Celtics

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

Greg Monroe looks comfortable as bigger offensive focal point

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum dropped 23 points, snatched 11 rebounds and Boston’s injury-riddled roster squeaked out a 100-99 upset win over Oklahoma City.

It was a good game for Tatum, but teammate Marcus Morris wasn’t moved one bit by Tatum’s historical performance.

“Now it’s not. … I’m not even impressed no more,” Morris said. “It’s to the point where I know what he’s going to bring, I know what he’s capable of. So it’s more like, I expect that now just being around, watching him play day-in and day-out, practicing with him.”

Teammates agree that the 20-year-old Tatum is growing up right before our eyes.

“With Jaylen and Kyrie being out, he’s looking to be more aggressive,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “Everybody is going to talk about offense, but on the defensive end he didn’t have an easy matchup, going against Paul George. I felt like he did a great job.”

Here are five other takeaways from Boston’s 100-99 comeback win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

RECONFIGURED BENCH

Boston’s second unit is still getting the job done even as injuries rob it of its core group that includes Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier who are now both starters. The Celtics’ new-look second unit was still impactful in Boston’s 100-99 squeaker past the Oklahoma City Thunder. Against the Thunder, Boston’s bench outscored Oklahoma City 35-10.

GREG MONROE

The big man continues to come up big for the Boston Celtics off the bench. Injuries have forced other key reserves into the starting lineup which has led to Monroe becoming an even bigger focal point offensively when he’s on the floor. Against the Thunder, he had 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting with six rebounds.

REBOUNDING

You never really know what you’re going to get from the Boston Celtics when it comes to rebounding the basketball. Well, Tuesdaynight was the good rebounding Celtics whose ability to control the glass was a huge factor in the victory as Boston out-rebounded Oklahoma City 52-44.

SEMI OJELEYE

Remember how Marcus Smart would struggle to make shots, and still play major minutes and still make a meaningful impact? Well, Semi Ojeleye had that kind of game for the Celtics. The 6-foot-6 rookie missed all six of his field goal attempts, but showed some serious versatility against the Thunder with defensive stints on each of Oklahoma City’s Big Three of Carmelo Anthony, Paul George and Russell Westbrook.

SHANE LARKIN

Marcus Morris made the game-winner and Jayson Tatum was as strong on the floor as we’ve ever seen him. But arguably the biggest X-factor in Boston’s win was the play of Larkin. His ability to control the flow of the game, getting his teammates in and out of sets was critical to the win, as was his offense. For the game, Larking had 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting from the field.

A. Sherrod Blakely's inaugural 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

A. Sherrod Blakely's inaugural 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings

BOSTON -- The NBA season will get going this week and that can only mean one thing … POWER RANKINGS ARE BACK!!!

And as we look at the NBA landscape at the start of the 2019-2020 season, it’s clear that this season has a predictably unpredictable feel about it.

Teams that for years began the season at or near the top like Golden State, are no longer a top-five lock out of the gates. Others who have spent the bulk of the last four or five years in basketball purgatory, seem to have a new lease on their basketball lives and find themselves among the top half of the league rather than being a perennial bottom-feeder.

It all sets the tone for what should be an exciting NBA season!

And with that, here’s NBC Sports Boston’s inaugural power rankings.

Click here for Blakely's full 2019-20 NBA Power Rankings>>>

16 reasons why 2019-20 NBA season is shaping up to be the best ever

16 reasons why 2019-20 NBA season is shaping up to be the best ever

NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-76ers starts at 6:30pm Wednesday with Celtics Pregame Live, and then Mike & Tommy have the call of the game at 7:30pm.

Unprecedented player movement. No clear-cut favorite to win the title. One of the most talked-about rookies in years. Superstar duos across the league.

As the 2019-20 NBA season tips off Wednesday night, there's no shortage of intriguing storylines to monitor.

Which team has the inside track on the 2020 title: Kawhi Leonard's Clippers? LeBron's Lakers? The Greek Freak and the Bucks? Harden-Westbrook 2.0? The new-look Sixers?

How will the Celtics fare now that Kyrie Irving is gone, presumably along with the team's chemistry issues? Will Zion Williamson somehow live up to the hype?

Those are just a few compelling topics that will garner headlines over the next eight months, and NBC Sports Boston's Chris Forsberg will be monitoring all of them.

Click here for 16 reasons why the 2019-20 NBA will be the best ever.>>>>>

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