If you listen to the media, it’s full of words and phrases like “competitive,” “make the right game,” “fun,” “play the game the right way,” and “make more moves.” Because of how good Jayson Tatum has looked to start the year, he’s gotten MVP attention, but that’s really overshadowed how much the team’s chemistry and offensive and defensive tactics have improved.
It’s not as if Tatum is surrounded by a group of role players who highlight his strengths (think LeBron James on the Cavaliers surrounded by shooters). Instead, Brad Stevens created a team with many players who can do many things. Tatum is just a great, versatile player.
The team’s mantras were on full display in a rally from beyond the arc in Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Celtics made twenty-one three-pointers against the Hawks, tying their second triple-double total for the season. In their 46 attempts from 3, you can see all the tricks of the historical offense: the ability of everyone to do everything, the movement of the ball to bring down good shots and become big guns, and Boston embraces democracy. approach to the shooter.
Tatum and the Hickory High bench have been destroying second halves and it’s not because Tatum has carried them. Yes, there is a strong understanding of how to use the First Team All-NBAer on the floor, but it has often been a trick for everyone to shine. First, some things to note at the start of the game above: 1) The Hawks buried Trae Young on Sam Hauser and 2) Payton Pritchard starts with the ball.
To start, it’s Tatum – Mr. All-Star, the best player in the world right now, Max Contract Man – puts on the screen. He eventually gets the ball, but even that little change at first is enough to get everyone’s attention, especially Young’s. It takes a long time for Hauser to get out of his place and start cutting the base.
By the time Young realizes it, the pod bay doors are already closing and Young must try to communicate with the dual screen of Luke Kornet and Grant Williams to compete with the wide open look by Hauser.
And even the missed shots are good. You can’t see it in the dugout, but it starts with Tatum’s kick to Williams. Everything is done from there – to begin with that. Everything builds up since the offseason. Williams gets the first time in the daisy chain and because Williams put in a lot of time last summer putting the ball down and attacking the outside, he can drive again and deepen the defense even more.
After Tatum receives the ball in the zone, he passes it to Derrick White. White, who shot 30.6% from 3 last season, has made some adjustments to his shooting mechanics and is now shooting a career-best 40.7% this year. And because of the improvement shown, Clint Capela has to shut him down, leaving Al Horford at the corner 3 open.
Of course, when everyone shares the ball and looks, there is a change in energy that even the players on the bench can feel.
“We can’t do it on our own. We need everybody, so trust everybody and make the right play, and play the game the right way. It’s great,” Derrick White said after filling in for Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon and scoring 16 points and dishing out 10 assists.
As a fan, I can say we feel it too.