Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart exploded to carry Boston over an obnoxiously resilient Clippers squad.
An early observation that might be invalidated by the time I’m done writing is that Kemba Walker still has a bit of trouble against teams like the Clippers who have plenty of size and can switch on defense. The three-pointer he took near the end of the first felt kind of like “If I don’t take this shot now, I might not be open again for a while” instead of “this is my shot!”
From about two minutes left in the quarter:
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart have 24 of Boston’s 26 points.— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) February 14, 2020
32-30 Clippers lead after 1.
A lot of give-and-take in the second quarter. Kanter gets a quick layup, followed by a foul. The Clippers are just a really smart offensive team that can get to their spots, which lets them dance around Kanter and take advantage of Grant. Having them as the backline to Lou Williams initiating the offense while guarded by Brad Wanamaker is especially dangerous.
Kemba got himself into double digit scoring with a four-point play, followed by a tough and-1 (where he missed the FT).
60-58 Celtics lead at the half. The Clippers announced that Paul George would sit out the second half around the end of the quarter.
TNT cut the first 40 seconds of the quarter because of course they did. God forbid we get through one broadcast on this channel without aging an extra seven years. Through my box score detective work, I’ve concluded the three points Boston scored in the lost footage was a Gordon Hayward shot.
The biggest difference in this quarter is ball movement. The Celtics were pretty light on the assists throughout the first half, but Smart and Kemba were able to drive and kick to open three-point shooters early in the third.
Tatum wrapped up the quarter with a LOUD dunk, followed by a silky stepback three.
91-87 Celtics after three. Feeling eerily similar to when they took a lead into the fourth quarter when they played in LA.
Some character development: Wanamaker tried to go coast-to-coast on one fast break and it was a disaster. On the next attempt he threw a (bad) pass to Smart in transition to Smart, who drilled a three. For a guy with a reputation of never passing I am ecstatic that he found the right play there.
Jayson Tatum has become AUTOMATIC. When he works in isolation, he makes it so much easier on himself than before. He gets to his spot, elevates, and hits the shot without the trouble of shaking, baking, faking, contemplating, faking again, and then shooting.
The Celtics gave up a disastrous offensive rebound to Marcus Morris, who tied the game at 114 with about 42 seconds left. They turned the ball over immediately after.
Kawhi Leonard, guarded by Hayward and eventually double-teamed by Kemba, committed an offensive foul by throwing an elbow into Kemba’s face while making his move. Boston gets the ball with 10.7 on the clock.
The Celtics couldn’t get the ball to Tatum on the last play and found Kemba instead, who missed at the buzzer.
114-114 going to OT.
Again, we missed the first 30 seconds so TNT could run an ad. Somebody on the Clippers scored a basket in that time, so that’s cool.
Theis fouls out, but Harrell misses both free throws.
Lou Williams is a huge problem. I really feel like the Celtics guard him well, and he torches them regardless.
Celtics went down by four to a Morris three, and immediately wrestled the lead back on a deep pull-up from Smart and a post move from Tatum, who got the stop against Kawhi.
[By this point I think my brain has fully turned into oatmeal mixed with peanut butter. TNT has aged my conscience an extra seven years.]
Tatum extends the lead to three after, once again, successfully guarding Kawhi and getting into the paint.
Shamet ties the game with a three, sending the game to a second overtime.
SECOND OVERTIME PLEASE JUST END IT:
2nd overtime, i stopped writing coherently at the end of the fourth Q pic.twitter.com/iq2duHTnVI— Jeremy (@Taco_Haus) February 14, 2020
Both teams are clearly gassed. Kemba hits Shamet with the signature stepback and drills a three. The light at the end of the tunnel glows as incandescent as ever.
GRANT comes up with a massive block on protect a two point lead. Tatum gets to the rim again, floats delicately mid-air, and extends the lead to four.
Montezl Harrell cuts it to two by dunking Grant through the floorboards. Basically every play is a highlight now.
Hayward comes up with a huge block on Lou Williams, deflecting the ball off him to regain possession. He hits two free throws, putting the Celtics up seven, before immediately stealing an inbound and drawing another foul with 12.3 seconds left. Finally, we’re free.
Tatum finishes with 39. Marcus Smart with 31. Final score: 141-133
-I’m tired. Don’t ask me to write anything for a week.