Celtics Lead

Celtics Continue Success Despite Injuries

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The ninth week of NBA action was a roller coaster for the Boston Celtics. They began the week with an easy win in Toronto against a shorthanded Raptors group, but were embarrassed by that same team just a few days later. But with that lone outlier — and their dud in DC Monday night– Boston has been able to take care of business for two weeks as we enter week 11. Injuries have resurrected the nickname “Hospital Celtics,” a name which was born two seasons ago. Whether it be Marcus Smart with the worst injury his eye doctors have seen, or an illness running its course through the roster. The injury bug has had no issue annoying the Celtics, yet head coach Brad Stevens has managed the difficulties with ease.

Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier have missed the entirety of these two weeks, thanks to left hip bone edema and a right pinkie fracture respectively. Enes Kanter has stepped up remarkably, helping to disguise Boston’s lack of big men. Williams, 22, was enjoying an increased role this season before being sidelined. Mark Murphy of the Boston Herald reported that he is set to meet up with specialists following their Monday game in Washington.

12/25: @ Toronto Raptors

Result: 118-102 W

Christmas day gave Jaylen Brown a gift he has been asking for since his entrance into the league– a win in Toronto. The 23-year-old should credit himself as a big help in this win, dropping 30 points while shooting 10-for-13 from the field (5-7 3PT). But a win wasn’t the only gift for the Celtics team and fans. Gordon Hayward made his return after a three-game absence due to a foot injury. Hayward added 14 points on 6-9 shooting, along with six assists and five boards.

 

Top Performers

Jaylen Brown: 30p/6r/4a, 10/13 FG

Kemba Walker: 22p/4a, 5/10 3PT

 

12/27: vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Result: 129-117 W

Jaylen Brown’s career hit yet another milestone this week, when he set a career high with 34 points against the struggling Cavs. Brown’s dominant performances earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors– another first for the blossoming star. His counterpart, Jayson Tatum, dropped 30, foreshadowing what Boston has in store for their future. The pair of young guns helped push Boston’s win streak to five games, and the Celtics are now one game away from sweeping Cleveland in their regular season series.

Top Performers

Jaylen Brown: 34p/9r, 13/20 FG, 5/10 3PT

Jayson Tatum: 30p/5r

 

12/28: vs. Toronto Raptors

Result: 113-97 L

Blame it on the second night of a back-to-back. Or on Tatum and Brown not getting the opportunities they usually do. Whatever the reason, Boston looked flat-out dreadful to close this week. The defending champs outworked and out-executed Boston from start to finish — even with their healthiest roster in a long while, as Marcus Smart finally re-emerged from an eye infection. Change Boston’s uniform colors to grey and teal and this game would’ve looked identical to any of Kemba Walker’s games while on the Hornets. Luckily, this type of performance is an outlier for his new team. Sometimes these nights just happen.

Top Performers

Kemba Walker: 30p

 

12/31: @ Charlotte Hornets

Result: 109-92 W

Boston got back on track with an easy one in Charlotte. Jaylen Brown missed the game due to illness, but the rest of the frontcourt did an exceptional job of picking up the slack. Enes Kanter had one of his best games as a Celtic, racking up 13 points, 14 boards, and a career-high six blocks. This was Boston’s sixth win in their last seven, as they swept the season series against Charlotte 3-0.

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 24p/7r

Kemba Walker: 22p/7a

Gordon Hayward: 21p/10r/6a

 

1/3: vs. Atlanta Hawks

Result: 109-106 W

2020 started with a surprise for the Celtics. Not only was Kemba Walker suddenly ruled out in a game against the Hawks with illness, but the 7-28 Hawks almost escaped on the road. Trae Young returned to the lineup, and made sure to leave his mark even with inefficient shooting. Young finished with 28 points and 10 assists, including some key shots that kept his group alive.

Top Performers

Jaylen Brown: 24p/10r

Marcus Smart: 15p/9a/6r

Enes Kanter: 14p/11r, 24 mins

 

1/4: @ Chicago Bulls

Result: 111-104 W

With Walker missing his second-straight game, BostoWn needed somebody to fill his shoes. Jayson Tatum took on that role for his first game against the Bulls this season. He dominated from start to finish, and shot an effective 12-15 from the field. He continued to cover for Kemba with this clutch three, giving the C’s their eighth win in the last nine.

Top Performers

Jayson Tatum: 28p/7r

Gordon Hayward: 24p, +15

Enes Kanter: 17p/12r

1/6 @ Washington Wizards

Result: 99-94 L

Boston’s three-game win streak ended with a disappointing dud in DC, as the Celtics sputtered to a meager 94 points despite also holding Washington under 100. Kemba sat out once again, and this time it hurt the C’s. Boston shot just 34% from the field and 21% from deep– not ideal.

Top Performers:

Jaylen Brown: 23p/12r

Jayson Tatum: 17p

UP NEXT

The Celtics return home tonight for a date with the San Antonio Spurs. That game sets up a tough task for the following evening when Boston takes a shot at Philadelphia on the second night of a back-to-back. That game will be on TNT, as Philly tries to best the Celtics for the third time this season.

Follow us on Twitter @CelticsLead for the latest Celtics news and insight.

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About Dylan Corey

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