Celtics

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'real excited to bounce back'

Stars, studs and duds: Tatum 'real excited to bounce back'

BOSTON – To see Jayson Tatum struggle with his shot the way he did at Chicago was surprising. He’s a 19-year-old rookie, but he has played with a level of consistency and poise that’s just not normal for a player so young.

But the true indicator wasn’t how he struggled, but how would he respond.

Tatum had the kind of bounce-back game the Boston Celtics needed on Wednesday as they held off a hot-shooting Denver Nuggets team 124-118.

Tatum, who had four points on 1-for-7 shooting in Boston’s 108-85 loss at Chicago on Monday, had 15 points against the Nuggets while connecting on six of his nine shot attempts.

“I was just real excited to bounce back,” Tatum told NBC Sports Boston. “I was upset the way I played, the way we played. I was eager to get back and get a win.”

Tatum played just under 28 minutes which is a couple minutes below his average, in part because Boston decided to go small and the Nuggets played long stretches with 6-foot-8 Wilson Chandler at small forward and 6-10 Trey Lyles at power forward.

“When you move Chandler to the 3 (small forward) and Lyles to the 4 (power forward), all of a sudden going small doesn’t feel like the best idea in the world,” Stevens said. “Those are tough matchups, so that’s why his minutes were a little down.”

But the change in Tatum’s minutes allowed him to play more with the second unit which was indeed a plus for the Celtics.

“He came in and gave us a good lift and did most of his damage with the second unit,” Stevens said.

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 124-118 win over the Denver Nuggets.

 

STARS

Kyrie Irving

He returned after missing the Chicago game to rest his sore left quad, and boy did the Celtics need him. The Nuggets made this a much higher-scoring affair than Boston is accustomed to playing, but they were able to more than hold their own and Irving’s play was a big reason why. He led the Celtics with 33 points on 12-for-19 shooting along with seven assists and a pair of blocked shots.

Gary Harris

Denver is a long way from Boston, so folks on this side of the basketball world aren’t familiar with just how good Gary Harris is on the floor.  He was a near-unstoppable force Wednesday night, knocking down 3-pointers along with getting to the rim off the dribble with dunks, lay-ups and a few pull-up jumpers. He led all scorers with 36 points on 16-for-25 shooting.

 

STUDS

Aron Baynes

No Al Horford (rest) meant someone in the frontcourt would be getting a few more shots tonight, and Baynes was up to the challenge. He finished with 17 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go with six rebounds. Boston is now 6-1 when the 6-foot-10 center scores in double figures. 

Jaylen Brown

Like most of his teammates, Brown was eager to bounce back from a not-so-great performance at Chicago. He did just that, tallying 26 points on 9-for-12 shooting.

Jamal Murray

The other half of Denver’s starting backcourt, Murray is a spot-on shooter whose playmaking skills are improving with time. He had a double-double of 28 points on 9-for-17 shooting along with 10 rebounds while dishing out four assists and getting his hands on three steals.

Shane Larkin

His ability to shake things up and provide a spark was on full display against the Nuggets. Larkin was a perfect 6-for-6 shooting and finished with 14 points in just under 18 minutes of court time.

 

DUDS

Celtics rebounding

It seemed no matter how many white-and-green clad jerseys were around the ball, it always seemed to find its way into the hands of a Denver Nuggets player. By the time the final horn had sounded, the Celtics were a -18 on the boards with Denver finishing with 48 total rebounds – just 3 short of the season-high 51 Boston gave up against Orlando on Nov. 24.

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Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

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Kyrie Irving out vs 76ers with shoulder injury

BOSTON – Brad Stevens said Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving will sit out tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Irving aggravated his shoulder in Boston’s 116-113 overtime loss to New Orleans on Tuesday, and was held out of the team’s practice on Wednesday. 

Without Irving, Boston will start Marcus Smart in the backcourt along with Jaylen Brown, with the frontcourt consisting of the usual trio of Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes. 

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
 
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
 
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
 
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
 
 

TATUM’S SHOOTING

Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
 

TEMPER, TEMPER

The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”

ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES

Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).

POPULARITY ON THE RISE

The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.

JERRYD BAYLESS

With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

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