MINNEAPOLIS -- The Boston Celtics had four players score at least 20 points in their 127-117 win at Minnesota on Friday night.
Although it hasn’t happened by a Celtics team since 2015, it’s not all that surprising with this group when you consider the Celtics’ roster and the amount of above-average scorers they have.
But when you see that the quartet of big-time scorers on Friday included Daniel Theis … now that’s surprising.
It was indeed a career night for Theis who tallied his fifth double-double of the season with 25 points and 16 rebounds - both career highs.
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Theis credits his strong play to his teammates finding him when he rolled to the basket (over and over and over again) or on last-minute passes when the defense collapsed and left Theis open at the rim.
“So that’s what I kept doing,” Theis said. “Just roll. If they shoot it, go for the rebound.”
Theis’ strong game came after a lackluster start for the 6-foot-9 center.
You can count head coach Brad Stevens among those surprised at Theis having a career night considering how he began the game.
It started off when he lost the opening tip.
Soon after that, the man he was sorta, kinda, but not really defending early on, Naz Reid, had four points in just 53 seconds.
As far as Theis having a career night, “The first couple of possessions I would not have predicted that,” Stevens said. “He got beat up pretty good. But he was great; he was a threat at the rim.”
Theis is also a much tougher cover for opponents that try and go small, often having the size to overpower them in the post if they are smaller while still having a nice enough touch from the perimeter to make teams pay from distance as well.
“They were pretty small in there and he did a great job of getting behind (the defense),” Stevens said. “He also protected us at the rim in critical times there.”
For Theis, fielding questions about scoring is something that he’s not accustomed to doing.
But this night was indeed an unusual one, even for a Celtics team that on paper has several players with high-scoring potential on a night-in, night-out basis.
“It shows how good and how deep our team is,” Theis said. “We have guys who can score 20 points every night; Kemba (Walker), JT (Jayson Tatum), Jaylen (Brown), Gordon (Hayward), (Marcus) Smart … today I was in that mix, too.”
And while Theis’ points were certainly important ones for Boston, don’t look for him to all of a sudden become a shot-chucker.
“At the end, everybody knows I don’t care about the scoring,” Theis said. “I care about the defensive part; we have to get better on defense, we gave up a lot of stuff.”
Indeed, the Celtics know the defense that they played against the Timberpups (16-38 this season) has to be better going forward, not just against the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday but also against other teams down the road that will be better than Minnesota.
But it’s good to know that on any given night, Theis can do more than just run the floor, rebound and defend.
He can also score which only enhances the value he has to this team.
“Theis played great. He doesn’t always get a lot of attention,” said Jayson Tatum who had 28 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season. “But he’s very vital to our team’s success night-in, night-out and capable of big games like this.”
Being an All-Star, Tatum is accustomed to the added attention defenses will pay him now.
That attention tends to open things up for teammates such as Theis whose only 3-pointer made came on an assist from Tatum in the third quarter.
“I get a lot of buckets off of Theis setting screens,” Tatum said. “So I always make sure I say thank you.”
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