BOSTON (CBS) — No matter the officiating, no matter whether the Golden State Warriors played their best, give the Celtics their due. A win is a win is a win, But as is always the case, there were positives and negatives on display last night in the sea of green last night at the TD Garden.
Jaylen Brown. Brown hasn’t looked like it this year, but he’s still a young guy. And against the best team in the world, here’s what he did: 22 points and seven rebounds while shooting 3-of-8 from 3-point distance and 5-of-6 from the line. Fine, so he didn’t have an assist. But he didn’t have a turnover, either, and if he wasn’t the best Celtic from beginning to end. It’s only because the next guy was.
Al Horford. That big jump hook late in the fourth quarter was just the tip of the iceberg. If Golden State has a hole, it’s in the middle, where they can be exposed by someone who can operate in the post. Horford was that guy last night, going 7-for-7 on 2-pointers. He also had a game-high 11 rebounds and finished a team-best plus-16. He did the little things, as usual. And some big ones.
Marcus Morris. Maybe it’s just me, but Morris made some big shots when the Celtics needed them, including 2-of-5 from 3-point distance. This shouldn’t come as a surprise given Morris’ reputation, but he didn’t bat an eye when confronted with the best team in basketball. Some guys play timid in the bigger games, against better competition. Some guys just aren’t afraid of anything. Morris is one of the latter.
Jayson Tatum. Look, we all like him. But truth be told, Tatum was invisible for much of this game, often looking overmatched and on his heels. Did he make a couple of plays late. Sure. And he made some free throws. But for the first time in his Celtics existence, Tatum looked like a boy playing against men, which is exactly what he was.
Marcus Smart. We all love the intangibles – and Smart has them in bulk – but this game was a statistical disaster. Smart went 0-for-7 overall, 0-for-3 from long distance, 1-for-2 from the line … and actually cost the Celtics two points when he knocked a ball out of the netting and back out the top of the cylinder. (Ever seen that before?) Somehow, he was a plus-15. But it felt like his teammates carried him far more than the other way around.
Kyrie Irving. Was he dreadful? No. But he wasn’t close to being his best, either. Irving led all scorers with 11 points in the fourth quarter, but seven of them were from the free-throw line. (Fact: he got every call.) No one is saying he’s bad, or overrated, or a mistake. But he shot 4-of-16 overall and 1-of-5 from distance. The good news? He was better than Steph Curry, who outright stunk.