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May 29, 2024

Celtics Stay Perfect at Home, Defeat Spurs 117-98 Behind Tatum’s 24 Points

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Jan 18, 2024

The Boston Celtics continued their perfect home record, defeating the San Antonio Spurs 117-98 on Wednesday night to improve to 20-0 at TD Garden. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 24 points.

Strong Showing From Tatum Powers Celtics Past Spurs

Led by All-Star forward Jayson Tatum’s 24 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, the Celtics took down the visiting Spurs to remain unbeaten at home on the 2023-24 season. Tatum got it done on both ends, playing solid defense on Spurs rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama while also efficiently scoring on 11-17 shooting from the field and 2-4 from downtown.

Having a consistent night from their go-to guy allowed Boston to control this contest wire-to-wire, leading by 10 at halftime and by as much as 21 in a dominant second half. Tatum spoke about the victory after the game:

“It’s great to get the win to keep our streak alive here at TD Garden. The fans have been awesome and it gives us a lot of energy when we’re home. I wanted to come out aggressive on both ends and set the tone against a very talented Spurs group.”

Jaylen Brown added 18 points for Boston as the only other Celtic in double figures.

Wembanyama Impresses in Defeat

While the Celtics were able to contain Wembanyama and get the victory, the 19-year-old rookie showed glimpses as to why he’s viewed as a generational talent and future MVP candidate. Wembanyama stuffed the stat sheet, scoring 23 points on 8-16 shooting, 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks.

He used his incredible 7’8″ length to shoot over defenders, rebound in traffic and protect the rim. Several of Wembanyama’s buckets showed off a guard-like fluidity with slick spin moves or step-throughs around would-be shot-blockers. After the loss, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had high praise for his rookie phenom:

“Victor played a very nice all-around game for us tonight. Offensively, he showed he can score from all three levels. He’s continuing to adapt to the NBA’s physicality and speed.”

If Wembanyama continues developing at his current trajectory, it truly is scary to imagine what his ceiling could become in a few years. Though the Spurs came up short tonight, their prized rookie gave them plenty to be excited about moving forward as a cornerstone of the franchise.

Short-Handed Spurs Put Up Fight in Boston

Defeating even a shorthanded Spurs team on their home floor is an impressive feat these days considering San Antonio’s success away from home. The Spurs entered play Wednesday with the NBA’s best road record at 16-3 and fresh off Monday’s shocking win over the 76ers in Philadelphia.

However, the Spurs were without two injured starters in this one, making the task of taking down the East-leading Celtics even more difficult:

Player Injury Status
Derrick White Ankle Out
Kristaps Porzingis Achilles Out

The game remained relatively close through the first half, with Boston taking a slim 10-point edge into the locker room. The second half proved to be too much for the undermanned Spurs to keep up with though, as Boston’s #1 rated offense pulled away.

Devin Vassell had a team-high 26 points for San Antonio as their next man up off the bench to fill in for injured players. Jeremy Sochan added a 14-point, 11-rebound double-double. After the loss, coach Popovich called it a “back-to-reality” game for his overachieving group after the incredible victory just two days ago:

“We were coming off an emotional win in Philadelphia, played Boston tough early on but they finally got us a bit gassed since we didn’t have our full rotation tonight.”

Improved Defense Fuels Boston’s Impressive Start

At the season’s midway point, Boston has emerged with the NBA’s top record at 35-13 – two games ahead of the second-place Bucks (33-15). An improved defense from last year’s squad has fueled their rise into serious title contention after falling short in the Finals.

The Celtics rank 3rd in the league in defensive rating compared to 12th last season. Adding Malcolm Brogdon last offseason and getting Robert Williams III back fully healthy has transformed them into a versatile defensive juggernaut. After missing all but 32 games a year ago, Timelord has been a game-changer patrolling the back line alongside Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. Their length and activity completely shut down the painted area tonight, holding San Antonio to just 38 points in the paint and 40% shooting from the field.

What’s Next

The Celtics will finish off their 5-game homestand on Friday night against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at 8PM ET in a potential NBA Finals preview matchup. Boston’s 20-game win streak at TD Garden dates back to last season when they reeled off an absurd 27 straight wins in front of their home crowd from mid-January up until their Game 1 loss to Golden State in June.

As for the Spurs, they’ll look to bounce back on Saturday night in Chicago versus the Bulls. In a key stretch before the All-Star break, the team will be tested with upcoming games against the 76ers, Hawks and Suns. Getting Derrick White and Kristaps Porzingis healthy during this time will be crucial as they try locking up a top-4 seed out West.

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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