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Lessons from an easy 140-105 Celtics win over injury-depleted Pelicans

The Boston Celtics broke their 3-game skid with a convincing 140-105 victory over the injury-depleted New Orleans Pelicans last night. Here are some lessons-learned from that one game.

A day off is just what the team needed

After losing all three its last three games, Celtics coach Brad Stevens gave the boys a day off. They needed it, and the break was well-timed.

The Pels were without three key players. Don't get too high on the win.

Jrue Holiday, Derrick Favors and JJ Redick were among the missing (injuries) for New Orleans. Just as the Guys in Green shouldn't have sunk too low on the 3-game losing streak, getting too high on this victory would be a mistake.

Ball movement wins games for Boston



When the ball moves like it did last night, it seems that the Celtics are close to unbeatable. Call it youth or lack of seasoning, but Boston too-often goes into spells of iso-ball, and it becomes a hit-or-miss proposition.


We got a preview of what Jayson Tatum can become

Jayson Tatum's career night was a demo of what he can become, but he can't be classified as a transcendent player - not yet. Can he get to the level of Larry Bird, Michael Jordan or Lebron James, a franchise star whose talent rises above every other NBA player? That remains to be seen but this kid is special.


Jay Team may reach the level of the Clippers' pairing of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

NBA TV's Sam Mitchell suggested that comparison in this morning's NBA TV broadcast. Jaylen and Jayson have become complete, 2-way players and have not yet peaked. The duo has truly evolved this season, and we haven't seen their best yet. Reaching the level of The Claw and PG13 is achievable.

The trade-Kanter-and-Hayward rants will be quieted - at least until the next game.

Gordon Hayward scored 19 points on 8-of-11 from the field and 2-of-2 on treys, while adding five rebounds, three assists, one steal and one block. He had a team-high plus/minus of +38. He always seems to make that extra pass that results in a score, and he is the veteran glue that holds the team together. Enes Kanter had a double-double with 22 points in 23 minutes - and 19 boards. His scoring came on some down-low isolations and nice feeds from his teammates. His $4.8 million salary this season is starting to look like a bargain.

Jaylen Brown has been working on his free throws

Brown hit three of his four free throw attempts last night, and he is averaging 76.8% on the season. That is a significant improvement from his 65.8% free throw shooting from last season. The improvement is no accident.

The question of whether Celtics small-ball will succeed in the post-season has not been totally answered

The question remains whether the Celtics Core-5, with a max height of 6'8", can survive the slowed-down, half-court play of the post-season. Will they be crushed on the boards and bullied down low? My answer is - not if the team plays like it did last night. Enes Kanter asserted himself, and his teammates obliged. When Kanter gets it going down low, he can be a potent weapon on offense, and he is a powerful rebounder. If his defensive skills continue to get honed, The Green should be okay in the playoffs.

The Celtics take on the Chicago Bulls at TD Garden on Monday. We will get a chance to see if the lessons from last night's smooth showing sink in for more than a day.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel, @CausewayStreet and Facebook

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