Boston returned home Wednesday for it’s first back-to-back clash of the season with a young Memphis Grizzlie team dealing with injury issues and sans flamboyant Ja Morant, after the Celtics split the two-game series with Indiana. The Celtics would look to cobble together a different starting unit inserting veteran Jeff Teague at the point guard slot. The move came after Tristan Thompson would sit out the second night of a B2B in his return from a hamstring strain that saw the big man miss both the preseason and training camp.
Jeff Teague is starting for Boston tonight. Celtics go small with Tristan Thompson sitting out.
— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) December 31, 2020
The small ball Celtics would be immediately shaken up as Daniel Theis left the floor with a hand issue following a hard strip from Tyus Jones, he would later return with his hand strapped. Boston rattled off several quick points behind Teague and a supremely confident Jaylen Brown with a no hesitation transition triple. Brown then had a strip and got out in the open court for a flush as Boston got off to an early lead on a 12-0 run.
The Memphis Grizzlies who took the Nets to overtime for a win in the previous game would scrap to stay close to Boston as the Celtics were careless early with 6 Turnovers in the first quarter. With Morant out, Tyus Jones and Dillon Brooks would step up to keep the pace high for Memphis. The taped hand for Daniel would not restrict the big man though as got to the line on consecutive plays. Rookie Payton Pritchard injected some intensity for Boston on an end to end layup to secure a 31-19 lead.
Showing no ill affects from the hand sprain Daniel Theis ran the floor and had a monster dunk over Jonas Valanciunas. Jayson Tatum would come alive big time for Boston with 3 three-pointers in the quarter to further extended the lead for Boston.
The C’s were putting their hands into the cookie jar with eight Celtics players registering steals midway into the quarter. Not to be outdone defensively, Boston and specifically Jaylen Brown who went supernova shooting the three ball as Brown would go 6-7 from three on 7-9 in the quarter. Brown’s hot shooting 2nd quarter was certainly the highlight as he reeled off a 26-point half on 10-14 shooting as the Celtics rode a massive 26 point lead finishing it 66-40.
Teague’s insertion in the starting unit showed promise for Boston as he looked to facilitate, feeding Theis for a running one handed dunk to get things going. Theis was active on both ends for Boston including in the eyes of the Refs, as the war on Theis led to his fourth foul and a seat on the Boston bench.
With Theis taking an enforced breather, Robert Williams III brought the energy as he did last night in Indy, protecting the rim, breaking up plays with active long arms and catching and dunking on a Jayson Tatum lob pass. Timelord even got in on the passing, with an expert tip pass from inside the key to Marcus Smart for a corner three pointer. A play later he dropped a neat bounce pass to JB for the layin.
Jaylen Brown managed to post a new career high in points with 42, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals with time to spare in the 3rd and Coach Brad Stevens allowed him to play out the remainder of the quarter that would end 96-71.
Both Brown and Tatum (16 points in 23 minutes) were subbed out by Brad Stevens as Boston went full Gino time in the fourth. Payton Pritchard (8 points, 3 assists) would line up alongside the Williams’, Nesmith and Carsen Edwards and it was Payton would continue to flash that crafty play. As the time wore down on a broken played Payton, would flip up an extended layin amongst three defenders. Pritchard and Williams III (6 points, 10 rebounds) have developed a good chemistry as they connected on a neat lob play that saw the bench get up.
Not to be outdone, Carsen Edwards (9 points in 12 minutes) scored a triple on a great ISO play and we even got a Tacko Fall sighting late in the game as every player on the roster would score for Boston.
Boston next face Detroit on Jan 1st for yet another two-game away stint.