The Boston Celtics are officially out of the game.
After going winless on a three-game road trip and falling to ninth place in the Eastern Conference, the Cs bounced back in a much-needed 118-112 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
For the first time in a long time, the Celtics competed with energy. Kemba Walker was in his prime, and despite Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown having tough nights on offense, the team was able to win. The bank certainly played a huge role in its ability to do that.
Highlights: Kemba leads Celtics to 118-112 win over Pacers
Here are our thoughts on that and more on our three instant overreactions to the Celtics’ win over the Pacers.
1. The Celtics have found the perfect bench rotation.
Perfect is always a relative term. Could the Celtics have a better bench? Definitely.
But with what they have, did they find the perfect match? It sure feels that way.
Against the Pacers, the Celtics bench put in a top-notch effort throughout the game. Jeff Teague looked rejuvenated en route to a 14-point outing. He drove aggressively to the rim and tied for the team in free throws with eight.
Payton Pritchard made some good effort plays and hit some critical shots, especially in the first half, to help the Cs keep up with Indiana.
Most impressive of all, Robert Williams continued to play at a high level. Williams provided unlimited energy and made tons of plays near the rim on both sides of the ball. He finished the game with 14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and one steal and consolidated his place as the best center on the team.
Those three played an important role in the C’s victory and they should continue to play great minutes off the bench. And once Marcus Smart can return, this four-man bench rotation won’t look bad at all.
That said, this group of backups has yet to show that they can continue to bring this kind of energy each night as the season progresses. So while this was certainly a great performance, it’s too early to definitely call this the perfect bench rotation.
Verdict: mild overreaction
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2. Kemba Walker needs to sit back to back.
Since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the first 11 games of the season, Walker has not been consistent. But one thing he’s always done well has been to play after skipping the last end of the games in a row.
With the extra day of rest at his disposal, Walker looks fresher on the court. And the numbers back it up. Incredibly, in four straight games after missing a back-to-back, Walker has posted a season-high point score.
And in five games coming off a load management day this season, Walker is averaging 24.6 points per game. In all other games combined, he averages 12.8 points per game.
Needless to say, Walker’s effort helped lead the Celtics to victory against the Pacers, while Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown struggled. As long as he plays this well while sitting back in back-to-back games, Cs have to keep sitting him, unless they find themselves in a scenario where they must win.
Verdict: not an overreaction
3. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s shooting problems are cause for concern.
Tatum and Brown haven’t thrown the ball well in recent games. In fact, that may be an understatement.
Against the Pacers, Tatum and Brown 9 of 30 from the field and combined for just 24 points. They also battled the Hawks and combined, they’re shooting just 28.8 percent from the field in those two games.
So that begs the question, are Tatum and Brown’s recent struggles a concern? In a word, no. The Celtics shouldn’t be too worried.
All players go through depressions. That includes budding stars like Tatum and Brown. Most importantly, the two played with better energy against the Pacers and were able to hit some decisive shots to keep Boston in a back-and-forth affair with Indiana.
If this continues in the longer term, then Cs should be concerned. But for now, it’s just a couple of tough games. You don’t need to press the panic button yet.