Brown, Teague Lead Celtics To First Complete-Game Win of Season
The Boston Celtics just tossed the basketball version of a complete game.
They controlled Wednesday night from start to finish while shutting down the visiting Grizzlies to the tune of a 126-107 victory. Boston led by as many as 32 points during the contest and was spearheaded by a career-best performance from Jaylen Brown, who needed only 29 minutes of action to set a new career high in scoring with 42 points.
This victory was so dominant that the Celtics required only 14 total seconds of action from their starting unit during the fourth quarter – one of the truest indications of a complete NBA performance.
“For the most part we came out with the right intensity, the right mentality, and we played hard as a team at both ends,” Brad Stevens said of the win.
Those characteristics were evident from the opening tip of this contest. Boston attacked the Grizzlies at both ends of the court, which led to a 31-19 lead following the first period.
All five of Boston’s starters scored four or more points during the opening quarter, led by eight from Brown. Six members of the team scored overall during the first frame.
Brown, who filmed a personal highlight reel Wednesday night while shooting a ridiculous 15-for-21 from the field and 7-for-10 from beyond the arc, said that his team’s shot-making is what ignited Boston’s hot start.
“We made a lot of shots tonight, and that helped us big,” he said. “Obviously it’s great when you make shots, but at times when you don’t make shots, you’ve got to still be locked in.”
Sure, but that was far from a worry on this night.
Boston dealt with no long stretches of misfires against Memphis. It remained hot all night long, connecting on at least 50 percent of its shots during each of the game’s four quarters. All 13 active members of the team – including fan favorite Tacko Fall – scored at least two points during the game, and eight of them scored at least five points.
This type of offensive flow is nothing new for the Celtics, as offense hasn’t been much of an issue for them this season. They now rank eighth in the league in offensive rating following Wednesday’s victory, per NBA.com/stats.
Defense, on the other hand, has been a significant question mark for this squad.
Boston entered its matchup with the Grizzlies ranked 26th in the league in defensive rating (115.2) and 24th in opponent fast break points per game (16.6). Those numbers are far cries from the defense Boston put forth a season ago, which ranked fourth overall in defensive rating (106.5) by season’s end.
Wednesday night was a staunch reminder that such defensive tenacity still exists within this season’s roster.
Something clicked Wednesday night, and the team relocated magic at that end of the court. Boston’s top lineups limited Memphis to just 40.3 percent shooting from the field and only eight fast break points through the first three quarters. The Grizzlies also logged more turnovers during that timespan (19) than it did assists (16).
Brown pointed toward the team’s offensive prowess as its spark plug, but Stevens had a different perspective. He saw his new starting lineup, which featured speedy point guard Jeff Teague, as the catalyst for the team’s impressive all-around play.
“I thought Teague’s aggressiveness defensively in the last two games helped really spearhead us,” Stevens said, alluding to Teague’s performance Tuesday night during a comeback win over the Pacers. “I thought yesterday at the end of the third, early fourth, he got his hands on a few balls, got some tips from behind. He anticipates so well.”
Skills with which the Grizzlies were forced to deal Wednesday night.
Teague applied defensive pressure from the get-go and wound up snatching four steals on the night during only 21 minutes of action. He led the game in that category while helping the Celtics grab a season-best 17 steals in total on the night.
This contest marked Teague’s first start of the season through five games. He replaced Tristan Thompson, who missed the game due to his right hamstring recovery program, in the opening lineup.
Teague’s performance, coupled with Brown’s explosive offensive showing, was a loud statement to Stevens that he will need to consider running the same starting lineup out there again Friday night in Detroit. The coach admitted that small-ball lineups such as Wednesday’s starting unit may very well stand as the team’s top options this season.
“We’ll continue to play small most of the time,” he stated. “I think that’s our best bet.”
It certainly looked it Wednesday night. Teague, Brown and the rest of the small-ball starting lineup tossed the proverbial first pitch of a blowout win before allowing the third unit close things out during the fourth quarter.
This was a gem of a performance by Boston, the first of what it hopes to be many complete games this season.