Three Things To Know is NBC’s five-days-a-week wrap-up of the night before in the NBA. Check out NBCSports.com every weekday morning to catch up on what you missed the night before plus the rumors, drama, and dunks that make the NBA must-watch.
1) Back home, Tatum breaks out of slump to score 41, outduels Mitchell (44) in win
Jayson Tatum had been in a bit of a shooting slump, which seemed to infect everyone on the team in losing to the Knicks Tuesday. On the big stage of Madison Square Garden, Tatum was 1-of-9 from 3, and the Celtics as a whole shot 21.4% from deep.
What they needed was some home cooking. Tatum scored 41 points and hit 4-of-6 from deep, and the Celtics shot 50% from beyond the arc for the night.
The man is unstoppable pic.twitter.com/hwnNEjypZq
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 2, 2023
Al Horford added 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Jaylen Brown scored 16 points for the Celtics.
Boston needed all of that because Donovan Mitchell went off for 44. That included a stretch in the third quarter when it looked like he was injured after slipping on a wet floor, but he stayed in the game and scored the next 10 Cavaliers points.
Donovan Mitchell tonight:
4 threes pic.twitter.com/VjnuM3L1pF
— NBA (@NBA) March 2, 2023
It’s a March win that is good for the Celtics’ ego (not that they needed it). This is a potential second-round matchup in the East, if Boston climbs past red-hot Milwaukee for the top seed again, and Cleveland had won the first two meetings and gained confidence. Boston could use this win and the problems they caused the Cavaliers if these teams face off in the postseason.
2) Kevin Durant‘s fit looks seamless in Suns debut
The Suns picked a soft landing spot to bring Kevin Durant into the lineup, a struggling Hornets team now without LaMelo Ball for the rest of the season.
KD showed out in his Suns debut:
☀️ 23 PTS
☀️ 6 REB
☀️ 10/15 FG
Phoenix gets the W in Charlotte, 105-91 pic.twitter.com/rAdSKeEgn3
— NBA (@NBA) March 2, 2023
Even so, Durant’s debut could not have gone much better, with him scoring 23 on 10-of-15 shooting. His fit could not have looked more seamless in a comfortable Phoenix win. Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Chris Paul played floor general and dished out 11 assists.
What’s better for Suns fans is this looks like a team built for the playoffs — Durant and Booker can get their shot without a big setting a pick and bringing a second defender into the picture, and they both can destroy an opponent from the midrange (the shots most teams give up in the postseason).
It’s just one game, it’s far too early to draw sweeping conclusions about the Suns. But that was a damn good one game.
3) Jaden Ivey calls timeout when the Pistons have none, they go on to lose
Down two with 9.7 seconds left, there was only a 15.7% chance the Pistons would come back to beat the Bulls (according to Inpredictable’s win probability calculator). But the Pistons were taking the ball out at midcourt, they were going to get a shot and a chance at overtime, or to win it.
Then Jaden Ivey had a moment.
Ivey called a timeout when the Pistons had none — a play that forever brings up images of Chris Webber — and that meant free throws and the ball for the Bulls. Game over.
It’s a learning process for a young team in Detroit, chalk this up to that. Still, someone by Dwane Casey a drink.
Chicago needed the win as they sit 11th in the East, two back in the loss column from Washington and the final play-in spot.