Celtics

Celtics-Lakers Takeaways: Plenty of positives despite C's loss in L.A.

Celtics-Lakers Takeaways: Plenty of positives despite C's loss in L.A.

LOS ANGELES -- There are no moral victories when you are one of the top teams record-wise in the NBA.

But there’s no doubt the Boston Celtics will take many positives away from their 114-112 loss to the Lakers, which included Jayson Tatum delivering a Black Mamba-like performance with a career-high-tying 41 points. 

Tatum had one last shot to force overtime or help the Celtics steal the win, but he was called for an offensive foul with 0.8 seconds to play that sealed the victory for the Lakers.

The down-to-the-wire finish is not what anyone expected between these two teams, a game that many anticipated the Lakers would win with ease, similar to how Boston smashed them last month by 32 points.

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That loss for Los Angeles last month should have served as added motivation for the Lakers to be at their best.

Los Angeles also came in having won four in a row, along with Anthony Davis (32 points, 13 rebounds) being healthy after having missed the five previous games before the Boston beatdown last month. 

And let’s not forget the Celtics were without their top scorer, Kemba Walker (left knee).

Despite all that going on, this game came down to the wire. 

After three quarters which ended with the score tied at 87, the fourth quarter began with the Celtics getting a basket from Romeo Langford that was goal-tended. 

Moments later, Daniel Theis converted a 3-point play to push Boston’s lead up to five points. 

But the Lakers soon found their stride, regained the lead and put the Celtics in catch-up mode. 

DANIEL THEIS

In the first few minutes of Sunday’s game, Daniel Theis was the primary source of offense for the Celtics. 

And while others certainly had it going offensively more than Theis, he delivered yet another strong game at both ends of the floor. 

His defense was not all that surprising. 

The main reason he is a starter for the Celtics is because of how well he defends both individually as well as providing help and some level of rim protection. 

But more than that, he is becoming a more serviceable option offensively when defenses do a good job of not allowing those around him to have great looks at the rim. 

He finished with 16 points on 6-for-7 shooting along with nine rebounds.

JAYLEN BROWN

We have seen him show his defensive prowess a number of times this season, but the job he did on Anthony Davis in the first half was huge. 

Despite giving up several inches, Brown’s defense didn’t allow Davis to camp in the paint like he wanted to. 

And because of Brown’s quickness, Davis wasn’t able to get great looks from the perimeter as well. 

To the Lakers’ credit, they did a much better job in the second half getting Davis in more advantageous matchups which factored in him putting up a strong game statistically with 32 points and 13 rebounds. 

But that doesn’t take away or diminish the job Brown did limiting one of the more dominant players in the NBA to just eight points in the first half on 4-for-11 shooting with as many made baskets (four) as turnovers (four).

LAKERS BENCH PLAY

With Marcus Smart moving into the starting lineup with Kemba Walker (left knee) out, you knew it would have a significant impact on the production of Boston’s backups. 

Second unit scoring was the one area that the Lakers dominated Boston from the outset before finishing with a 43-11 advantage. 

But that’s not surprising when you consider the Lakers’ success this year is far more dependent on what they get from their second unit scoring-wise comparatively to Boston.

But the one positive for Boston’s second unit was the play of Romeo Langford, who spent time defending LeBron James in addition to making multiple hustle plays offensively. That led to him leading Boston’s bench in scoring with five points. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Trail Blazers, which begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 10 p.m. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

It's a matter of when, not if, Jaylen Brown will be an NBA All-Star

BOSTON -- We should have seen this coming from Jaylen Brown. 

It’s not like he didn’t clue us in to how he was built differently than most players coming into the NBA. 

His first NBA start came against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, a game in which Brown showed absolutely no nerves, anxiety or fear of James as he went on to score a then-career-high 19 points in what was his fifth game as a pro. 

From there, Brown continued to show flashes of being an above-average talent, displaying an innate ability to successfully transition to whatever role he’s cast to play. 

With the NBA season at a standstill now, it provides us an opportunity to take in what Brown has done thus far. 

More significantly, it allows us to take inventory on what Brown’s body of work thus far tells us is on the horizon. 

The 23-year-old Brown is on course to establish himself as an All-Star whose strength lies in his versatility to impact the game at both ends of the floor. 

This season, Brown is averaging 20.3 points per game, joining teammates Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker as part of the only trio of NBA teammates this season with each averaging at least 20 points per game. 

Of that threesome, Brown’s inclusion is the most surprising when you consider it wasn’t a given that he would start, let alone drop 20 points a night, at the start of the season. 

A legit case could be made that Brown should have been an All-Star this season, with some surmising a top-two record by the Celtics prior to the break would have been enough to get him in along with Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. 

But it’s fitting that Brown’s time to shine will have to wait. 

Because on many levels, that’s been the narrative surrounding his NBA career. 

And while it would have certainly deterred some and disappointed others, it only drove Brown to continue working on his game, proving his naysayers wrong - including those who booed Celtics owner Wyc Grousbeck when he announced that Boston had selected Brown with the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. 

“Oh, I remember,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston recently. “I definitely remember.”

But instead of dwelling on what has happened, Brown is more locked into what the future holds for both him and the Celtics. 

“Just keep getting better, keep grinding, keep working on all parts of my game,” he said. “That’s what I’ve done, to get where I’m at. So why stop now?”

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Classic Celtics: C's outlast Michael Jordan's Bulls in 1986 playoff thriller

Want to witness one of the greatest individual performances in NBA history? Just tune into NBC Sports Boston on Sunday night.

Our "Classic Celtics" series -- which featured Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals on Friday night -- continues Sunday with a throwback: Game 2 of Boston's 1986 NBA playoffs first-round series with the Chicago Bulls.

That April 20, 1986, game at TD Garden was a defining moment for then-23-year-old Michael Jordan, who went off for an NBA postseason-record 63 points.

But Celtics fans can appreciate Jordan's masterful performance knowing that Boston outlasted Chicago 135-131 in double overtime and swept the series en route to an eventual NBA title.

The broadcast begins Sunday at 7 p.m. ET, and as an added bonus, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge -- who scored 24 points in this game while defending Jordan -- will join Brian Scalabrine to provide real-time commentary throughout the game.

Other reasons to watch:

- A vintage performance from Celtics star Larry Bird, who scored a team-high 36 points to go along with 12 rebounds and eight assists.

- The 1980s Celtics at their peak: Bird, Ainge, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, Dennis Johnson and Bill Walton all scored double figures.

- Jordan hitting two free throws in the final seconds of regulation to force the first overtime.

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