A big win over the Thunder Thursday night prevented an early season 3-game losing streak for the Spurs. They played stretches of some of the ugliest basketball the first 7 games can afford this past week, but they seemed to have snapped themselves out of it in the 2nd half against a scrappy, but young Thunder squad, putting up 121 points against a team that came into the night with the 3rd best defensive rating of the early season.
The Boston Celtics come into town riding a resurgent Gordon Hayward, summer free agent acquisition Kemba Walker, and a stingy defense that allows just 100.4 points per 100 possessions to a 6-game winning streak. Jayson Tatum is balling and they’ll have recently sick swingman Jaylen Brown with them as well. The Spurs will have their hand’s full if they want to end Boston’s streak and start one of their own.
Boston Celtics (6-1) vs San Antonio Spurs (5-3)
November 9, 2019 | 4:00 PM CT
Watch: FSSW | Listen: WOAI (1200 AM)
Spurs Injuries: None
Celtics Injuries: Enes Kanter (center — day-to-day)
I wrote before the Thunder game that Aldridge needed to make himself more involved, even if his shot wasn’t falling. I thought the key to helping him staying active was to hit the boards, as he spent 3 of the previous 4 games grabbing just 15 total rebounds.
It turns out he just had to hit his first few jumpers and he was off and rolling:
LaMarcus Aldridge gave Steven Adams THE BUSINESS. Via NBA Matchup data Aldridge was 12/12 against Adams for 24 points. Lawwd pic.twitter.com/5SMB927AXm— A.K (@Kungu_NBA) November 8, 2019
Aldridge hit an eye popping 19 of the 23 shots he took, many of them jumpshots and against Thunder big man Steven Adams. The Celtics aren’t particularly great at the center position, so it isn’t inconceivable that the Spurs could look to ride the L-Train in the early goings of the game in the hopes that he’s still hot.
Boston’s perimeter and wing depth has the potential to be ridiculous
While the Celtics may be a bit soft at center, they have very good players at the other positions, with many being capable of playing multiple positions:
- Gordon Hayward has finally started to look like the player Boston signed before he suffered that horrific injury to his ankle on Opening Night 2018. He became only the 2nd player ever to go 16/16 on 2-pt field goals this week in a 39 point effort versus the Cleveland Cavaliers, joining Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain.
- Third year small forward Jayson Tatum is averaging a career-best 21.6 points per game is shooting the ball at a 45.8% clip from beyond the arc at a career-high 6.9 attempts a game, and recently did this to the Knicks:
Celtics 104, Knicks 102— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) November 2, 2019
Brutal loss for the Knicks as Jayson Tatum hits the game-winning step-back jumper from the corner with 1.3 seconds left over RJ Barrett.
Knicks now 1-5 this season.
Morris had 29 points and late-game heroics but not enough. Tatum with 25. Walker with 33. pic.twitter.com/0ZKNzOdNDV
- Summer free agent signing Kemba Walker has struggled to shoot the ball with his new club, but he can still get hot in a hurry and bury your team if you give him the chance to or if he just has that PU3IT stuck on automatic.
- Very few players are as much of a pest on the defensive side of the ball as back-up guard Marcus Smart is. Smart is routinely lauded by pundits for his defensive tenacity and do-it-all mentality. He’s the heart and soul of the Celtics for this new era of Boston basketball.
- The Celtics have extremely high hopes for swingman Jaylen Brown, as evidenced by the recent contract extension they gave him to sign. Brown has shown glimpses of a big-time performer and it’s possible that the Celtics are taking a bet on him, as suggested by Celtics Blog writer Greg Bruek-Cassoli:
In ponying up for Brown, the Celtics have placed a bet on his development. The rangy wing with tantalizing athleticism is already capable of consistently creating a positive impact on both ends of the court, but hasn’t demonstrated a star-level quality of play that warrants a deal that will pay him more than $20 million in its first year and over $28.5 in its final two. Such sums of money are typically reserved for particular player archetypes.
This will be Brown’s 5th game of the season and 2nd after coming off an illness that sidelined him for 3 games.
A Way Forward for DeMar DeRozan
If Enes Kanter is the player primarily guarding LaMarcus Aldridge, expect coach Gregg Popovich to try and take advantage of that early, but it shouldn’t be their only option on the offensive end. As noted by Devon Birdsong, an in-control, yet aggressive DeMar DeRozan was on display against the Thunder, much similar to last year’s version. Also noted was the relative ease with which DeRozan and Dejounte Murray were able to mesh against the Thunder, with each looking as comfortable playing alongside the other for the first time all year. San Antonio needs to start happening with regularity if they hope to continue to build on last year’s success.
Prediction: Spurs by 3
For the Celtics fans’ perspective, visit Celtic’s Blog.
With Tony Parker Day approaching, Tony MUST dominate Fisher.
PtR’s Gamethread will be up this evening for those who want to chat through the game. You can also follow along with the action through PtR’s Twitter feed.