The Spurs carried their dominant performance from Monday night right into Boston against the Celtics. Jumping out to a quick lead and staying in near-complete control of the game for 48 minutes, the Spurs handed the 2nd best team in the East their 3rd home loss of the season in convincing fashion.
- Much has been made of the Spurs’ recent three point revolution, but this game was not a continuation of that trend. With only 9 three-point makes on 29 attempts, this game bore close resemblance to the anachronistic offense so many love to criticize. On an individual level, LaMarcus dialed back the clock on his shot selection as well, turning down multiple good looks from behind the arc in the first half, and didn’t make his first three-pointer until late in the 4th quarter. The offense continued to score efficiently, but it had a different feel than the team’s recent outings.
- Defenders are going to learn about Lonnie Walker IV very quickly. Early in the 2nd quarter, Lonnie headed up court in semi-transition at an easy pace with a defender on his left hip and another ahead of him and to his right. Neither ever got in front of him, and Lonnie coasted into high flying finger-roll layup that visibly caught his defender by surprise. If you’re not in front of him, you’re beat.
- DeMar DeRozan’s streak of dominance continues. He scored 30 points on 10/17 from the floor, with 6 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal. There simply isn’t any answer for him right now. The Celtics have multiple outstanding perimeter defenders and DeMar gave everyone of them buckets tonight.
- Conversation around this game will likely focus on the shenanigans that occurred midway through the 3rd quarter. LaMarcus Aldridge set a questionable screen on Kemba Walker, but no foul was called. Daniel Theis hacked Derrick White immediately after, which drew a whistle. Walker earned a very quick pair of technicals and an ejection in less than 10 seconds and his coach somehow managed to get a tech as well. It was an odd scene that undercut some of what was otherwise yet another impressive game from this Spurs’ squad.
Dejounte Murray kicked off the scoring on the Spurs’ first possession with a driving layup. That helped get the visiting team off to a fast start as they scored the 1st 8 points of the game before the Celtics finally got on the board with a Gordon Hayward three-pointer nearly 3 minutes into the contest.
But the Spurs would score the next 14 points as well to go 22-3 with just over 5 minutes to go in the first period. From there, the quarter played out in a bit of see-saw battle. A pair of Marcus Smart threes cut the lead to 10 at one point, but the Spurs responded with buckets of their own to close the quarter up 12.
The opening of the 2nd quarter was White-Walker time. The pair combined to score or assist on the Spurs first 15 points of the quarter while playing outstanding defense. The 2nd unit’s predilection for ball movement was clearly visible as well.
The starters kept it going as the half came to a close. DeMar DeRozan imposed his will, scoring 9 points in 5 minutes, while Dejounte Murray produced a trio of pretty assists that resulted a 3 for Bryn Forbes, a mid-range jumper for LaMarcus Aldridge and an easy dunk for Trey Lyles. DeMar’s outburst and Dejounte’s creation carried the Spurs into halftime still holding on to that 18 point lead at 65-47.
In an all too common occurrence, the team found itself on the wrong side of a run when play resumed. The Spurs got on the board first to push the lead to 20, but then the Celtics slowly ate their way into the deficit, finally cutting the lead to single digits and forcing a timeout with a Jayson Tatum dunk with 6:21 to go in the 3rd.
Tatum came out of the break with a steal and another transition bucket to cut the lead to 7. And that’s when things got crazy. Kemba Walker wanted an offensive foul called on LaMarcus Aldridge after the two collided on a screen and angrily approached the ref. It’s unclear what he said, but he got two very quick technicals and was ejected.
Coach Brad Stevens earned a technical as well, giving the Spurs 3 free throws, of which LaMarcus hit 2. Then Derrick White went to the line and knocked down 2 of his own, earned on a foul that was called on Daniel Theis immediately after LaMarcus’ screen, to push the lead back out to 11.
Despite a very visible uptick in intensity from the Celtics and a corresponding response from the crowd, the Spurs maintained their composure and weathered the storm, stretching the lead back out to 21 briefly before finishing the quarter with a 99-83 advantage.
Lonnie Walker kicked off the 4th with his jumper on automatic, drilling three of his four pull ups, all of which looked incredibly smooth. But a pair of Gordon Hayward wide open threes as well as some crafty foul-drawing from Marcus Smart kept the game in reach.
Neither team could get a run started, with both missing chippies that could’ve helped turned the momentum. Finally, near the midway point in the corner, Lonnie knocked down a three from the top of the key while Jaylen Brown fouled DeMar off the ball. DeMar knocked down the free throw to push the lead back out to 20.
With another game tomorrow night in Philadelphia, the Celtics pulled their starters with five and a half minutes to go. Unwilling to let the competitive portion of the evening end so soon, though, the Spurs proceeded to let the home team’s reserves cut the lead to 15 in short order. Fortunately, that was as far as it got, and with 2:!6 to go, Spurs fan favorite Marco Belinelli finally checked in with DeMarre Carroll and Drew Eubanks for some garbage time run.
For the Celtics fans’ (likely salty about that incredibly quick triple technical) perspective, visit Celtics’ Blog. Next up, the Spurs’ road trip continues in Memphis on Friday night at 7 pm.