Ja Morant

Robert Williams, Ja Morant were in awe of Zion Williamson's record debut

Robert Williams, Ja Morant were in awe of Zion Williamson's record debut

Boston Celtics fans got their first look at rookie sensation and No. 2 overall pick Ja Morant on Wednesday night.

But the rest of the NBA community (including one Celtics player) was fixated on No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson -- and he didn't disappoint.

The New Orleans Pelicans rookie went off in his NBA debut by dropping 22 points in a loss to the San Antonio Spurs, 17 of which came in a span of three and a half minutes in the fourth quarter.

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Williamson's 22 points -- aided by four 3-pointers -- were the most ever for a Pelicans player making his debut and the most points in under 20 minutes of any player in his debut.

Williamson's fourth-quarter explosion captivated NBA Twitter -- including injured Celtics big man Robert Williams III, who apparently was watching Zion go off as he recovers from a hip injury.

Even Morant, a former AAU teammate of Williamson's in South Carolina, was able to take in the Duke product's debut after the Grizzlies' 119-95 loss to the Celtics, which ended just as Pelicans-Spurs was starting.

NBA players weren't the only athletes in awe of Williamson, either; just ask New England Patriots running back James White.

Williamson's debut was a long time coming after he missed New Orleans' first 44 games due to a torn meniscus, but it was well worth the wait.

Celtics fans will get to see the 19-year-old up close just three days from now, as the C's visit the Pelicans on Sunday.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics-Grizzlies Takeaways: And the beat(down) goes on, defense fuels another C's blowout

Celtics-Grizzlies Takeaways: And the beat(down) goes on, defense fuels another C's blowout

BOSTON -- Following the Boston Celtics' pummeling of the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, I asked Gordon Hayward what does it take for the C's to have a few more nights like that. 

“It’s our defense,” he said. “When we’re playing really well, we’re flying around on defense, communicating…and that translates to our offense and overall, we just play better.”

Do. They. Ever.

Boston's defense triggered a 23-2 run in the second quarter that put the Grizzlies in a hole that they simply could never climb out of as the Celtics pulled away for a 119-95 blowout win. 

And to think, just a few days ago there were questions about what's wrong with the Celtics. 

While they are very much a work in progress, a second blowout in as many games against either a title contender (the Lakers) or one of the league's hottest teams (Grizzlies), speaks to how dominant this team can be on any given night regardless of the opponent. 

And while Memphis (20-25) came in with a losing record, this victory was indeed a quality one for Boston considering how well the Grizzlies came in with wins in seven of their previous eight games. 

The decisive win was certainly bolstered by another strong shooting night.

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But this win, much like the Lakers victory, had more to do with the defense playing at a high level. 

And now, the question is no longer about whether the Celtics can play at an elite level against quality teams. 

It has more to do with, can they take that elite defense, efficient shot-making brand of basketball we've seen lately, on the road? 

DANIEL THEIS

In the first half, Daniel Theis channeled his inner-Marcus Smart, delivering an unexpected barrage of 3-pointers before finishing with 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting. 

One of the keys to Memphis’ success of late has been the play of Jaren Jackson Jr., whose inside-outside game puts him among the best young bigs in the NBA. 

Having Theis show he too can knock down long-range shots, as well as score from inside the paint, helped neutralize Jackson’s impact. 

JAYSON TATUM

He was among the better performers in Boston’s blowout win over the Los Angeles Lakers, and seemingly picked up where he left off. 

Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists before leaving in the third quarter with a groin injury. 

Brad Stevens said after the game that the injury, “didn’t sound like it was too bad. I’m not that concerned.” Stevens said Tatum will be tested again on Thursday.

Similar to what we saw against the Lakers, the timing of Tatum’s scoring was just as important as the final point total. 

Rather than scoring to keep the Grizzlies from getting back into the game, many of Tatum’s baskets added to what was one of the more demoralizing losses for Memphis this season. 

And to Tatum’s credit, it was clear that he had a great feel for what the Celtics needed from him at all times. 

There will be nights when Tatum won’t be nearly as good scoring as we saw on Monday or against the Lakers. 

Still, what we are seeing is his overall growth as a star, showing steady improvement on how to give the game what it needs from him. 

ROOKIE WALL FORMATION

Ja Morant has been absolutely killin’ teams with his explosive scoring which ranks atop rookie leaders this season. 

This is the same guy that dropped 30 points on the Brooklyn Nets and a healthy Kyrie Irving, lit up the Utah Jazz and Donovan Mitchell for 25 recently and dropped a cool 26 on the Houston Rockets and their 1-2 punch of James Harden and Russell Westbrook. 

But the Celtics weren’t in the mood to be the latest team to get lit up by the runaway leader for NBA Rookie of the Year, limiting him to a career-low two points on 1-for-5 shooting. 

The way the Celtics treated Morant provided a snapshot of how Boston treated the entire Grizzlies team; looking like a team that was focused on playing the Memphis team of the moment (winners of seven of eight) rather than one with a below-.500 record. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Magic, which begins Friday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Celtics vs. Grizzlies live stream: Watch NBA game online

Celtics vs. Grizzlies live stream: Watch NBA game online

The Boston Celtics will get a great look at two of the NBA's most talented rookies this week.

Before taking on 2019 No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, the Celtics will host the Memphis Grizzlies at TD Garden on Wednesday night.

The Grizzlies enter Wednesday in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. They have won eight of their last 10 games, and much of their success can be attributed to rookie point guard Ja Morant. The No. 2 pick in the 2019 draft is averaging a team-leading 17.9 points and seven assists per game, and he's provided plenty of exciting moments with his athleticism -- just ask former Celtics center Aron Baynes. The Grizzlies are more than just Morant, though. Jaren Jackson Jr., who was selected No. 4 overall in the 2018 draft, is enjoying a fine sophomore season with averages of 17.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest. 

The Celtics are coming off a huge 32-point win over the rival Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night, and Boston's next challenge is to build on that momentum and play more consistent. The C's have won just four of their last 10 games.

Here's how to watch NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics vs. Grizzlies, beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET. Tip off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH

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ANALYSIS AND REACTION

BEFORE THE GAME: At 6:30 p.m., Celtics Pregame Live presented by TD Bank gets you ready for the game with reports from Kyle Draper, Mike Gorman, Brian Scalabrine, A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg, and Abby Chin. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AT HALFTIME: Tune in to watch a breakdown of the first two quarters on Halftime Live presented by Ace Ticket. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream.

AFTER THE GAME: As soon as the game ends, tune to Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford for analysis, commentary and player reaction. Watch on NBC Sports Boston or click here for the live stream

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