Jayson Tatum has been the best player in basketball since he returned from the All-Star break. I don’t want to hear an argument against that because I really don’t see one. Tatum closed out this four game road trip averaging 34.5 points a game on 57 percent shooting. Yes, FIFTY-SEVEN PERCENT from the field…insane. Tatum did it again Wednesday night with 33 points and 11 rebounds in a 114-103 win in Utah. He’s playing like a man possessed right now and I could go on and on about him, but I’ll hold back. I wouldn’t be doing anyone justice without paying my respect to Donovan Mitchell. He was unreal Wednesday night. Mitchell had 37 points 5 rebounds and 5 assists, and the Celtics didn’t have answer for him. Fortunately for the C’s, no one else on Utah could make shots. Really, it was pretty sloppy offensively to start for both teams, but with two top ten defenses going at it, you kind of expect good looks to be at a premium.
Here’s just a glimpse of Tatum’s night:
It looked like Tatum was going to need to do it himself after the first half ended. Tatum had 25 of his 33 points in the first two quarters and was shooting 10-13 from the field. The rest of the starters? A BRUTAL 28 points on 8-26 shooting combined….that’s TOUGH, man. Especially considering the Celtics pretty much rely solely on their starters for scoring production. Luckily, the reinforcements were there in the second half. Jaylen Brown took over the third quarter. When Tatum went to the bench, Brown reminded us once again he’s really good, too, and scored seven straight points. It helped ignite a Celtic’s offense that was looking pretty lackluster. Then, it was Marcus Smart’s turn in the fourth. After starting 0-5 from three, he rattled off three straight threes to put the Celts up 13, which seemingly took the Jazz out of it. It wasn’t sexy, but Daniel Theis’ game cannot be ignored. He was consistent and helped keep the Celtics afloat despite some offensive struggles in the first half. His stat line won’t blow you away, 16 points and 7 boards, but they don’t leave Utah with a win without him. Theis was a big reason Rudy Gobert could never get going, and let me tell you, I never thought that would be something I write down.
This was a road trip to remember for Jayson Tatum, but no one wants to get back to Boston more quickly than Gordon Hayward. He was bad tonight. It was easy to see from his body language coming back to Utah was hard for him. It’s even tougher considering the Jazz faithful boo’ed him every time he touched the ball. Literally, every time. I mean, I respect it from Jazz fans, but it looked like it got to Hayward and took him out of the game. He still mustered up 12 points, but on a poor 4-12 shooting. He had some really good looks, too, the stroke just wasn’t there.
Don’t get it twisted, this is an impressive win for the Celtics. Game two of a back-to-back closing out a West Coast trip, the Celts easily could’ve phoned it in and said just get us back to Boston. But, they came out with some fire Wednesday night, especially defensively, must’ve read my blog following the Blazers game. They were putting pressure on the Jazz all night and were contesting almost every shot. That’s the Celtics defense I know and love. They head back to Boston finishing 3-1 on the road trip and are now only a game back of Toronto for the 2 seed in the East. The C’s have more than earned this nice two day break before facing the Rockets back at the Garden on Saturday.
Hopefully, they use that time to get healthy. Yes, I’m talking to you, Kemba.