The Celtics continue to link performances that invite you to trust them. It is no longer just the good run of results, but specific games in which they show that they can be a tough rival for the best teams in the NBA – last night they did so against Memphis.
Although they were without Jaylen Brown due to a recent ankle injury, Boston managed the game to add another win comfortably. Ja Morant had 38 points in another display, but couldn’t stop the Greens from shooting up to a 17-point lead midway through the fourth quarter. On this occasion, Tennessee did not give themselves the opportunity to win against one of the best defenses in the competition.
And we say the best because the numbers emphasize it. Memphis hasn’t dropped below 110 points since January 24 (last night it was 107). And if you look at the Celtics, they have held their rival to under 100 points in 10 of their last 18 games. Ime Udoka has turned his boys into a rock based on what goes on under his own hoops.
Adding to the notable step forward defensively is Jayson Tatum playing really well. The forward, who celebrated his 24th birthday against the Grizzlies, at times starred in a great duel with Morant to finish signing 37 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. “I think it was one of those great moments: two guys trying hard and doing what they can to try and lead their team to victory. It just ended up happening as a kind of give and take,” he explains.
Tatum was great, but he had help. The inside game of the Greens, so criticized in recent years, was at a high level; so much so that Al Hoford signed a double-double of 21 points and 15 rebounds, which was seconded by Robert Williams with 10 points and 12 rebounds. Marcus Smart’s 18 points and 12 assists cannot be overlooked either.
Mistake in Memphis
Having stumbles along the way, even if it is as bright as these Grizzlies, is normal. Against the Celtics they did not have the best of their games, but Taylor Jenkins is satisfied with the effort of his boys.
“We were missing shots that we normally hit. Whether it’s a hook or a jumper… We couldn’t really score that often, but even in that situation we stayed close. You also have to give them credit. They played very well as a team and obviously Tatum fulfilled his part », comments the head coach.
Beyond Morant, the performances of Jaren Jackson Jr. (20 points and 7 rebounds) and Desmond Bane (17 points and 7 rebounds) are also noteworthy.
(Photograph by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)