The Boston Celtics closed their six-game road trip with a massive 132-109 victory over the Sacramento Kings. The following are the takeaways from the game:
The Celtics Re-Energized and Engaged:
With a reasonable amount of rest and a fully healthy roster, the Celtics looked re-energized and re-engaged. The Kings were on the second night of a back-to-back and faded a bit down the stretch, but the Celtics moved the ball (33 assists) and made their 3-pointers as a result (40.9 percent). The stars looked like stars, the role players looked like stars in their roles, and the defense looked significantly better.
The Celtics’ Offense was Humming:
The Celtics made 18 3-pointers in the game. Of those 18, all but two triples were assisted. A team can amass those numbers only when they move the ball at a high level. Meanwhile, six came from a hockey assist (a player passing directly to a player who directly picks up the assist).
Jayson Tatum’s Strong Performance as a Scorer:
As has been the case often this season, Jayson Tatum was excellent as a scorer (36 points, 14-for-25 shooting), but not as a shooter. Tatum was just 2-for-7 from behind the arc, but he punished the Kings getting into the paint and scoring around the rim, as well as operating out of the post and in the mid-range.
Robert Williams’ Return to the Floor:
In his return to the floor after suffering a hamstring injury, Robert Williams came off the bench to play 20 minutes and finished with six points, seven rebounds, and a blocked shot. He didn’t provide spacing as a vertical threat like he has in the past, but he did score a pair of field goals as an outlet for passers in the paint.
Jaylen Brown’s Stellar Performance:
On the day that a story on The Ringer caused a lot of consternation among Celtics fans about Jaylen Brown’s future in Boston, Brown dropped 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting. His All-NBA prospects (which greatly affect his contract negotiations next year) remain a little murky — partly because his position remains a little murky — but his recent stretch of play has him in the conversation.
Celtics vs. the Bucks and the 76ers:
The Bucks went on their massive winning streak and took over first place, and the 76ers went on a big run recently as well. But the Celtics still have a head-to-head against the Bucks, and the Sixers have the toughest schedule remaining of any team in the league by winning percentage with a road trip on the horizon.
Celtics’ Slump was Poorly Timed:
The Celtics’ slump was poorly timed. This close to the playoffs, a performance like Tuesday feels like it takes on extra significance too. In the same way that it was reactionary to declare the Celtics doomed just because they lost to the Jazz on the second night of a short-handed back-to-back, it would be reactionary to declare them fully functional again just because they beat the Kings. But the way the Celtics played when fully rested and almost fully healthy is enough to shine a much more encouraging light on a 4-2 road trip.
In conclusion, the Celtics’ game against the Kings on Tuesday was a significant improvement over their previous performances. The team looked re-energized and re-engaged, and the stars and role players shone in their respective roles. The offense was humming, and the defense was significantly better.