The Boston Celtics (26-6) improved on their league-best record with a dominant road victory over the San Antonio Spurs (5-27). Any chance of a Spurs comeback was done in by a putrid third quarter (outscored 23-40), and the Celtics owned the hosts on the boards (56 to 39) and from the field (54% to 43%).
San Antonio, absent rotation players Zach Collins and Keldon Johnson, got its main production from Victor Wembanyama (21 points and 7 rebounds) and Devin Vassell (22 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 steals).
Boston, missing Jrue Holiday, brought Al Horford into the starting line-up to guard Wembanyama, and received its biggest production unsurprisingly from Jayson Tatum (25 points and 6 rebounds) and Jaylen Brown (24 points and 6 rebounds) with steady playmaking from Derrick White (17 points and 5 assists).
Former Spur White shot out of the gate with four buckets in the first quarter, and the Celtics took advantage of a porous paint for early success. Wembanyama and Vassell were the Spurs’ main answer throughout the frame, and went down eight after one quarter.
Boston took advantage of a decided rebound advantage to extend possessions, and Tatum found his shooting touch in the second period. Wembanyama compiled 15 points before getting any other statistic (2 assists), and Vassell was nearly able to match his production with scant support elsewhere.
Brown awoke from a half-game slumber and detonated on any defender in his vicinity in the third period as the Celtics ran their lead up to 28 at one point. Brown and White led a dunk and 3-pointer parade throughout the frame, while it seemed like Wembanyama was producing mostly by himself.
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- Victor Ease: Side-step three? He made it look very easy early in first half action. There’s no way that any player could block the shot at its apex.
- Devin’s Deeds: Near the end of the first period, he took the dribble into the paint and did a two-footed stop for a pop-a-shot. It feels like he could average 4-6 more points if he pushed the ball in transition.
- Blake Wesley, though not looking like he made much of a visible impact, dished out four assists in his handful of first half minutes!
- Sequence of the Game: Sochan, late in the first half, found a streaking Malaki Branham for an electrifying dunk and-1.
- One could start a drinking game with how many times Sean Elliott has quipped “that’s not a pass you would have seen a few weeks ago” as San Antonio sought out Wemby more often on the attack.
- White’s (8 points) early offense allowed Boston to jump ahead in the first. When he wasn’t getting buckets, he found easy offense for Luke Kornet. On a fast break, Vassell somehow threw a missile over Wembanyama by a good 10-12 feet. Kornet turned away two Spurs shots at the tim, and the Celtics leapt ahead by nine. Vassell and Wembanyama did their best to counter at the other end, but despite Tatum and Kristaps Porzingis combining for one field goal, Boston left the first up by eight.
- An offensive track meet broke out to start the second. Wembanyama impressed with buckets from all three levels. A Branham and-1 in transition brought the Spurs within four briefly. The teams traded buckets liberally until the well dried up for San Antonio. Branham’s buzzer-beating three brought the Spurs to within 53-65.
- San Antonio was victimized again by its third quarter doldrums as Brown took over the Celtics’ production to help push them ahead by as much as 28. Wembanyama threw down a comical Nerf-like one-handed floating dunk over a clearly overmatched White. Dominick Barlow took advantage of playing time to be a pesky presence at the defensive end. Once Brown sat, Tatum resumed the go-to guy mantle and Boston left the third up 105-76.
- The fourth quarter was mostly the territory of the reserves. Kornet was the recipient of three nice lobs. Payton Pritchard and Sam Houser almost kept scoring pace with the San Antonio bench by themselves. Devonte’ Graham found Barlow for a nice alley-oop. Barlow then rattled home his first NBA three. Sidy Cissoko looked ‘okayish’ in his game action.
For the Celtics fan’s perspective, please visit Celtics Blog.
The Spurs take on Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies Tuesday night at 7:00 PM CDT.