Celtics

Tatum learning his rookie lessons from Professor Irving

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Tatum learning his rookie lessons from Professor Irving

LOS ANGELES -- As good as Jayson Tatum has been for the Boston Celtics this year, he’s still a rookie with a lot to learn.
 
Part of his education involves understanding what he has to do in order to become an impact player more consistently.
 
And his teacher?
 
Why that would be fellow Dukie Kyrie Irving.
 
Tatum, who had just four points on 1-for-6 shooting in Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, had a strong bounce-back performance on Wednesday with 18 points which included 10 in the third which is when the Celtics began to put some separation between themselves and the Clippers.
 
Coincidence?
 
Hardly.
 
Boston has been at its best this season when Tatum has looked for his shot consistently, a sermon that Irving finds himself preaching to the 19-year-old often.
 
“That’s what we need from him,” Irving said. “We just need him to be like that, have that aggressive mindset. I’m here to remind him of that throughout the game, throughout the season.”
 
Irving added: “As a developing young player, the best thing he can do is continue to learn how to be consistent. That’s a trait you have to develop over time. I think he’s doing a great job of learning on the fly.”
 
Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 113-102 win over the Los Angeles Clippers which snapped the Celtics’ four-game losing streak. 

TERRY ROZIER

With injuries forcing the Celtics to reshuffle their playing deck, they really needed Rozier to step up and lead the second unit. He was more than up for the challenge, scoring 15 points off the bench to lead Boston’s reserves. But more telling was how good things were for Boston when he was in the game, at both ends of the floor. His offensive rating of 111.9 was second on the team among players who saw at least 10 minutes of court time. And defensively, Rozier had a team-best defensive rating of 79.3. 

SEMI OJELEYE

It looked like Ojeleye was going to foul out in the first quarter, picking up four fouls in just three minutes, 42 seconds. Celtics head coach Brad Stevens kept him on the floor, gambling that his rookie would figure out how to stay on the floor. Ojeleye did just that, hitting a pair of big 3’s in the second half to help Boston get the win. And his play, particularly his defense, was among the key factors for the Celtics. For the game, Ojeleye had a defensive rating of 83.4 which was second on the team to fellow reserve Terry Rozier.

DANIEL THEIS

With no Al Horford, Theis found himself having to battle Clippers big men DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin for long stretches. To Theis’ credit, he battled around the glass all game before finishing with eight points and eight rebounds in about 23 minutes of court time. His defensive rebounding was particularly important because it helped limit the Clippers’ second-chance point opportunities. For the game, Theis had a .304 defensive rebounding percentage which was tops among all players.

GOOD DEFENSE

That old basketball axiom, “it’s a make-miss league,’ was so on point Wednesday night. The Celtics gave the Clippers very few good looks offensively. The Clippers took 79 shots, 67 of which were contested which translates into 84.8 percent of Los Angeles’ shots involved a Celtics player giving them no freedom or airspace for open looks. But the Clippers’ defense was really good as well. They contested 77 of Boston’s 93 shots, or 82.8 percent.

 

FINDING THE MISMATCH

We’re used to seeing Kyrie Irving take advantage of weaker defenders, but there was a conscious effort by Boston to do the same with other Celtics players. Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier all benefited from isolation-situations that favored them offensively. And to their credit, often that edge was translated into easy points.

 

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Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

Celtics-Cavaliers preview: How will C's respond to blowout Game 3 loss?

CLEVELAND – This season has been one lesson learned after another for the Boston Celtics, a team that has taken those teachings and transformed them into better play moving forward. 

It is a trend the Celtics hope to continue tonight as they try and bounce back from a 116-86 Game 3 thrashing at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers who now trail Boston 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. 

“All season I feel like we've been learning,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “We've been put in different positions. And now we're in a position that we need to bounce back, and (tonight) we have a good opportunity.”

Boston doesn’t have a ton of experience this season when it comes to suffering double-digit losses. 

In fact, the Celtics only suffered nine losses by 10 or more points this season. 

But here’s the thing: 

You hear players on this team talk all the time about putting the last game quickly behind them, win or lose. 

Well, that has certainly been the case when they have suffered losses by 10 or more points, evident by them posting an impressive 8-1 regular season record in the games that followed double-digit defeats. 

So if the Celtics seem extremely calm right now, that’s why.

“Everybody loses games,” said Boston’s Jayson Tatum. “The NBA is such a quick turnaround that you really can't be down, especially in the playoffs.”

The Celtics will be fine in terms of their approach mentally to Game 4. The bigger issue is doing a better job of executing at both ends of the floor and doing so without being thrown off their rhythm by the crowd noise that’s pumped into the Quicken Loans Arena that players acknowledged made communicating tougher than usual in Game 3.

“It's going to be loud. But that can't be an excuse for us,” said Boston’s Marcus Smart. “The young guys know that. It's alright, it's one game. The one thing about this sport, you get a chance to go out there and do it again, so it's a blessing to have that opportunity.”

And for the Celtics, tonight’s game offers more than just a chance to exact some payback for a dismal Game 3 performance. It also moves them one step closer towards the NBA Final.

But make no mistake about it. 

The sting of how thoroughly the Celtics were outplayed is indeed on the minds of some players heading into tonight’s game. 

“I use it as fuel because I thought it was embarrassing,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “I thought we came out, the way I played, the way I performed, how not aggressive I was in the first half, I look at that as fuel to come out in Game 3 and be excited about it and be ready to play and ready to fight.

Brown added, “We can't look at the last game and get down on ourselves or

think we're out of the series because we lost one game. That's what the world thinks, that's what the world wants us to think, so we're going to come out and play some basketball (tonight), regardless of what anybody got to say.”

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David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz once came through in the clutch for Al Horford's wedding

David Ortiz doesn't only come through in the clutch when he's in the batter's box.

He also delivers in clutch situations off the field. Take Al Horford's wedding for example. The Celtics big man had a last-minute wedding in the Dominican Republic and desperately needed a car to pick up his wife-to-be. Big Papi saved the day, sending Horford his Phantom and a driver. He even let them keep the car for a couple of days.

Horford told the story to the NBCS Camera Guys, who you should definitely follow on Twitter if you haven't already. . .

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