It was a battle between two of the NBA’s best clubs Wednesday night, with the Boston Celtics defeating the visiting New Orleans Pelicans 125-114. Boston entered Wednesday’s action atop the standings in the eastern conference, while New Orleans holds the third seed out west.
Injuries took a little bit of shine off of the game’s apple, however. The Celtics were without Robert Williams III and Marcus Smart, while Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson remained sidelined for the Pelicans.
Instead, some of the star power came from the sidelines. Both Rafael Devers of the Boston Red Sox and Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots were in attendance.
Jaylen Brown provided perhaps the most razzle dazzle for the evening. He finished with 41 points and 12 rebounds, leading Boston to a resounding home victory. (Jayson Tatum chipped in 31 points and 10 rebounds of his own from him.)
With this result the Celtics grab their fourth straight win and 30th of the season. Here’s what you may have missed.
Boston’s bench came to play
The Celtics were without Smart and Williams Wednesday night, the club’s two defensive anchors. Smart is nursing a leg contusion and taking things “day by day,” according to head coach Joe Mazzulla. Williams, meanwhile, sat out as part of on-going injury rehab. Williams won’t play in back to back games anytime soon, and Boston has a big matchup against the Nets in Brooklyn Thursday night.
Evidently Boston’s bench abhors a vacuum, because much of the team’s success in this one can be attributed to role players who stepped up. Malcolm Brogdon more than answered the call. Brogdon finished the night with 20 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Derrick White, Grant Williams, and Al Horford also deserve high praise. They might not have stuffed the stat sheet, but it was well-rounded effort from the entire Boston roster wire to wire.
Small ball reigned supreme
With some of the aforementioned injuries, the Celtics and the Pelicans were both down a few key big men in particular. New Orleans head coach Willie Green followed coach Mazzulla in playing extra small as a result. Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes logged just 41 minutes combined for the visiting team. Al Horford and Luke Kornet collectively played 46 minutes.
With both teams opting to go small, the offense was the story for both clubs. The two teams had a collective 46 assists and 178 field goal attempts.
The 3-point shot also played a major role for Boston. The Celtics weren’t particularly efficient to say, butt the sheer volume of attempts from 3 helped juice the home team’s offense. Celtics team shot 15-for-44 from deep overall.
Boston’s high octane offense isn’t always the prettiest. Sometimes the formula rewards volume rather than efficiency. But on a night where both teams opted to play small and fast, the Celtics were just a little bit better.
For usual – Boston’s stars won the day
Yes, the Celtics role players collectively stepped up on Wednesday. And the geography of this matchup allowed for some extra offensive oomph. But as is so often the case for Boston, it was Tatum and Brown who won the day.
Brown was particularly good in this one. He finished the first half with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and ended the night with 41 points and 12 rebounds.
Jayson Tatum, meanwhile, contributed 31 points of his own. Together Boston’s two stars helped secure a victory for the Celtics. Boston hits the road for a tilt Thursday night in Brooklyn.
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