Boston Celtics: A well-rounded, confident team coming into their own

Jan 11, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) high fives center Al Horford (42) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 11, 2023; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) high fives center Al Horford (42) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

A “What? Me worry?” attitude has taken hold of the Boston Celtics in the 2022-23 season.

Since game one, a different fire and cohesiveness has been present with this club. It helps that the majority of key contributors returned from last season’s run to the NBA Finals. And the new players added, like Malcolm Brogdon, are fitting in and elevating the Celtics to another level.

This sort of energy and focus will be needed, with Jaylen Brown possibly on the shelf for the next week or two with an adductor injury. It’s a small sample size but the Celtics passed their first test on Thursday night with flying colors.

Boston Celtics: A complete team effort

Brown’s injury news came on the heels of his best game of the year.

In a 125-114 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, Brown nearly had a double-double with 41 points and 12 rebounds. He was a stellar 15-21 from the field and continued on his path to an All-Star season.

Facing a Brooklyn Nets team playing without an injured Kevin Durant, the Celtics gave one of their best team performances of the season. Six players scored in double figures as Boston won 109-98.

The victory extended Boston’s win streak to five games and it was the third time during this streak in which the Celtics held opponents to under 100 points. Play on the defensive end, combined with shooting 47 percent from the field, helped overcome Boston’s struggles from deep (12-36).

Related Story. Boston Celtics: Overcoming slumps will vault team forward. light

Focus was on Jayson Tatum, who led the team with 20 points (on 7-22 shooting). Tatum, however, was more than willing to spread the scoring load around on Thursday night.

Off the bench, Brogdon led the way with 16 points and Luke Kornet added 11. And all but one starter reached double digits. Grant Williams had 12, Derrick White 15, and Marcus Smart 16.

Smart’s growth on offense the last two seasons has been a reason for Boston’s success. By that, he’s learned to balance when to facilitate and when he’s needed to score. This has led to a career-best 7.2 assists per game this season, almost 1.5 more than last season. Smart is also shooting the ball (42.1 percent) the best he has since the 2018-19 season.

Against Brooklyn, Smart nearly had a triple-double, adding 10 assists and six rebounds to the box score.

Key contributors have shown up all season long for the Celtics, including one who has seen his playing time dwindle.

Finding minutes good problem for Boston Celtics

When healthy, the Celtics possess was one of the deepest rosters in the NBA. Meaning, good players may not see the court as often as they’d like (or should).

This also means when players sit out or get injured, role players need to take advantage of increased playing time.

Payton Pritchard is one of these players, and has usually responded well in a more-limited role this season.

Numbers are down in Pritchard’s third season, averaging only 4.4 points per game and shooting 34.4 percent game. But it is hard to find consistency when some games he’s only seeing three to five minutes.

Digging deeper, Pritchard is averaging 8.9 points in the 12 games he’s played more than ten minutes. Though his percentage from deep is only slightly better (19-52) in these instances, Pritchard still finds a way to impact the game.

Pritchard’s name pops up here and there as a trade piece before the deadline. Though he deserves the opportunity to play on a more consistent basis, selfishly I’d like to see him stay in Boston (and perhaps get more minutes in the process, despite depth at the guard position).

Next. Celtics Insider: The Jays would level up from mid-range J mastery. dark

A deep roster, Pritchard included, provides the Celtics with the unity needed to lock down the title later this season. They’ve proven they can overcome injuries and can play the type of team ball needed. With, of course, a dynamic duo to lead the way. And when the Celtics are cooking as one cohesive unit, well, reasons to worry can be all swept aside.