Looking to keep their momentum that they generated against the Houston Rockets, the Boston Celtics stayed hot from the floor and on the defensive end, jumping all over the Charlotte Hornets Sunday afternoon in Boston, winning 116-86. All five Celtics starters scored in double digits, Romeo Langford made his season debut, and Evan Fournier continues to look like his addition might change the Celtics season outlook.
Despite falling behind 18-9 early, Boston fought back thanks to some hot shooting from Jaylen Brown and went into the second quarter only trailing by 1, 26-25. He finished that first quarter with 11 points and singlehandedly kept Boston afloat. After being questionable coming into the day, the C’s were quickly glad that he was able to play. He would go on to finish the day with 17 points, including a scorching 5-8 on three-pointers.
But from the start of the second quarter, Boston began to pull away. They turned up the defensive pressure, holding Charlotte to only 17 points in the quarter. It was in that second quarter that Romeo Langford made his season debut, after missing time due to offseason wrist surgery and COVID-19. He made an immediate impact not only on the defensive end, as he did at times last season, but also on the offensive end, drilling a 3 on his first shot of the year.
Their second quarter was some of the best basketball we’ve seen Boston play in a little while, and was a continuation of the good habits that they showed in their win over the Rockets. It allowed them to take a 58-43 halftime lead that they never looked back from. They cruised in the second half to an easy victory, with none of their starters having to play any stressful minutes.
In the end, the Boston lead grew as large as 30, which was also the final margin of victory. While the win didn’t move the C’s out of 8th in the East, it made an already crowded Eastern Conference even tighter. Boston now sits only a single game out of fourth place, with a two game lead over the 9th place Pacers.
Robert Williams continues to shine in a starting role, and is making Danny Ainge look good for moving on from Daniel Theis at the deadline, even if the return from Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet has been disappointing. The growth he’s shown from last season to this one is incredible, as his freakish athleticism has finally meshed with understanding how the game works at the NBA level. Good things just seem to happen when he’s on the floor, and his vertical offensive game opens up driving lanes and creates cleaner looks for his driving teammates as opposing big men have to defend the lob and the ballhandler at the same time.
The final takeaway from this game is that Evan Fournier kept up his performance from last game, and showed why his addition at the trade deadline may have been underrated by many. His addition to a weak bench unit, or as a possible addition to the starting lineup, is going to play enormous dividends for this team down the stretch. Many teams don’t have a veteran, 20 point per game scorer coming off the bench, so that’s a huge advantage for the C’s. After two rough games, he’s becoming the guy he was in Orlando, and that has to have future opponents worried about what this team could become. They now have more than two scorers, as Fournier’s addition has added a balance to the C’s roster that was missing before.
Next up for Boston is a matchup on Tuesday night with Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers.
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