Celtics-Wizards takeaways: Even without Tatum, C's offense is a juggernaut

Jaylen Brown

No Jayson Tatum, no problem for the Boston Celtics in Sunday's showdown with the Washington Wizards.

The C's erupted for 72 points in the first half and 113 through three quarters despite their MVP candidate being out with a left ankle sprain. They shot 55 percent from the field (44-for-80) and 47.1 percent from 3-point range (16-for-34) against the NBA's eighth-ranked defense, resulting in a 130-121 win.

Celtics Talk POSTGAME POD: Jaylen Brown goes OFF while the bench steps up without Jayson Tatum in win vs. Wizards | Listen & Subscribe

Jaylen Brown led the way with a season-high 36 points for the C's. For the short-handed Wizards, who were without Rui Hachimura and Kyle Kuzma, Bradley Beal dropped 30 points and Kristaps Porzingis added 21 in a losing effort.

The win marks the Celtics' third straight and improves their record to an NBA-best 16-4. They will host the Charlotte Hornets on the second night of a back-to-back Monday at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Here are three takeaways from Sunday's victory.

Celtics' depth on display

The C's will hope to have Tatum back in the lineup Monday, but Sunday's performance showed what they're capable of even without their superstar.

Seven of Boston's players scored in double figures: Brown, Malcolm Brogdon (17 points), Derrick White (15 points), Marcus Smart (14 points), Al Horford (14 points), Sam Hauser (14 points), and Luke Kornet (12 points).


Boston's bench combined for 46 points after totaling 34 in Friday's win over the Sacramento Kings. The second unit has been the best in the NBA over the first 20 games of the campaign, and that's a big change from last season when depth was a concern for the C's.

With Sunday's output, the Celtics have scored 120+ points in seven consecutive games at TD Garden. It's their longest such streak since 1972, per Celtics.com's Taylor Snow. A 130-point night should give Joe Mazzulla the confidence to rest Tatum, who's had a heavy workload so far this season, for the grueling upcoming stretch. Boston has four games in the next six days.

Jaylen Brown takes on starring role

Unsurprisingly, Brown was ready to step up and lead the Celtics in Tatum's absence.

The 26-year-old tallied a season-high 36 points on 13-of-23 shooting. He added five rebounds and two assists while only turning the ball over twice, marking his third straight game with two turnovers or fewer -- a pleasant sight given Brown's recent turnover woes.

Washington cut its 26-point deficit to nine in the fourth quarter, but Brown re-entered the game and finished strong to help Boston stave off the late run.

If Tatum misses additional time, C's fans can rest assured they have another star to lean on.

Ball movement wins ballgames

The Celtics offense has been on fire all season long and their ball movement is a big reason why. Sunday's game was the latest example.

Boston tallied 25 assists on its 44 field goals. That makes it 12 straight games in which the C's have had at least 20 assists. As noted by our Brian Scalabrine on the broadcast, it's the first time since 1990 they've had such a streak.

Marcus Smart impressed once again as a playmaker, ending with seven assists to go with his 14 points. Malcolm Brogdon added four off the bench.