#1 Typically, gamers get sizzling
The Boston Celtics noticed one of the best variations of Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Each scored at a excessive clip, made fast reads, and manipulated Boston’s protection. Typically, star gamers get sizzling, and nothing you do can throw them off. When that occurs, all you are able to do is attempt to make life as tough as doable and reside with the outcomes.
Murray hit 15 of his 21 pictures. Jokic hit 14 of his 22. It’s not like they have been discovering straightforward lanes and going through a sagging protection. This may sound dismissive, and it’s not meant that means, however it’s what it’s at that time. You flip your consideration to the function gamers and look to restrict their affect, hoping you possibly can outscore two star skills.
The Celtics did nullify the remainder of Denver’s rotation. Aaron Gordon went 0-for-6. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope went 2-of-6. Reggie Jackson was 2-of-4. Peyton Watson was 4-of-11. Michael Porter Jr discovered methods to get his buckets.
#2 Jaylen Brown struggled
He wasn’t terrible. He simply wasn’t the model of Jaylen Brown we’ve grow to be accustomed to over the previous couple of months. Credit score to the Nuggets protection, they discovered methods to restrict his athleticism and strain his shot makes an attempt. Nonetheless, it is video games like this the place Brown might be judged. In opposition to elite competitors, enjoying on your private home ground, you’ve acquired to seek out methods to make a distinction.
That may be on the glass, as a cutter, being extra lively off the ball, or taking over a much bigger function defensively. At instances, Brown was a spectator within the sport. That’s not all on him, although. Joe Mazzulla made a number of alterations through the sport, and none of them particularly featured Brown. Nor did his teammates look to place him in higher positions.
However, this was amongst his worst video games of the season. We all know how good he’s. We all know what he’s able to. Now, he must do it in opposition to one of the best of one of the best. There might be loads of time for that through the postseason, although.
#3 Tatum’s scoring vanished, however he helped in different methods
Brown wasn’t the one one having a nasty sport. When it comes to scoring, Jayson Tatum struggled, too. His perimeter shot wasn’t falling. He had bother preventing via contact and constantly getting a end across the rim, too. Nonetheless, Tatum discovered different methods to make an affect. He led the sport in deflections. He rebounded. He hustled on protection. And he discovered methods to create for others.
Right here’s a stable instance of how Tatum was making a distinction defensively. Jokic has discovered a method to lose the protection and re-locate into the paint. Tatum reveals some persistence and waits for the cross to be made earlier than darting over from the weak to deflect the ball and drive an inbounds play, thus giving the Celtics time to reset their protection and look to get a cease.
We regularly overlook the little moments like these when it’s a star participant. In Tatum’s case, his breakaway dunk that drew a technical foul will probably be among the many major speaking factors. Nonetheless, on an evening when his shot wasn’t falling, and Brown was struggling too, Tatum plugged gaps elsewhere on the courtroom.
After all, it will have been good if Boston’s two finest gamers may have matched the output of Murray and Jokic. There might be different alternatives to bounce again, although.
#4 Two elite defenses
We’ve seen the Celtics rack up 50,60,70 factors by halftime. Denver held them to 100 over 4 full quarters. The Nuggets are presently ranked because the league’s Twelfth-ranked protection. Boston is the second-ranked protection. Each are anticipated to make a giant push for the NBA Finals. As such, it made sense that we noticed either side increase their sport and look to make an announcement.
I had some particular clips I wished to share regarding the defensive execution, however the NBA web site hasn’t launched the video but — which is why at the moment’s takeaways are predominantly written.
Nonetheless, I favored the battles we noticed. Each Mazzulla and Mike Malone examined issues out. Modifications have been made. Counters have been deployed. There’s a cause so many gamers had robust taking pictures nights. And that’s what makes Murray and Jokic’s scoring so irritating — as a result of they have been hitting pictures, you’ll count on them to overlook.
#5 Kristaps Porzingis shone
With Brown struggling, Porzingis took over as Boston’s featured first-quarter scorer. He scored 15 factors on 4-of-5 taking pictures and hit all his free throws. The remainder of the sport was a bit extra of a battle for the large man as he navigated a number of coverages. Nonetheless, he ended the competition as one in every of Boston’s higher performers and, for probably the most half, held his personal in opposition to Nikola Jokic, who proved to be a handful for whoever was tasked with guarding him.
