Celtics-Wizards takeaways: Tatum ends slump with dominant performance originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics snapped their two-game skid as they blew out the Washington Wizards on Sunday, 116-87.
Jayson Tatum led the way with a masterful performance for the C's. The All-Star wing dropped a season-high 51 points to quiet the talk about his shooting slump. Jaylen Brown added 18 points for Boston.
Tatum's good friend Bradley Beal had a team-high 19 points for the Wizards while Deni Avdija chipped in 13.
Here are three instant takeaways from the Celtics' win, which brings them back to .500 on the season at 24-24. Next up is a Tuesday matchup with the Sacramento Kings back at TD Garden.
Jayson Tatum snaps out of shooting slump
After missing 20 consecutive 3-pointers over his last few games, Tatum made an emphatic statement on Sunday. The 23-year-old set a career-high with nine 3s made on 14 attempts. He was 18-for-28 from the field as he dropped at least 50 points for the fifth time in his career (playoffs included).
Tatum tallied 31 of those points in the first half, becoming the first player with 30+ points in the first half of a game this season. His nine 3s were more than he had made in his last seven games combined.
How's that for a response?
Tatum didn't only impact the win with his scoring. He had a double-double with 10 rebounds and also dished out seven assists for the second straight game. He was responsible for only one turnover.
The Celtics will hope to see this version of their superstar more often as they look to ascend in the Eastern Conference standings.
Marcus Smart makes an immediate impact
Marcus Smart returned for the C's after missing the last six games due to a thigh contusion and health and safety protocols. The veteran picked up right where he left off with a strong performance.
Smart got the start at point guard and was a team-best +36. He also dished a team-high six assists while adding 11 points on 4-of-9 shooting (2-of-6 from 3).
Per usual, Smart's presence was felt mostly on the defensive end as he notched four steals.
Smart's effort helped limit Washington to a 35.5% shooting performance from the field. Wizards guards Spender Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal shot a combined 8-for-29, 0-for-10 from 3.
Rob Williams, Al Horford handle the load at center
The Celtics rolled with Robert Williams and Al Horford as their two big men on Sunday, leaving Enes Freedom out of the rotation. Ime Udoka's move comes as a result of Freedom's struggles on the defensive end.
The decision appeared to pay off as Washington was unable to get anything going offensively against the Williams/Horford combo. Williams was a +32 on the day with eight points, eight boards, four assists, and two blocks. Horford had seven points to go with eight rebounds.
If Udoka's strategy is a harbinger of what's to come, we'll see less Freedom going forward and more of the C's young guns. That means more Grant Williams, who contributed 10 points and drilled two of his three 3-pointers.