First things first: Jayson Tatum furthered his Celtics legacy last night by tying Larry Bird for the highest scoring game in team history with 60 points.
The first half of this game was maybe the Celtics worst half of basketball this season. They played terrible defense and gave the Spurs whatever they wanted. Jayson Tatum scored the first 12 points of the game. The next Celtic to score was Tristan Thompson off the bench. Things were getting ugly.
However in the third quarter the energy in the building changed. The Celtics fought back hard. They were so engaged on the defensive end. They were contesting every shot and putting a team effort into rebounding. At the end of the quarter the lead had been cut to 13. After that, all it took was Jayson Tatum going nuclear including 20 points in the fourth and making huge plays in the overtime.
STUDS AND DUDS
Jayson Tatum: I mean, duh. Tatum won this game for the Celtics. He kept it from becoming a total laugher in the first half. He made huge shots down the stretch. Plus, in case you forgot he had 60 (!) points. On 54% shooting from the floor as well as 71% from deep! He also pitched in 8 boards and 5 assists. Oh, he also didn’t turn the ball over. Friday night was just a display of what’s to come from Tatum as he starts to solidify himself as an All-NBA talent and potential MVP candidate.
Aaron Nesmith: While not as impressive as Tatum’s 60, Nesmith set a career high tonight too! He had 16 on 7/9 shooting and ⅔ from deep. What got him the stud title however was his hustle and defense. Nesmith came in during the third when the Celtics were trying to turn it around and absolutely played his heart out. He defended really well and was diving after loose balls. Brad called his number a couple of times after time outs in the fourth and he stuck both looks. Huge game for Nesmith.
HUGE play by Nesmith! pic.twitter.com/0hpe2YrfOK
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 1, 2021
Tristan Thompson: It wasn’t the prettiest performance from TT tonight. The good news is, his job is to do the ugly work. Thompson had 15 rebounds and got 8 of them on the offensive glass. There were multiple times where the Celtics got bailed out and given an extra possession thanks to Thompson’s efforts. He also was locked in on defense, getting two blocks in his time on the floor.
Jaylen Brown: Jaylen went 5/23 from the floor. One of those 5 shots gave the Celtics their lead, it was almost enough for me to forgive him and find 3 other duds. Almost. He couldn’t buy a bucket the whole game. His approach at the beginning of the game was confusing. He wasn’t taking the midrange looks the Spurs were giving him. He’s great in the midrange. Instead he would dribble himself back into defenders. All that said, he made ‘em when it mattered most.
Evan Fournier: I honestly was shocked looking at Fournier’s box score. He had 8 points in 21 minutes on 6 shots. I would like to see him get more than 6 looks in a game. He was a 17 ppg scorer before he got here! It’s not that he played especially poorly, he just seemed lackadaisical. It could be coaching. And look, I’m also not demanding he takes 20 shots a night. I just want to see him looking for his own shot more.
The Jayson Tatum Haters and Doubters: Not sorry! It feels very good to be on the right side of history. I know that Jayson Tatum is special. I know he’s going to be a face of the league for years to come. Not everyone thinks that way. I cannot for the life of me understand why. This game was another demonstration that Tatum has it in him to completely take over a game the way only the biggest stars can. Tristan Thompson put it best. He’s a baaaaaaad man.
"Your daddy is a BAD man" 😂😂pic.twitter.com/4GTCKX3sc1
— Jayson Tatum BR 🇧🇷 (@JaysonTatumBR_) May 1, 2021
SO THAT HAPPENED…
The Celtics overcoming the 32-point deficit was the largest comeback of the season so far. My gut tells me that it will stay that way. It was also the third largest comeback in NBA history. Seeing the team come out and get sucker punched was tough. Seeing the team show some resolve and fight back was excellent. Seeing them fight back and win? Priceless.
SWEAT THE BET
The Celtics were favored by 4.5 points, so the Spurs were able to cover. That moves the Celtics to 31-33 against the spread on the year. The over hit pretty comfortably, even before the overtime period.