LOS ANGELES -- The Celtics have a couple of days in Los Angeles to take in the good vibes after starting their toughest road trip of the year with a 2-0 mark this week. A few scattered thoughts on the developments within this trip and how they factor into the future for this group as they try to sustain some consistency down the stretch.
1. Jayson Tatum’s playing through tough moments: The 21-year-old rose to the occasion on Wednesday night in crunch time, scoring six points in the final 97 seconds against the Kings before Gordon Hayward’s ultimate game-winner. The fact that Tatum went an efficient 8-of-17 from the field against the Kings without Irving on the floor is particularly encouraging given the shots that he missed. The second-year forward was just 1-of-5 on the night on layups, missing three wide open bunnies at various stages. He hung his head on the floor after a couple of those misses but managed to bounce back, coming through during crunch time when the team needed him most.
Jayson Tatum with ice in his veins pic.twitter.com/5P8KDxYfLY
— Dan Greenberg (@StoolGreenie) March 7, 2019
Tatum has started the trip averaging 20.5 points per game and 47 percent from the field. He’s been getting smarter with his offense lately, getting closer to the rim when he attacks during the midrange, which helped him draw a pair of fouls late in the post against Sacramento. Defensively, there are still lapses on the perimeter at times, but Tatum has been locked in much better like the rest of this roster lately. As one team source told BSJ, "If we’re trying on defense, we can play with anybody." Tatum’s length makes him a crucial part of the Celtics maximizing their performance on the defensive end and if he continues to improve in this area, the Green will have a far better chance of entering the postseason on a high note.
2. Mixing in Semi Ojeleye in bigger lineups: With Kyrie Irving sidelined on Wednesday night with a quad bruise, the door would appear to be open for Brad Wanamaker to earn some minutes as a reserve point guard. Instead, Brad Stevens opted to go big at point guard with Gordon Hayward with the bench unit and handed minutes in both halves to Semi Ojeleye (14 on the night), a look that provided Boston with more defensive versatility and switchability across the board.