The Boston Celtics picked up their third straight win tonight, beating the Los Angeles Clippers by a score of 117-112. With the Clippers missing Kawhi Leonard due to back spasms, the Celtics were able to take advantage of it and squeak by with a victory. Kemba Walker had another solid outing tonight with 25 points in this one, and five other Celtics reached double digits to help power the Celtics to victory. Paul George dropped 32 points for the Clippers, but Kawhi’s absence was too much for the Clippers to overcome.
Both teams shot over 50% from the field in a tightly contested first half, as the Clippers went into the half with a one point win. Both sides would cool off to an extent in the third quarter, as it ended up being a 26-26 tie. Kemba Walker really helped keep the Celtics in the third, as he scored 13 of the the Celtics 26 points in the quarter. This quarter showcased just how important Walker is to the Celtics, because without his solid quarter, the Celtics most likely would have fallen into a hole that they wouldn’t have overcome.
That set the stage for the fourth quarter, where the Celtics bench came up clutch. The bench combined for the Celtics first 16 points in the fourth quarter, and helped swing the momentum in the Celtics favor. The Celtics would eventually build up a double digit lead with a little over four minutes that would be just enough to get the Celtics the victory.
The bench was a huge help for the Celtics tonight, especially on a night where Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown failed to hit their season averages in scoring. Brown dropped an efficient 18 points, but Tatum struggled through yet another game. Tatum only managed 14 points on 16 shots, and has really started to slow up with the All-Star break creeping up. Aside from a brilliant performance against the Wizards, Tatum has struggled in three of the last four games. Hopefully Tatum can head into the All-Star break on a high note, as it will be a welcome sight for the young star.
Off the bench, Rob Williams and Payton Pritchard continue to make impressive strides. Williams in particular has been on a tear recently, and earned some play time late in the fourth quarter in this one. Williams dropped 13 points, along with 8 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks. Williams has been interior force on both sides of the floor, which has been a huge help for the Celtics big man rotation. Pritchard, meanwhile, bounced back after a couple of rough performances to drop 14 points, including hitting 4 of his three pointers. Williams and Pritchard have been instrumental in keeping the Celtics in games recently, and if they can keep up this stretch of high play, the C’s should be poised for second half surge.
The Celtics have now bounced back to win three straight games, and will at the very least head into the All-Star break at .500. The Celtics look to be rounding back into form, and should be able to make a jump back up the standings in the second half of the season. Despite their struggles, the Celtics still are in fourth place in a weak Eastern Conference, so they still should be able to make a deep run in the playoffs. That’s not to say upgrades and improvements aren’t needed, but the season still has a ways to go.
The Celtics will play their final game before the All-Star break against the Toronto Raptors on Thursday. The Raptors have been dealing with a COVID outbreak recently, and had tonight’s game against the Detroit Pistons get postponed because of it, so there’s a chance that this game will ultimately get postponed. Should the game get played, the Celtics will look to keep their momentum going and head into the All-Star break on a high note.
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