Celtics fans surely took in Friday’s game with wide smiles on their faces.
Boston extended its win streak to five with a 129-117 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers at TD Garden. It was a stellar night for Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who posted 34 and 30 points, respectively. It marked the first time the young swingmen each notched 30-plus points in the same game, as well as the first time the C’s received multiple 30-point scorers in a game since 2014.
Green teamers have every reason to be excited about the win over the Cavs, as it offered a potential glimpse of what’s poised to be a promising future. But for head coach Brad Stevens, his mind after the game was on Boston’s shortcomings in the latest victory of its streak.
“Well, today was the worst one out of the five, I’d say,” he told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin. “They put us in a bind on defense and obviously we let go on the defensive end at the end of the game. You know, offensively I still think we have way more right plays to make. Hopefully, we can keep building and keep growing and keep adding to it, and then on nights where you really make shots, maybe you can get it into the 140s. Maybe you can do stuff like that and become a great team.”
Celtics fans should be encouraged by Stevens’ remarks. The head coach clearly sees untapped potential in his group, and it’s scary to think Boston hasn’t scratched the surface of its peak. This is a far cry from last season when the C’s and their fans were desperate for positivity. Now, it appears Boston is on a relentless pursuit of excellence.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Cavs:
— Brown echoed Stevens’ lack of complacency. Despite scoring a combined 64 points over his last two games, the fourth-year guard is maintaining tunnel vision.
“I’m just trying to be aggressive. I’m thinking about the next game,” Brown told Chin. “Big game coming up tomorrow, back-to-back. I haven’t played as well as I’ve wanted to on back-to-backs, so hopefully we can get another win.”
— Tatum entered the 2019-20 season with one 30-point performance to his credit. He already has four through 29 games this season.
— Brown and Tatum became just the third pair of Celtics teammates age 23 or younger to score 30-plus points in the same game, joining Paul Pierce and Antoine Walker as well as Bill Russell and Tommy Heinsohn, per ESPN Stats & Info.
— Boston outscored Cleveland 18-8 in second-chance points, per NBC Sports Boston.
— The second leg of the Celtics’ back-to-back is expected to signal the return of Marcus Smart, who’s missed Boston’s last eight games due to a severe eye infection.