Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Five takeaways before Celtics approach the New Year

The Celtics (20-7) have the third best record in the NBA, following a home win over the Charlotte Hornets 119-93 Sunday. Their .741 win percentage stands only behind the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers.

While they have won three games in a row and mostly without a completely-healthy roster (hopefully that will change soon), all the signs say "GO" for this Celtics team as they approach 2020.

Here are a few takeaways so far from a team that has done nearly a 180 degree turn in less than 12 months.

Where would Celtics be without Kemba Walker?

Was Kemba the right choice to replace Kyrie Irving, or what?!?! In Sunday night's, he poured in 23 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent from 3-point land. For the season, he averages 22.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.4 assist per contest. He is a tough cover for most opponents, and he opens up opportunities for his teammates. Plus, the guy never stops smiling, what's not to like?

Both Jay Team members are emerging at the same time!

Jayson Tatum's teammates went to his hot hand against the Hornets, and he emerged with a new career-high 39 points to go along with 12 rebounds. Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 55 of Boston's 119 total points, in addition to 21 boards and seven assists. There lies the main difference from a season ago. The Jay Team has emerged as a rebounding-and-facilitating unit. They are crashing the boards and finding teammates at opportune times, making their surge has been a delight to watch.

Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart may be back in action soon

The initial reaction to Gordon Hayward's sore left foot was one of alarm. Some thought, what if the left ankle surgery didn't work? While Danny Ainge has assured everyone that the soreness is in no way related to Hayward's ankle injury from 2017, which is good news. Marcus Smart's double-eye infection turned out to be worse than originally thought, but he is expected back in the near future.

Grant Williams is earning a spot in the core rotation

Forget the 25-missed-treys-in-a-row from the start of the season. Brad Stevens has had confidence in Grant Williams from the beginning, and now the rookie forward is making his mark. In 22 minutes of action against the Hornets, he scored 12 points on 5-of-6 from the field and 1-of-2 from 3-point-land. He also grabbed 4 rebounds, passed off for two assists, and had one steal and one block. G-Will doesn't play like a rookie, and expect more from him entering the New Year.

The rest of the Celtics rookie crop looks very promising

We finally got to see 23 minutes of Romeo Langford on Sunday, as he scored eight points on 3-of-6 shooting (2-of-3 on treys), while taking down four rebounds. Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters have formed a dynamic back-court duo for the G League Maine Red Claws, and both look like they'll having a solid future in the NBA. Tacko Fall NEEDS be an NBA player for years. To say he is beloved everywhere he goes is to understate the issue. If he can continue to hone his skills, he could be virtually unstoppable.

Danny Ainge has laid the groundwork for the present and future, which both look bright for the Celtics. All that is needed is some good fortune, maybe even a bit of good luck the rest of the season. With a healthy core and solid bench, this team could shock the basketball world and can go all the way.

Tom Lane

Photos used are courtesy of The Associated Press

No comments:

Post a Comment