Jayson Tatum has performed at an MVP-level this season, Jaylen Brown has made an enormous leap as his co-star, however each time the Celtics have wanted a pick-me-up from their supporting solid, they’ve delivered most of the time.
And which may be the most important distinction from final yr when assessing the Celtics’ championship hopes.
Brown was out as a consequence of an damage he suffered in his 41-point efficiency on Wednesday. So was Al Horford, who isn’t taking part in in back-to-backs this season. And Tatum had certainly one of his worst capturing performances of the yr, which included a number of ugly misses in a 7-for-22 night time. Still, on the second night time of a back-to-back, the Celtics – like they’ve executed all season – discovered a approach with out them.
Whether it was Malcolm Brogdon, Luke Kornet and even Payton Pritchard, the Celtics’ depth confirmed up once more as they earned certainly one of their gutsiest wins of the season. The C’s took management of the sport within the fourth quarter en path to a 109-98 victory over the Kevin Durant-less Nets for his or her fifth consecutive win.
“I trust those guys,” Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla advised reporters in Brooklyn on his bench. “To have a great team, you have to have guys that have the humility to know when it’s their time to step up and when it’s their time not to.”
It was the Celtics’ ninth consecutive win over the Nets – together with final season’s postseason sweep – as they moved three video games forward of their rivals from Brooklyn atop the Eastern Conference.
Thursday’s victory was gained on protection, because the Celtics locked the Nets down within the fourth quarter and set the tone with a non-Tatum lineup that included Brogdon, Pritchard and White. White began the interval with a block and in addition contributed a cost and steal because the C’s ran everywhere in the Nets with their smaller lineup.
Pritchard gave the C’s a two-point lead with a late layup within the remaining seconds of the third, and he and Brogdon spurred an 8-2 run to start out the fourth as they constructed an eight-point lead.
“We just love the way the next guy can step up,” Smart advised reporters. “Payton and Malcolm coming in and to be honest, those two in that group with Sam (Hauser) and those two really changed the game for us. They got us on a rhythm, they got our momentum back for us and we’re proud of those guys. Each and every day, we try to give those guys their flowers because we understand that they don’t get it as much but they do a lot of things to help this team win.”
The Nets didn’t lower their deficit nearer than seven the remainder of the way in which as Tatum and Smart closed issues out. The C’s held the Nets to simply 16 factors within the fourth. Kyrie Irving completed with simply 24 factors on 9-for-24 capturing and didn’t get a lot assist.
But the C’s did, and that was the distinction. Brogdon completed with 16 factors on 7-for-13 capturing, Kornet had 11 factors and performed terrific defensively. White had 15 factors and made large performs on each ends. And Pritchard, whose alternatives have come and gone this yr, offered one other large spark with 9 factors and three offensive boards.
“For Payton, I’m really happy for him,” Mazzulla stated. “He’s maintained a stage of professionalism, preparation and simply toughness to remain the course. Malcolm, Derrick, Grant (Williams), these guys, they did a fantastic job tonight.
“I think we showed what our team can be … with our mindset and our toughness.”
Other takeaways and notes from Thursday’s win:
– The Celtics’ second unit confronted a giant problem early with out Brown. One of Tatum or Brown normally performs with that bench group, however after Tatum performed your entire first quarter, Mazzulla put out a unit of Brogdon, White, Pritchard, Hauser and Robert Williams. The group struggled because the Celtics fell behind by 9, however they produced a powerful response as they went on an 8-0 run – White 3, Hauser tip-in and Pritchard 3 – to carry them again inside one.
After the Nets known as a timeout, they went forward by six once more earlier than White, Tatum and Smart introduced them again with some sizzling capturing and stops. Then Tatum acquired going, as he scored the Celtics’ remaining seven factors of the half to provide them a three-point halftime lead.
– With Horford out, Robert Williams performed a season-high 29 minutes and regarded robust in his remaining stint within the fourth quarter, which included an alley-oop slam.
“He was fine,” Mazzulla stated. “I was happy with him. He played well.”
– The Nets gashed the Celtics in transition within the first half, after they scored most of their 24 fast-break factors. Several of Ben Simmons’ 13 assists got here on the break, however after producing 10 helpers within the first half, he was principally a non-factor down the stretch. He didn’t rating any factors and continued to look reluctant to take photographs.
– The Celtics are actually 7-0 this season on the second night time of a back-to-back. Mazzulla stated there hasn’t been an additional emphasis on that.
“No matter the game, we just talk about mindset,” he stated. “Trying to have the right mindset coming into every night knowing games are hard. We’re actually terrible on two days’ rest, so I hope we don’t have that any time coming up.”
– Mazzulla advised reporters earlier than Thursday’s sport that Brown might miss one week with a proper adductor pressure. Brown suffered the damage throughout Wednesday’s win over the Pelicans, when he scored 41 factors.