On Sunday night, the Boston Celtics easily defeated the incredibly inexperienced Memphis Grizzlies team.
For the game, Memphis’ injury report had 13 players, including Marcus Smart, the former guard for the Clippers, and star guard Ja Morant. Even though Smart was unable to play against his old team, the players and devoted supporters in attendance gave him a hearty welcome back to TD Garden.
In terms of the actual game, the Celtics struggled early on but got hot in the second half. They went on a 24-6 run to close the first half and continued to push forward, winning 131-91 to demonstrate their superiority. They won by their second-biggest margin of victory and gave up the fewest points they have given up all season.
The C’s were led by fellow All-Star Jayson Tatum (34 points) and Kristaps Porzingis (26 points) in the absence of Jaylen Brown (low back tightness). Neemias Queta, a two-way big man, made an impact in just nine minutes as Boston rested its bench to begin the fourth quarter. He finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and two steals.The Grizzlies’ top scorers were Scotty Pippen Jr. (19 points) and GG Jackson (18 points).
After taking two days off, the Celtics (38-12) will play the Atlanta Hawks (22-27) on Wednesday night to continue their homestand. Here are the first three lessons learned from Sunday’s events.Jayson Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis have no responses.
A rested Tatum gorged himself on the menial, impotent Grizzlies.
With 11 points in the first quarter, the five-time All-Star got off to a quick start. He continued to improve throughout the game, scoring 12 more points in the second half to lead by 23 points at the break.In the third, Tatum kept making it look simple and assisted Boston in pulling away. The 25-year-old finished the game with a commanding advantage after recording 34 points, eight rebounds, seven assists, and a steal. Of his 22 shots, he converted 12 of them, including 6 of his 12 3-pointers.
In addition, Porzingis helped Tatum put the game out of reach, as the Grizzlies were unable to contain him. With 17 of his points coming in the first half, the 7-foot-2 Latvian finished with 26 points (10-17 FG, 2-5 3-PT). Before sitting the entire fourth quarter, he finished with eight rebounds, two assists, two blocks, and a steal in just 27 minutes.After three quarters, Tatum and Porzingis had combined for 60 points on 22 of 39 shots.
When they play the Hawks on Wednesday night, they’ll be armed with more fresh legs. For Porzingis, who has recently dealt with some ankle concerns, that is especially crucial.
There’s Jordan Walsh on the board.
Before tonight, Jordan Walsh, a rookie with the Celtics, had only played in two games during the regular season. On January 17, in his NBA debut, he grabbed four rebounds in only three minutes. On January 25, in the second game versus the Miami Heat, he recorded his first assist in just three minutes as well.
Walsh and the rest of Boston’s backups got their moment to shine, with the game all but decided going into the fourth quarter. He made advantage of his opportunity as the 38th overall choice of the Boston Celtics in the 2023 NBA Draft.
With a powerful transition dunk, Walsh scored his first points in the NBA, to the delight of the TD Garden crowd.In his eight minutes, Walsh only attempted one shot. Prior to receiving the game ball, the Arkansas product recorded an assist and a rebound.
Boston welcomes Marcus Smart back with open arms.
The much-anticipated return of Marcus Smart overshadowed the contest. The veteran Celtics guard was making his first trip to TD Garden after being traded to Memphis in the three-team trade that sent Porzingis to Boston last summer.
Smart received a standing ovation from C’s supporters as he entered the arena prior to tip-off, demonstrating their respect for him. He also stopped to say hello to some of his old teammates.
During the first quarter, the Celtics honored Smart with a moving tribute film. Following, there was another standing ovation and screams of “We love Marcus” from the crowd.