Thursday, March 2, 2023

Celtics 117, Cavaliers 113: C's bounce back on the back of Jayson Tatum's do-it-all performance

The Celtics (45-18) got back to their winning ways on Wednesday night with a big win over the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-26) at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum, two days before his 25th birthday and two days after his first career ejection, led the way with a pristine performance in which he had 41 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists. Tatum's playmaking skills were on full display, as the All-Star MVP added 21 points off of his assists, and created 63 of Boston's 113 points per NBA tracking data. 

Tatum's superb night was an efficient one as well, as he shot 13-of-21 from the field, including 4-of-6 from three and 11-of-14 from the free throw line in what was a much needed bounce back game from him. It was his ninth 40-point game this season, as legend Larry Bird holds the record for most 40 point games in a single season by a Celtic with 11.

Al Horford provided a huge boost for the Celtics, pouring in 23 points on a scorching 6-of-8 from three and grabbing 11 rebounds. Horford's hot shooting was a major contributor to Boston going 16-of-32 overall from behind the arc. 
"He constantly tries to find small ways to reinvent his game. What he does you can't even put into words what he is for our team," Celtics Head Coach Joe Mazzulla said of Horford's impact.
Tatum was not the only star who showed out on Wednesday night, as Cavs guard Donovan Mitchell had a 44 point performance of his own on 17-of-32 shooting from the field, 4-of-12 from 3-point range, and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.
"We just bring out the best in each other. As a competitor, you love that challenge," Tatum said to reporters postgame of his scoring duel with Mitchell.
Cleveland was playing swarming defense early on in the game, but the Celtics countered that with crisp and connected passing, resulting in nine assists on their first 11 baskets and ended the night with 27 assists on 39 made shots.

The teams were nearly neck and neck after the first half, with the Celtics holding a slim 55-52 advantage over the Cavs at the break. Early into the third quarter however, the Celtics would go on a 26-9 run, extending their lead to as much as 21 at one point. Mitchell was the sole reason the game was even within striking distance for the Cavaliers in the second half, as he scored 19 of Cleveland's 26 points in the quarter. 

The Celtics never looked back after their run in the third, despite a late surge from Cleveland to cut the lead to four with 12 seconds left to play in the final frame.
"I thought we managed the game with our offense, and when we have the right spacing and we can keep teams in the half court and play our half court defense, our first shot defense was really good," Mazzulla said of the team's overall performance.
One notable change to the rotation was made in this game for the C's, as forward Grant Williams drew a DNP-coach's decision on the night. When asked about why the Celtics made that change, Mazzulla cited "matchups" as the main reason.

The Celtics will attempt to create another winning streak when they take on the new-look Brooklyn Nets (34-28) at home on Friday night.

Game Notes:

Boston was 50% from the field and from 3-point territory, while the Cavaliers shot 48.9% from the floor, including 31.3% (10-of-32) from long-distance. The Celtics out-rebounded Cleveland 43-38 but were outscored in the paint 68-44 and the C's committed 13 turnovers to the Cavs' seven.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

No comments:

Post a Comment