Every day in the NBA there is a lot to unpack, so every weekday morning throughout the season we will give you the three things you need to know from the last 24 hours in the NBA.
1) The Gordon Hayward Boston thought it was getting showed up, Celtics impress routing Warriors. That is the Boston Celtics we expected to see all season, the Celtics who can beat anyone in the East. Apparently, they just needed to get out of the cold Boston winter, come to California and get warm.
Boston opened the game on an 11-0 run, got 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting off the bench from Gordon Hayward, moved the ball on offense, trusted each other, and most importantly communicated and were clean on their switches on defense. The result was the Celtics blowing out the defending NBA champ Warriors 128-95.
After dropping 5-of-6 in a string of sloppy losses, each defeat followed by comments about a lack of unity, this was the kind of game the Celtics needed. They played with the kind of joy the Warriors always talk about — Kyrie Irving looked like he was having fun, scoring 19, dropping 11 dimes, and barking at the Warriors bench.
Can the Celtics build on it during their four-game road trip through the West, or was this game the aberration?
Hayward was in attack mode from the minute he stepped on the court and was throwing down dunks all over the place.
What did we learn about Golden State? Nothing. They’re bored. They don’t have Klay Thompson. They find the regular season tedious and want to get on with the playoffs. That was the worst Warriors loss of the Steve Kerr era. Yawn.
To Boston, it doesn’t matter what Golden State team showed up — that was the kind of win this team desperately needed to turn things around before the playoffs.
Now we see whether it was a one-off, or the start of something.
2) Is Houston’s offense good enough to make them second best team in West? Looked like it against Toronto. Throughout James Harden’s historic run, and continuing through the Rockets’ current six-game win streak, one thing has been constant: Their defense still isn’t very good. Even during this win streak, when it’s been better, they have the 14th ranked defense in the league, just middle of the pack. It has put a damper on expectations.
But with Chris Paul resurgent and the offense clicking at an elite level, does it matter? Can the Rockets’ offense propel them to the Western Conference Finals?
It looked like it Tuesday when the Rockets went into Toronto and took a 22-point lead over the Raptors before eventually winning 107-95.
They still have Harden, who scored the team’s final 16 points and had 19 of his 35 in the fourth to secure the win.
Who is the second best team in the West? Oklahoma City? Denver? Portland? The Rockets, when playing like this, can hang with any of them. Even if their defense isn’t what it was a year ago.
3) Mike Conley reminds everyone why they should trade for him this summer, sparks Grizzlies upset of Trail Blazers. Some team is going to give up plenty this summer to trade for Mike Conley. No team met the Grizzlies high asking price at the trade deadline, but that will be different this summer (and the price likely drops a little).
Tuesday night showed why teams want the man.
Conley had 19 in the fourth, 40 for the game, and was the reason the Grizzlies beat the Trail Blazers Tuesday night. (Well, that and it was the final game of a seven-game road trip for Portland and the team was done.)
Next season, in a situation more conducive to winning than the starting-the-rebuild Grizzlies, Mike Conley is going to show everyone why he finally needs to be an All-Star one year.