Celtics close Toronto behind night of 10 assists by Jason Tatum, 109-97 – Boston Herald


Growth is painful, and even after leaving the field with a 109-97 victory over Toronto on Sunday night, Marcus Smart could feel how progressive the process has been for this 11-10 team.

Much like their record, the Celtics have taken a step back to counter their progress since the start of the season.

“Just imagine doing something for years, then having a job where you went to school to get a degree for that job, then out of nowhere something you never studied for or with which you’ve never had any experience, they come and say whatever they want and it’s supposed to happen overnight, ”said the Celtics goalkeeper. “It’s not going to happen. It’s going to take time – you have to learn, you have to adapt.

“You have to figure out how to do it faster to help you, and that’s what we’re doing,” Smart said. “Ime (Udoka is) a different trainer than the one we were used to during these years. He brings a method, a different mentality to this team. We knew it wouldn’t be easy to get in. We were going to have some ups and downs, especially learning a new system and a new way of playing, and getting to know his coaching staff again. We did a great job. It is not going to be easy. But the patience Ime has had with us just shows the growth and maturity of this team.

There was not always patience. Smart, one of the first to publicly call on his teammates (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) for not doing enough to move the ball earlier this season, struggled with those lessons. But once again, the Celtics have shown pieces of how they can play the way their new coach wants.

Tatum, despite having a poor shooting night (eight points, 2 for 16), had one of the best nights of his career as a distributor with 10 assists. Smart, who benefited from some of those assists and led the Celtics with 21 points, including 4 for 10 3-pointers, contributed six more assists while driving, using his height in the paint and kicking. foot to open shooters.

Most would say the Celtics, minus misfires (41.5% of total shots in Toronto), should play this way more often, even against the biggest teams. Smart is there with them on this subject.

“It’s big. It’s huge,” he said. “The game of basketball, you get into the paint and the number of hits you get and make increases. You draw a crowd and you make the right game, whether it’s for yourself or for others. I’m a bigger guard, a bigger body, and a lot of teams put their smaller guard on me, so being able to use my height as an advantage is always huge. It allows these guys like Jaylen and Jayson to be able to do what they’re doing.

The Celtics were at their best for at least a week moving the ball, allowing 24 assists to 34 baskets and doing their job on defense. They put this one on the sidelines with a 14-2 run in the fourth quarter that was in stark contrast to their collapse on the stretch in San Antonio on Friday night.

And it’s no coincidence that their work on the energy front was greatly helped by Josh Richardson’s return to the roster after a long bout with the flu that forced him to miss the previous two games.

Josh Richardson, with 18 points, was one of five Celtics to score 15 or more points.

“He was feeling better every day. He wasn’t ready to go to San Antonio, but we knew that with that extra day off he would be fine, ”Udoka said. “He was out of breath in the first half, asked for a replacement, asked to go out. But getting 27 minutes and this 18 point production on his part is obviously huge. Especially with a guy like Dennis (Schroder, ankle) coming out tonight, it’s him and some young guys over there. So he stayed the course, did a great job there, gave us versatility in the formations that we have there and, you know, a hell of a job on his part to come back and play those many minutes there. first night after being away for a week. ”

Launch a strong fourth quarterback from Enes Kanter, who told his teammates he was changing his name to Enes Kanter Freedom to highlight his work on international human rights, and the Celtics received a major boost from their bench.

Especially, however, with Tatum showing that even on a bad shooting night he can change a game as a playmaker, the Celtics have shown that they can, indeed, finish off an opponent.

“I think when we won 13 they called for a time out, we said ‘we’ve been here’ a few times in this game with double-digit advances and throughout the season,” said Udoka. “This time, let’s keep our feet on the gas and keep doing what got us here. We have sets for the guys but at the same time the basketball team, the penetration and the kick team, the ball movement was great tonight so we wanted to stick to that, not just stagnate. and let them charge. We obviously weathered this storm.

“I think they brought him back to new. I just did the same as us, got a few big hits after Jayson’s late penetration, so I stayed there, stayed the course, played the same way we had all night long and that’s what allowed us to take the lead. So happy with the result.


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