whole night he got 17 points. Pretty good from the rookie.
Smart, after being out for almost a month, just picked up where he left off. He took care of business with a solid 12 points and 6 assists. His passing has certainly impressed many this season, but his impact is never in the stats. Kyrie said earlier this week that Smart just took a lot of responsibility off of people’s shoulders, and that he did.
Rozier conjured up some nice numbers as well. 11 points and 7 assists were his numbers in some well-fought minutes. His effort and athleticism continues to impress.
The team was playing well together. They shot well (50% FGs and 11 threes in the first half) and put in some great offense. Scoring over 100 points and keeping the opponent under 100 points? That’s been the struggle, playing well on both sides of the ball for the whole game, especially offense. But, the team was dishing out assists too. 30 assists. Only 16 assists for the Pistons. All I can say is that’s better than the season average and just as good as the defending champs’ average. The Celtics had good ball movement and passing throughout the game.
Brad Stevens is still trying to figure out the subs and how to go about it. Throughout the season, Stevens has tinkered with the lineups, deciding who to take out and when to put them back in, especially at the start of the game. Before the All Star Break, he voiced that he wanted to make some changes.
We’ll look at everything. Obviously, you’re always looking for small tweaks defensively and offensively, but we haven’t gotten enough out of our rotations and subs and all those things. We’ll take a deeper dive into that. – Brad Stevens
A common pattern that Stevens used was taking out Horford and Tatum, and then putting them in with the second unit, letting Irving, Brown, and usually Baynes, to play with Smart, and whoever else he puts in (this varied).
In the Pistons game, Horford came out to play with the second unit. Hoford is a constant through all of this, and always plays with the second unit. The young players have a veteran in Horford they can rely on. In this case, Tatum now can work with Kyrie and the starters even more and work on his game, whether it be driving to the basket, getting open looks in the corner, or finding space midrange like he has been doing so well.
Brown came out with Horford as well, but went in a lot later, with Kyrie. It looks like Stevens might be trying to let Brown develop his game with Kyrie as well.
It also helped that the bench played well this game. They outscored the starters 65-45, which, let me tell you, is a lot better than the bench’s average 32 points per game. Just saying.
This seemed to work out well.
- Take out Brown and Horford, which allows Tatum to play with Kyrie
- Let the bench play it out, find who has the hot hand and who is playing well
- Put in Brown and Kyrie with the bench players who are playing well
- Go from there
So, some nice playing by the Celtics two games in. It’s hard not to overreact to these two games, just because the Celtics have finally got some offense going again. Is it just because they got a well deserved break? Who knows, but the Celtics have been playing better on both sides of the ball. Stevens is working well with the team and finding the right rotations. Let’s hope this keeps up!