It truly was an occasion when you can hang your hat on a loss, with Friday night’s matchup against the Utah Jazz offering a lot to feel good about for the Boston Celtics.
Five players reached double-digit scoring, led by Jayson Tatum (a game-high 37 points, six rebounds, five assists) and Al Horford (21 points, six rebounds, nine assists). The Celtics showed flashes of exemplary movement, and they shot 51.6% from the field and 100% in 22 free-throw attempts.
They made smart adjustments to space the floor and pull Rudy Gobert out of the lane, allowing the team to hang around against one of the best teams in the NBA.
The Jazz had gotten off to an absolutely ridiculous start, and finished that way too. But to lose by just seven points meant the Celtics had one of their best games of the year.
“It’s tough, but I was so proud of our group tonight because when that was happening, we were just going right back at them, you know, attacking them,” Horford said. “In the past I feel like that could have rattled us when they got it going early like. It could have gone in a different way. We tighten up, we kept fighting.
“Obviously want to win the game. But offensively we can look at it and take some positives from it because we were — it’s probably our best offensive game.”
Hopefully they can keep it rolling on the second night of a back-to-back Saturday in Portland against the Trail Blazers.