PHILADELPHIA -- Stray thoughts and observations from the airport after the Celtics pulled out a huge win over the Sixers on Tuesday night without Kyrie Irving.
1. It's going to be tough to top Jayson Tatum's dunk: I didn’t get to watch the replay until well after the win but on a night when Tatum played stellar basketball on both ends of the floor (20 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks) he put together a sequence that will be hard to top again (LeBron dunk notwithstanding) with his third-quarter throwdown on Ben Simmons.
TATUM 😱 pic.twitter.com/kuokndUjeT
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 13, 2019
The play had everything that makes Tatum so tantalizing as a prospect. He draws out at a defender on the closeout (Simmons) to the 3-point line and drives past him to get to the paint. He hits Joel Embiid with one of the prettiest in-rhythm spin moves you’ll ever see and then gathers immediately for the right-handed flush in the face of Simmons. Doing just two of those elements in one play would be impressive enough. Doing all three within three seconds? That’s special for a 20-year-old and you could tell by the reaction on the bench.
Keep a closer eye on the assistant though after Tatum throws in down in the replay. Almost everyone on Boston’s bench had some kind of reaction, including direct assistant Micah Shrewsberry, who unleashed a fist pump. It’s rare to see that kind of expression from coaches in a game but it was certainly warranted for this move. Danny Ainge will probably be forced to watch this one a few times before finalizing any kind of deal that sends Tatum to New Orleans. Between this and a couple recovery blocks and timely help defense from Tatum in this one and it’s easy to view this game as one of the best all-around performances we’ve seen from him this year.
2. Celtics did a hell of a job containing Philly’s shooters: J.J. Redick is already an incredibly dangerous weapon and surrounding him with so much offensive talent in the Sixers starting five leaves defenses vulnerable to his shiftiness and a quick trigger. He gives opposing coaches nightmares, as Brad Stevens admitted to on Tuesday night.