BOSTON -- It was a sight we had never seen before: Tremont Waters, Brad Wanamaker, Romeo Langford, Semi Ojeleye and Vincent Poirier on the floor against Atlanta … in the first quarter!
Injuries have left the Celtics little choice but to take a look at all sorts of lineups this season.
And this group, much like most of the tinkering done by Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, had the kind of success that factored into Boston continuing on its winning ways with a 112-107 victory over the Hawks.
Boston (36-15) has now won six in a row, doing so once again with an undermanned roster with Gordon Hayward (foot), Daniel Theis (ankle) both out.
Despite the Hawks being without All-Star Trae Young (right ankle contusion), Atlanta gave the Celtics all they could handle courtesy of the 1-2 punch of John Collins and Kevin Huerter who had 30 and 25 points, respectively.
Kemba Walker was back on the floor, but this was yet another game in which Jayson Tatum was Boston’s best player.
He continues to play at an All-Star level at both ends of the floor, mixing in an array of drives to the basket, jumpers and post-ups.
The improvement in Tatum’s overall game is undeniable. Having Walker back in the mix, it’s good to see it still on display when he’s playing with a fellow All-Star like Kemba.
Tatum led all scorers with 32 points, tallying 30 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in his NBA career. Tatum also had six assists and four rebounds.
The more we see him play, the clearer it becomes he’s more than capable of helping the Celtics when he gets an opportunity to play.
And he’s doing the little things at both ends of the floor.
During one third-quarter sequence, he contested a shot at the rim and soon sprinted back towards offense where he was greeted with a pass in transition that led to a pair of free throws.
By no means is he ready to be a full-time starter, but it’s reassuring for the Celtics to know that he can deliver when called upon as he finished with a career-high 16 points and five rebounds which included a clutch 3-pointer in the fourth that pushed Boston’s lead to 104-96 with less than three minutes to play.
Starting, coming off the bench. It doesn’t seem to have much of an effect on Enes Kanter’s impact on the floor. He would finish with 16 points and 15 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season, but first as a starter this season.
The Celtics punished the Hawks inside with several players contributing, but there was no bigger mismatch than whoever the Hawks had guarding Kanter.
Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Thunder, which begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live followed by tip-off at 3:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.