3 most epic moments of Celtics' season before coronavirus hiatus
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3 most epic moments of Celtics’ season before coronavirus hiatus

Celtics

The Boston Celtics have solidified themselves as a legitimate title contender in 2019-20 after enduring a tumultuous and underwhelming stint the season prior.

Kemba Walker’s humble character and down to earth nature have allowed him to flourish as the C’s new vocal leader and floor general. Jaylen Brown has blossomed into a two-way star, and Jayson Tatum (who averaged 30.7 points and 7.9 rebounds in the month of February) has proven himself to be an elite offensive talent. Boston’s enjoyed their fair share of memorable moments throughout the season, and here are just a handful of them.

Jayson Tatum ties career-high drops 41 points on the Los Angeles Lakers

The Celtics did lose this game 112-114, and in disappointing fashion (due to an offensive foul from Tatum). But, regardless of the outcome in the win/loss column, the 22-year-old was sensational and the defeat did not make his performance against possibly the best team in basketball any less impressive.

In 37 minutes of play, Tatum shot the rock with scorching accuracy. He converted on 12 of his 20 field-goal attempts, which included four triples on seven tries and he was able to bury 13 of his 15 free-throws. Tatum was picking apart the elite Lakers’ defense; he got buckets from all areas of the floor. His most eye-catching scores included a thunderous dunk on Danny Green in transition and a gorgeous step back triple right over the outstretched arm of Defensive Player of the Year candidate Anthony Davis.

The former Duke standout put on a clinic on a national stage versus Boston’s greatest enemy. Tatum was already tearing up the league for weeks by the time this matchup rolled around on Sunday, Feb.23, but his masterpiece at Staples Center marked when many began to recognize him as one of the NBA’s premier budding talents.

Celtics defeat Clippers in a double-overtime thriller at TD Garden

Two contenders jockeying for top seeds in their respective conferences faced off on Feb. 13, Boston’s last outing before the All-Star break, and what transpired was 58 minutes of intense, physical, and thoroughly entertaining hoops. This was a closely knotted affair, as both squads took turns gaining and losing the lead.

Multiple players on each side lit up the scoreboard for their respective clubs. For the Clippers, Kawhi Leonard tallied 28 points and 11 rebounds, and their dynamic duo off the pine of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell scored 35 and 24 points, with each logging 44 minutes. It was a forgettable showing for Paul George (four points on 2-for-7 shooting in 15 minutes), but his teammates picked up the slack while the star was on a minutes restriction.

As for Boston, it was Tatum who characteristically rose to the occasion against a top-tier opponent. He lit up Kawhi and the Clips for 39 points on 14-for-23 shooting overall and 5-for-10 from long-range. Also, defensive menace Marcus Smart was in a groove offensively and chipped in 31 points and three assists in the 141-133 victory for the green.

Boston and LA met for one of the season’s most thrilling back-and-forth games that featured a slew of All-Star caliber talents. The C’s entered the All-Star break on a positive note with a hard-fought win versus a loaded Clippers group.

Gordon Hayward scores career-high 39 points against the Cleveland Cavaliers

Gordon Hayward has revitalized his career this season and with each passing day looked more and more like the star he was for much of his tenure with the Utah Jazz. After being relegated to a bench role for the majority of 2018-19, he has thrived as a do-it-all playmaker for the Celtics. Hayward is averaging 17.3 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per contest and his campaign defining performance occurred against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov.5.

The 29-year-old dominated in the absence of Jaylen Brown (illness), totaling 39 points with remarkable efficiency as 17 of his 20 field-goals found the bottom of the net. Hayward contributed in other areas as well, dishing out eight assists and pulling down seven rebounds in what was his finest performance as a Celtic. Boston needed every bit of his excellence to scrape by with the victory, as they only won by six due to being on the road and without Brown.

Hayward’s near-perfect shooting clinic was an encouraging sight for C’s faithful, and it was only the beginning of a fantastic bounce-back year from the forward.