Note: if the NBA season had not been suspended, the Celtics would be in Memphis tonight to take on Grizzlies. The good news is that the season continues exclusively on CLNS Media, which will perform live simulations of all the Celtics’ remaining games in the regular season and in the playoffs, including pre and post game coverage. Here is a summary of the action tonight.
Realistic or not: the Memphis Grizzlies remained true to what brought them back in a game that followed up to 12 at the end of the third quarter. Taylor Jenkins’ team had two chances to equalize or take the lead with 10 seconds remaining and channeled two passes on the post that Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown cut to secure a Celtics victory of possession.
Boston has achieved its sixth win in eight games since fleeing the Pacers, after which the crowds have disappeared and the games have become the only goal. He helped the Celtics to close the outside world and seal the victories they couldn’t against the Rockets, Nets and Thunder in early March. On Wednesday, the Celtics forced the turnovers they gave away to blow up those games. It did not make the late charge of the Grizzlies feel less threatening.
When their rally slowed – forcing Jenkins to write comedies – Brad Stevens’ lineup grouped on the defensive. Tatum hit a baseline turnaround to bring the Celtics ahead of 108-107. He ended his shooting night 12 by 22 and proved to be the winner of the game. With Ja Morant loading into the lane to place a landfill in Jonas Valanciunas, Tatum grabs the free ball as the center of Memphis throws it away.
Tatum stepped onto the line and converted his first two free-throw attempts, cementing an effort of 28 points with one theft and two blocks. He also hit a 14-foot pull-up sweater to take an advantage when Memphis came out of a 105-104 timeout ahead.
Morant – running for the rookie of the year award despite his team staggering with his lone competitor Zion Williamson the night before – slammed a fierce repatriation to gain a 107-106 lead in response. He scored 21 points in 9-of-13 shooting with nine assists, leading Memphis to quickly detach 15 lost balls in Boston. Morant’s team, sinking from the Boston fun playoffs as owners of the Memphis first round pick, turned it over 19 times.
Stevens continued to take advantage of Boston’s first health shot all season and experimented early. After exiting eight in the first, Robert Williams came in with Marcus Smart and three first. He unleashed a 6-0 run covered in smart theft and fed Kemba Walker for two free throws that brought Boston by 24-22. So Brandon Clarke imposed himself against Williams, slipped him in and detonated the 7-0 in transition, ending with a running slam.
The experiment has failed. Entering the second in nine, Stevens tried again by integrating Enes Kanter with Carsen Edwards. Both scored a rebound and a kick-out three respectively to immediately put the Celtics back into play. The three consecutive moments of Tatum and Walker later tied the game to 35 years.
Boston moved forward nine before half-time, before a late run marked only by Kyle Anderson’s tenth triple throughout the year brought the Grizzlies to four. Walker, like the whole game, freed Tatum in a mismatch with Tatum to create a third step on the buzzer.
The defense of the Celtics swarmed on the other side of the half, when Walker found Tatum turning behind Dillon Brooks in the pole and Daniel Theis in a landfill to go on 63-51. Memphis called the timeout, appearing gassed on the second night of a back-to-back, but Jenkins rallied his team for a 45-31 round in the fourth. Five Grizzlies scored double numbers while Morant and Valanciunas cut in and won the rebound battle.
The Celtics looked up with four minutes remaining down 96-94. Morant hit a three and slammed a dunk inside to accelerate Memphis’s lead through the two minutes with Tatum’s warm-up. Only one was a novice and the other appeared on the scene at 19, apparently yesterday. Morant dribbled a key possession out of bounds to open the door to Tatum’s closing effort.
Boston returns to TD Garden for a six-game home booth starting with the Trailblazers on Friday. Even without cameras and crowds, Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell will have the call on CLNS Media.
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