After dropping 130 points on the Washington Wizards without Jayson Tatum on Sunday, the Celtics put on yet another offensive clinic Monday night in their 140-105 win over the Charlotte Hornets. This time, the Celtics were without Jaylen Brown and Al Horford, and yet still managed to put up a season-high 140 points on an absurd 55-of-93 (59.1%) shooting.
Much like Sunday against Washington, Boston’s balanced offensive attack and ability to score in different ways was too much for Charlotte. The Celtics scored 54 points in the paint (38.5%) in the win, and poured in another 72 points from three (51.4%). They also totaled a season-high 40 assists. This was the first time the Celtics totaled 40 assists in a game since December 2008.
The depth of the Celtics was on full display as Boston advanced to 17-4 on the season and 4-0 on the second night of back-to-backs. Here are three takeaways from another Celtics win fueled by their phenomenal offensive play.
The Celtics built a 26-point lead by the end of the first quarter as they erupted for 45 points on 17-of-23 (73.9%) shooting. Boston’s 45-point first quarter is the fifth most scored by a team in a quarter this season, and the third-most scored in a first quarter. The Celtics totaled 13 assists in the first quarter, as 76% of their buckets were assisted on.
Not to be overlooked, the Celtics defense played some great ball in the first quarter as well. Boston held Charlotte to just 19 points, and forced five turnovers. It was just the seventh time the Celtics held an opponent under 20 points in a quarter.
The Celtics had three players (Tatum, Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon) in double figures after the first quarter, as they built a commanding lead they would hold for the entire game.
Smart has been outstanding for the Celtics on both ends of the floor this season, and Monday night was no different. Smart notched his fifth double-double of the season as he dropped 22 points and finished with a career-high 15 assists. Smart now has five 10-assist games on the season.
Smart has fit his role perfectly for the Celtics, as he has been a driving force behind the high assist numbers. Over the course of the Celtics’ current four-game win streak, Smart has totaled 43 assists. Smart has been dishing the ball to teammates, and when his number has been called to score this season, he has answered the call.
After the game, when asked how he is seeing the court right now, Smart said, “With X-Ray vision.”
He might not be kidding. Smart’s 15 assists on Monday was the most by a Celtic since Isaiah Thomas had 15 assists against the Jazz on Jan. 3, 2017.
Entering Monday night, Blake Griffin had not played in a game since Nov. 16, when the Celtics were in Atlanta. Griffin got his third start of the season on Monday and he showed shades of the old Blake Griffin.
Griffin played a season-high 22 minutes on Monday night and scored nine points, which was also a season high. Griffin opened the game’s scoring with a three from the top of the key and would grab two offensive rebounds on the Celtics’ fourth possession of the game.
Interim head coach Joe Mazzulla praised the 13-year vet after the game, saying, "I like Blake because he’s a great person. He’s been great for our team on and off the court… I thank him for his professionalism and his work ethic to stay ready."
Mazzulla went on to say Griffin is a perfect fit for the group.