Nonetheless, this was a superb check for the Celtics. It was elite massive man versus elite massive man. Each groups look to stretch the protection with their spacing, and each wish to create benefits on the perimeter earlier than punishing the gaps within the lanes.
Porzingis ran the ground effectively. Was a prepared screener. Protected the rim. And made probably the most of his offensive alternatives.
#6 Gettin’ Nerdy With It: Wedge actions
One among Boston’s finest weapons is getting both Tatum or Porzingis into the publish. They’ve been stellar from that a part of the ground this season, so it is sensible they went to one in every of them with the opening motion of the sport.
Within the above clip, Brown units a wedge display screen for Porzingis after Tatum had rejected the hand-off motion with Derrick White. White’s minimize and switch towards the sideline triggered Murray to lose monitor of what was taking place on the weak, permitting Porzingis to get a dominant place and finish the play with a robust slam.
Right here’s one other wedge motion, this time for Tatum to get onto the sturdy aspect and assault the mismatch — which is why Payton Pritchard was the one setting the wedge display screen.
The Celtics went away from publish actions as the sport wore on. Denver started pre-switching some screens to negate the benefit, so Boston started creating benefits on the perimeter or trying to drive the lane extra often.
#7 Gettin’ Nerdy With It Half 2: Slice Twirl
Simply wished to level out this play. I’m a sucker for when groups string actions collectively. Boston goes to a 21 reset, then runs a slice twirl motion, which creates a rotation and switches earlier than getting Tatum the ball within the publish.
Good course of with an unlucky end result.
In a sport the place each coaches are mixing issues up, it’s good to see some creativity from Mazzulla and the gamers. It’s little wrinkles like that that may flip the circulation of a sport or unlock one thing to assault for a number of possessions.
#8 Refs have to cease punishing dunks
One other fast thought. The rule about hanging on the rim wants to vary. Dunks are some of the entertaining issues about basketball. They encourage a crew. They get the gang fired up. And so they usually go viral, which is nice publicity for the league itself.
Punishing gamers for guaranteeing their security and exhibiting some emotion is illogical. The rule wants altering or eradicating.
#9 Derrick White
24 factors, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block. Fairly customary evening on the workplace for White. As soon as once more, he discovered methods to plug gaps based mostly on what the crew wanted. He emerged as Boston’s most dependable perimeter shooter. Pressured the rim when given a chance and operated in an off-ball function by dragging defenders with him on cuts.
The choice to make a v-cut on this chin motion created sufficient area for White to get an excellent take a look at the rim. It’s small little snap selections like that which set him aside. He reads the sport at an excellent tempo, usually makes the correct choice and executes at an excellent degree. I truthfully don’t know the best way to preserve praising him with out repeating myself.
#10 This could be a tremendous collection
Give me a seven-game collection between these two groups. The basketball on show could be electrical. Each rosters have methods of attacking and countering one another. There are among the finest gamers on this planet on the courtroom, and the teaching employees isn’t afraid to throw issues on the wall to see what sticks.
An NBA Finals collection between the Celtics and Nuggets could be a battle. I can’t think about it will be over shortly. However I do really feel assured the Celtics have sufficient expertise to beat Denver. They misplaced by two factors with their finest two gamers struggling whereas Denver’s finest two gamers struggled to overlook.
For the report, I favored the idea of enjoying Jokic with a single defender. He’s too good of a passer to be sending doubles his means, and the Nuggets have their justifiable share of shooters and rip-through threats. Simply wished so as to add that in.
Bought a back-to-back on the horizon. The Celtics face the Houston Rockets on Sunday after which the Dallas Mavericks on Monday. Powerful stretch. It does imply we get two straight days of Celtics basketball, although. So, I’m not going to be upset with that! For now, although, I hope you’ve got an excellent weekend, and I’ll be again with the takeaways on Monday — after we hopefully have extra movie obtainable to dive a bit of deeper.