BOSTON -- Once again the Boston Celtics managed to handle their business on the floor, defeating the Memphis Grizzlies, 113-103,Cel on Tuesday night.
A lot of attention, and deservedly so, will be paid to the fact that the Celtics (19-13) have now won six of their last seven games.
To out-grind the best grind-it-out-team in the NBA, Memphis, is impressive too, but you didn’t see guys making a big deal about beating the Grizzlies, even though it is.
And you won’t find them overly excited about gradually putting distance between themselves and every team in the East except Cleveland and Toronto.
The Celtics carry themselves in a way that suggests the success they have had of late is nothing more than them simply doing what they’re supposed to do.
That stealth confidence that they play with has helped them remain level-headed during some rough patches this year, and not get too full of themselves with success.
Here are five other takeaways from Tuesday’s game:
MORE THAN ISAIAH THOMAS SHOW
Grizzlies coach David Fizdale wasn’t kidding when he said he planned to “throw the kitchen sink” at Thomas who lit his crew up for a career-high 44 points when the two played on Dec. 20. Memphis really did throw a lot of different defensive looks, traps and tilts at Thomas who still managed to score 21 points. But as we saw, Boston turned to a number of others to carry the scoring load for significant stretches. Avery Bradley had a team-high 23 points which included 10 in the third quarter. And while Thomas led Boston with nine points in the fourth, the Celtics also got strong contributions in the fourth from Gerald Green who scored nine of his season-high 19 points off the bench in the final period of play.
Not a game passes by where we don’t see Marcus Smart’s imprint of some sort out there. Against the Grizzlies, he had 13 points and six assists. More telling was his impact in the game’s decisive fourth quarter. That’s when he scored seven points, grabbed two rebounds and tallied a pair of steals to help Boston come away with the victory.
CELTICS PASS BOARD TEST
It has been a rough, well-documented struggle this season for the Boston Celtics when it comes to rebounding. They have been at or near the bottom most of this season, and with a .477 rebounding percentage are just ahead of the woeful Dallas Mavericks (.464). But on Tuesday, Boston rose up and were able to out-board a Memphis team 47-37 that has been among the top 10 on the glass for a good chunk of the season and are currently 11th in the league in rebounding percentage (.505). And as we’ve seen, good things tend to happen to Boston when they do good work on the boards. This season, they are 7-0 when they out-rebound an opponent.
CELTS TURNING GREEN
The Boston Celtics are going green; as in, Gerald Green. The veteran guard who has battled injuries and inconsistent minutes all season, has delivered the kind of offensive spark the Celtics were hoping for. In Boston’s last two games, he has scored 27 points in just 31 minutes on the floor which includes Sunday’s season-high 19 points.
PLAYOFF-LIKE ROTATION IN EFFECT
Brad Stevens tightened up the rotation on Tuesday with only eight players logging double digit minutes. It has been a season-long search for an effective, consistent combination of players who can deliver and it appears Stevens has found it. The Celtics really have six starters with Marcus Smart, and one key reserve in Kelly Olynyk. Beyond that top seven, the final rotation spot or two will potentially change on a nightly basis, but will come from a pool of players that consists of Gerald Green, Jonas Jerebko, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier with Tyler Zeller available in case one or two bigs gets into foul trouble. It may not be the most ideal set-up, but it’s working for now so there’s little reason for Stevens or the Celtics to go away from it.