The Boston Celtics earn their first victory inside the NBA bubble, defeating the Phoenix Suns 110-93 on the strength of Jaylen Brown.
The Boston Celtics shook off more of the rust obtained from the NBA’s lay-off and showed great progressions in doing so during their second scrimmage against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday afternoon.
After their loss to the Thunder on Friday, one of the biggest areas of concern that Celtics head coach Brad Stevens emphasized was the importance of his players being more vocal and communicative while on the court.
“We’re a fairly quiet group, generally, and I think that’s going to have to change, collectively, just because of this environment. It’s so unique that the collective voice of a group is going to be important. I think everyone is going to have to make sure that they do their best to communicate and help each other through.” – Brad Stevens, per John Karalis of MassLive
The Celtics displayed more communication that Stevens is craving from his players in this second scrimmage against Phoenix. Mainly from the usual guys we’ve seen be rather talkative all season (especially in transition) in Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and even Grant Williams when he gets his time on the floor.
This game turned out to be a huge step in the right direction for the Celtics as we inch closer to the NBA restart, the remaining eight regular season seeding games, and of course, the playoffs.
Brown played a perfect game from start to finish. He led the Celtics by scoring 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting, connected on 3-of-6 of his 3-point shot attempts and hit all of his free throw attempts going 4-of-4 from the line. He also impressively drove through the lane and straight to the hoop for what looked like easy buckets on multiple possessions.
What was most impressive about Brown in this game was his ability to create space for himself and ultimately take-and-make almost any shot he wanted. Similar to what we see from Jayson Tatum, Brown is using a slight hesitation spin move to create just enough space to get off his shot in almost an uncontested area.
Coach Stevens gave Brown some high and much earned praise after their first win in the NBA bubble on Sunday afternoon.
“I see a guy that’s continuing to add experience on experience. He’s a huge part of our team and we’re going to need him to be good to have a chance.” – Brad Stevens
Some other noteworthy takeaways from this game included Tatum’s ability to bounce back from the team’s first scrimmage on Friday and turn the heat back on for the Celtics’ second scrimmage of this restarting season. Although he missed his first four shots, Tatum finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, and two assists while playing a team-high 28 minutes.
There was a play just prior to halftime where Tatum read the defense perfectly, intercepted a pass, and took it all the way for a fast-break dunk on the other end. His defensive intensity (as is everyone’s) and ability to read/ predict what an offense is trying to do is going to become an X-factor for the C’s moving forward into the playoffs.
It’s definitely something that is obtained through experience, and regardless of Tatum only being 21 years old and only in his third season, he does in fact have that said experience for a young player, especially in the playoffs.
The overall defense was great, but it got off to a slow start. The Celtics were outscored and allowed 32 points in the first quarter. There were times where the extra ball movement from the Suns was too much for the Celtics, resulting in leaving a player open for an uncontested shot on multiple occasions. A positive note about the defense is that it improved as the game progressed, which was a huge factor in the C’s earning the victory.
Kemba Walker made his NBA bubble debut, which is a huge sigh of relief for the Boston Celtics. In just under 10 minutes of play, Walker showcased that he is back and ready to go even if it is in limited minutes for the time being leading into the playoffs. Early on in the game, Walker was making acrobatic layups, driving to the hoop, and really displayed that he is on the up-and-up following the issues with his knees he has been dealing with since before the All-Star break.
Having Walker back in the lineup helped make the second unit more complete as Smart was in command of the second unit, rather than being in the starting lineup. All in all, Walker back in the lineup levels-out the entire direction of the team, but especially the second unit.
All in all, this is a great step in the right direction for the Boston Celtics as they inch closer to their first game of the initial restart against the Milwaukee Bucks.