Celtics

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

BOSTON – You had to figure Golden State’s explosive offense would probably come up a little short scoring-wise against the Boston Celtics and their top-rated defense. 

But for them to score 88 points – that’s about 32 below their average – was very one of those, “where the hell did that come from?” moments. 

And it was exactly what the Celtics needed to escape with a 92-88 win that extended their winning streak to 14 in a row but maybe most important, put the entire league on notice that this streak they’re on right now … it’s real. 

“They wrote us off coming in, saying Golden State was gonna beat us, and do this and do that,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We came out and played basketball. Even though we got down, the make-up of our team is staying in; we’re resilient.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s signature win of the season, 92-88 over Golden State which extended Boston’s winning streak to 14 straight. 

 

BROWN’S GROWTH

Jaylen Brown was playing with a heavy heart less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend. But as we’ve seen in this still-young season, Brown is very much one of the league’s emerging talents. He certainly played that role on Thursday in leading Boston with 22 points with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.  

 

TALE OF TWO HALVES FOR TATUM

There’s something about the second half of games against elite players that brings out the best in Jayson Tatum. When Boston opened the season at Cleveland, Tatum was noticeably better in the second half than the first. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, it was more of the same. In the first half he had just two points only to finish with a 10-point second half (7 coming in the fourth) for a 12-point game on 2-for-5 shooting. 

 

AL HORFORD

As well as he’s played, a strong case can be made for Horford being a league MVP instead of their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Horford tallied a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of assists. Horford now has six double-doubles this season which equals his double-double total from all of last season. 

 

MARCUS SMART

As much as you know Smart makes great effort plays consistently and does indeed make a difference when he’s on the court, his shooting woes are reaching critical mass even as Boston continues to gobble up wins. In the last five games, Smart has averaged 7.6 points. That’s not too bad, right? But then you look and see that he’s shooting 19.2 percent (10-for-52) in that span. Ouch! So far, the Celtics have been able to find success despite his shooting struggles. But you have to anticipate at some point it’ll catch up with them. 

 

SHORTENED ROTATION

For most of this season, pretty much everyone who suits up for the Celtics, have played. But against the Warriors, it had the feel of a playoff-like rotation with head coach Brad Stevens playing 10 guys with nine reaching double digits in minutes played. Considering how the second unit struggled to make shots (they missed 17 of their 19 shot attempts), it’s understandable why head coach Brad Stevens leaned a little heavier than usual on his second unit.

Report: Clippers willing to offer Tobias Harris, draft picks for Kawhi Leonard

Report: Clippers willing to offer Tobias Harris, draft picks for Kawhi Leonard

The Clippers are firmly in the Kawhi Leonard sweepstakes.

According to the Los Angeles Times, they would be willing to part ways with Tobias Harris and the No. 12 or 13 pick in this year's draft for the two-time Defensive Player of the Year. Harris was the piece they received from the Pistons in the Blake Griffin trade last season.

Leonard wants out of San Antonio and has declared the Lakers his preferred landing spot, though the Clippers reportedly are among the teams he would consider.

Of course, the Celtics have also been named as a possible destination for the 27-year-old. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

Blakely: Celtics may come up with a winner at No. 27

BOSTON -- The Celtics aren’t expected to try and move up in Thursday night’s NBA draft.

Judging by the success teams in recent years have had at their draft position, you can understand why.

Indeed, the 27th pick in recent years has been -- on many levels -- as good or better than players selected several slots higher in their respective draft.

BLAKELY'S MOCK DRAFT 3.0

Look at last year’s draft, one in which the Los Angeles Lakers nabbed Kyle Kuzma with the 27th overall pick. As a rookie, he averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds in earning a spot on the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team -- the only player drafted outside of the lottery (top 14) to be chosen for the first unit.

In the previous season, Toronto selected Pascal Siakam from New Mexico at No. 27. He appeared in 55 games as a rookie, making a total of 36 starts while averaging 4.3 points per game. This past season he was key to a strong bench that played an instrumental role in Toronto recording a franchise-record 59 wins, giving the Raptors the best record in the East for the first time in franchise history.

As you continue to look at the 27th pick lineage, it’s clear that all the talk about Boston being able to find a player who can contribute that late in the draft isn’t overly optimistic.

Rudy Gobert, drafted by the Utah Jazz in 2012 at No. 27, has been named to the NBA’s All-Defensive Team three times and will be in contention for the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award again. He was also on the All-NBA second team in 2017.

Last season Boston finished with the second-best record in the East with a roster that was the league’s fifth-youngest. Most of that core group is set to return, with only Marcus Smart (restricted) and Aron Baynes (unrestricted) on the free-agent market. Finding a potential replacement for either of those guys is possible (unlikely, but definitely possible) with the 27th pick.

MORE ON THE DRAFT

More important than that, Boston has to continue to add players who can produce regardless of their position.

And while it’s certainly a far cry from the last two years, when the Celtics had the third overall pick in each draft (Jaylen Brown in 2016, Jayson Tatum in 2017), history has shown that teams can find more than just a warm body at No. 27. The Celts hope to add another chapter to that narrative this week.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE