Celtics 365: Brown, Williams Help C's End Skid in San Antonio
At this time last year, the Boston Celtics were just beginning their journey through the 2019-20 NBA campaign. Little did they know at the time that it would wind up being the most unprecedented 365-day trek in NBA history.
It took an entire year to complete the season, as a four-month, midseason hiatus in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed playoff basketball all the way into mid-October of 2020. As a result, the beginning of the 2020-21 Season has been pushed back to an undetermined date.
In light of that delay, we want to make sure Celtics basketball remains in your lives this fall, when NBA basketball is usually in full swing. So we’ll be taking you on a 365-day rewind back to last season as we highlight some of the most memorable performances from the campaign - all on the one-year anniversary of each occurrence. We’ll refresh some fun memories while also keeping you in the basketball mindset for when next season begins.
One year ago today, the Boston Celtics accomplished a feat that they had been unable to achieve in nearly a decade: win a game in the city of San Antonio.
Heading into the Nov. 9 matchup, Boston had dropped 14 of its previous 15 games against the Spurs and hadn’t won in the Alamo City since March of 2011.
Not only did the Celtics end their streak, but they did so in dominant fashion with a 135-115 victory, which allowed coach Brad Stevens to check off the final box on his career road city victory list.
At first, things weren’t looking so promising for the Celtics, as they allowed San Antonio to score the first seven points of the game. However, Boston quickly turned things around, as Jaylen Brown scored seven straight points of his own to ignite a 19-3 Celtics run.
That early stretch would set the tone for both Brown and the Celtics, as the fourth-year wing went on to score a game-high 30 points while helping his team maintain a double-digit cushion for nearly the entire night.
This was one of Brown’s most impressive performances of the season, as he returned from missing three games with an illness and did not skip a beat. He made 10 field goals on the night, which included a remarkable 9-of-10 effort from inside the paint. His aggressive attack also helped him earn an abundance of trips to the free-throw line, where he shot a career-best 9-of-10. On top of his scoring, he also led the Celtics with seven rebounds, while also dishing out three assists during 32 minutes of turnover-free action.
Such a performance earned quite a bit of praise from teammate Marcus Smart, who gushed over Brown’s development following the game.
“His ability to just really stay calm and poised out there on the court, you know he’s grown as basketball player a lot,” said Smart, who had to leave the game early in the fourth quarter after suffering a minor groin injury. “A lot of times, we used to see Jaylen go in there out of control. He is very under control. He understands what he’s doing and everything he is doing is for a reason. We are happy and we’re excited for Jaylen and we are proud of his process that he is going through right now. He is going to be a big key for us going down [the stretch].”
Brown wasn’t the only one who impressed during this game. The Celtics also got 26 points and eight assists out of Kemba Walker, a 19-point, seven-rebound, four-assist, three-steal effort out of Jayson Tatum, and 19 points out of Smart off the bench.
The most promising effort of them all, however, was put forth by Robert Williams. The second-year big man set new career highs in the scoring and shot-blocking departments, tallying 11 points and six blocks, to go along with seven rebounds and two assists during 22 minutes of turnover-free action. He also didn’t miss the net a single time, shooting a perfect 5-for-5 from the field, while also making his only free-throw attempt.
One of those buckets happened to be one of the most electrifying dunks of the Celtics’ season, which you've gotta check out below.
While the Celtics’ offense stole the show, their defense also pulled off some solid feats, the most impressive of which was limiting LaMarcus Aldridge to just three points on 1-of-4 shooting from the field during 26 minutes of action. For reference, the seven-time All-Star had averaged 40.0 points per game against Boston the previous season, which included a 48-point outing at TD Garden.
Moreover, this was only the second time in the last 10 seasons in which Aldridge was limited to fewer than four points in a game; the only other instance was a two-point outing against Washington on Feb. 14, 2012, which was a result of him only seeing two minutes of action after suffering a first-quarter injury.
Even though there were plenty of reasons for the Celtics to celebrate their well-rounded victory in San Antonio, there was a bittersweet aura inside the visitor’s locker room following the game. That’s because in the midst of it all, Gordon Hayward broke the fourth metacarpal in his left hand while colliding with Aldridge during the second quarter, which would result in him missing the next month of action.
It was a particularly tough break because Hayward had been playing the best basketball of his Celtics career up until that point, having averaged 20.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game through the first seven contests of the campaign.
Yet, even without Hayward, the Celtics continued their hot start to the 2019-20 Season and compiled a 16-5 record by the time he returned at the quarter-season mark. One of the most impressive games of that entire stretch, which included a 10-game winning streak, was Boston’s blowout in San Antonio one year ago today, which marked their largest win on the Spurs’ home court since a 137-108 victory on March 4, 1980.