Jayson Tatum becomes the youngest Celtic to score 10,000 career points as Boston earns a 124-114 win against the Nets to remain unbeaten. BOBBY KRIVITSKY 3 HOURS AGO
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The last of the NBA’s unbeaten teams extended their win streak on Saturday with a fifth-straight win to start the 2023-24 season, earning a 124-114 victory vs. the Brooklyn Nets.
Jayson Tatum became the youngest player in Boston Celtics history to score 10,000 career points. The two-time All-NBA First Team selection went out and proved that he was the best player on the floor, finishing with 32 points and 11 rebounds, pacing all participants in the two categories.
The visitors also got a season-high 18 points from Jrue Holiday, who was outstanding Saturday night at Barclays Center. The two-time All-Star drilled 4/9 threes (44.4 percent), and he was the only one on either team who dished out ten assists. The former UCLA Bruin also grabbed nine rebounds, the second-most in the matchup.
And while the Nets, down Cameron Johnson, Nic Claxton, and Ben Simmons, and playing on the second night of a back-to-back, after arriving home at about 5 a.m., showed impressive fight, not wearing out in the second half despite consistently pushing the pace and launching 52 threes, even without Derrick White, Boston had too much firepower.
And in the final frame, the visitors were at their best, including staging a 14-4 run that helped them pull away for a 124-114 win.
Now for a deep dive into what stood out throughout Saturday’s matchup.
1. With White out of the lineup as he and his wife prepare to welcome a second child to their family, Al Horford got his first start of the season.
The former Florida Gator quickly made his presence felt with four points, three rebounds, and an emphatic rejection in the first six minutes.
2. With Nic Claxton, Ben Simmons, and Cameron Johnson out for the Nets, the Celtics quickly and repeatedly capitalized on their height advantage in the early going, including Kristaps Porzingis scoring the game’s first two points on a low-post touch.
Brooklyn, a team that loves to push the pace, countered by launching one three after another, with head coach Jacque Vaughn imploring the Nets to get the ball and go, to create clean looks from beyond the arc.
While half of their shots in the first frame were threes, faring 5/14 (35.7 percent) from long-range, Boston also took 50 percent of its field goals from behind the arc, going 5/12 (41.7 percent) from three in the opening 12 minutes.
Lonnie Walker IV came off the hosts’ bench to lead all scorers with nine points in the period. Jayson Tatum paced the C’s with eight, bringing him halfway toward 10,000 for his career.
3. The four-time All-Star, who helped the visitors stage an 11-3 run early in the second quarter to regain the lead, 45-41, achieved that milestone accomplishment with 5:05 left in the first half, carving up the Nets defense en route to a layup through contact and the free throw that represented his 10,000th career point. Tatum’s the youngest Celtic to do so.
4. Something that stood out in the second frame was how effectively Jrue Holiday and Porzingis worked the pick-and-roll, with the latter setting low-angled screens, putting the defenders involved in the action in a difficult predicament and propelling Porzingis into his post-ups.
The seven-foot-three center, who had six points in the final 2:12 of the first half, also got an easy bucket courtesy of an alley-oop from Jaylen Brown.
5. The repeated success of that attack helped Boston finish strong to close out the first half. The visitors outscored their hosts 21-10 in the final 5:05 of the second period, a testament to their play at both ends, including doing a better job of getting out to challenge shots from beyond the arc. They outpaced Brooklyn 36-24 in the quarter.
The Celtics, who entered halftime with a 70-58 lead, had four players in double figures after the first 24 minutes. Holiday had ten, Brown registered 12, Porzingis produced 13, and Tatum led all scorers with 21 points, including a buzzer-beating three to end the first half.
6. As is too often the case, Boston got off to a slow start after the break. The Nets quickly closed the gap, outscoring their guests 15-6 to begin the third frame, bringing them within three.
Saturday, the Celtics’ sluggish start to the second half had much to do with a lack of resistance and activity defensively as Brooklyn pushed the pace, with Spencer Dinwiddie generating eight points by the midway mark in the period.
7. Boston only managed to put 21 points on the board in the third quarter, shooting 40 percent from the field. The visitors’ offense lacked pace and on and off-ball activity. Four turnovers leading to eight points for the Nets didn’t help either.
Conversely, the Nets spread the floor, attacked one-on-one matchups, and did a great job taking care of the ball, committing only two giveaways and limiting the Celtics to two points off those mistakes. That helped them take six more shots in the frame despite not getting to the free-throw line — Boston only made one trip to the stripe in the quarter.
8. Horford starting created more of an opportunity for Luke Kornet, who took advantage and was at his best in the final 12 minutes. That included the veteran center collecting a pocket pass from Payton Pritchard and finishing a layup through contact, then making the free throw, giving the visitors a 96-90 edge with 9:51 remaining.
Kornet also held up against Dinwiddie after switching onto him, staying in front, then challenging a fadeaway three that was off the mark. Those minutes, buying Porzingis time on the bench before the game’s final stretch, were crucial.
9. Upon returning, Porzingis did an excellent job using his length without fouling to stymie multiple three-point attempts by Brooklyn. And if the former All-Star’s tip-in after a Brown missed three, giving Boston a 117-105 cushion with 1:40 left, didn’t represent the dagger, him swatting a Cam Thomas attempt at the basket, resulting in a breakaway jam for Horford, putting the C’s ahead 119-105 with 1:28 to go, certainly did.
The Celtics, who went on a 14-4 run that gave them a 110-99 advantage midway through the final frame, were outstanding in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Nets 33-26 in the last 12 minutes, improving to 5-0 with a 124-114 win at Barclays Center.
10. Up next for the Celtics is a Monday night matchup against the Timberwolves in Minnesota; tip-off is at 8:00 EST.