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Danny Ainge’s drafting-and-dealing on display in Celtics 126-114 win over Raptors

 


With three of Boston’s top options at point guard among the missing last night, the Celtics were able to upset the Toronto Raptors , with the final score at 126-114. Marcus Smart, Jeff Teague and Kemba Walker were all out of action with various injuries, but it didn’t matter.

The main take from the victory may be that Danny Ainge, despite occasional negative noise about his decisions, has made some great moves over the years – and a number of them were on display last night. It starts with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, taken with the 3rd overall picks in consecutive drafts via the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade with the Nets.

Tatum had a team-high 40 points and went to the foul line 13 times, making all of those attempts. He also came away with plus/minus honors with a +24.  Brown notched 19 points, along with five boards and three assists. The Jay Team has become consistently potent.

Rookie Payton Pritchard is starting to look like the steal of the 2020 draft. He was taken 26th-overall in the 2020 draft. In 32 minutes of action, Payton put up 23 points and passed off for eight assists. This was a further test for the youngster, and he passed it (literally) with ease. 

Rob Williams was on the hardwood for 20 minutes, coming away with a double-double consisting of 11 points (4-of-5 on FGs) and 15 rebounds. The 27th-overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft was also 3-of-3 from the foul stripe. We may have another gem in this athletic phenomenon. 

Semi Ojeleye (37th pick in 2017) and Grant Williams (22nd pick in 2019) may still be sparring for a long-term roster slot, and they were both on target versus the Raptors. Semi had his second productive outing in a row, notching 12 points – hitting 4-of-9 on field goals and 3-of 5 on treys. Ojeleye also took down eight rebounds. Grant came up with 14 points, six boards and three blocks.

Ainge has kept his team in contention ever since his arrival in Boston, and he has accomplished that without the shameless tanking exhibited by the Philadelphia 76’ers. One choice Danny has made in picking Brad Stevens to coach his team has come under fire lately, perhaps with some basis. But I suspect that, beyond injuries and caution, one or more of the “walking wounded” were held out of last night’s game, in part, to test the subs. It seems Brad is loosening the strings on his troops, and it worked – at least for last night.







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