NBA Saturdays: Boston Celtics @ San Antonio Spurs

The Boston Celtics reign supreme over the new look and depleted Eastern Conference. After their win in San Antonio Saturday night, they moved to 7-1. The Spurs dropped to 5-4.

For many around the league, the assumption was that the Celtics would take a step back after losing Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris to free agency. Yes, they added Kemba Walker but the real question was about the young stars that anchor the organization.

With Walker and a healthy Gordon Hayward, are the mostly very young Celtics ready to burst land atop the East? As of now, It appears so.

Jaylen Brown led Boston in scoring, finishing with 30 points. Jayson Tatum added 19, Walker dropped 26, and Marcus Smart led the bench with 16 points.

Gordon was off to his best season since leaving Utah before injuring his non-shooting hand in the victory. Averaging 19 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists, even with the injury the feeling is that Hayward is back. There is no timetable at the moment but it appears Hayward won’t be seeing the court for at least six weeks.

The final score in San Antonio was 135 -115. Boston will look to improve to 8-1 when they take on the Mavs. The Spurs matchup with the rebuilding Grizzlies in their next game.

BOSTON CELTICS

Kemba Walker

Q: You’ve had slow starts on the road?

KW: “It’s something that has not been going our way. I think it’s really good that we find a way to stay in these games and still compete when we start slow. But that has to change. It can’t keep up this whole season. Teams that take advantage of that, it can be tough for us. We can’t play catchup the whole season.”

Q: How do you do that? Come out and match their energy?

KW: “It’s just us, me as well. I’ve got to set the tone, especially being one of the leaders on the team. I’ve got to just get my guys ready to start the game. Even me, it starts with me a lot. I’ve got to have better starts as well.”

Q: Do you feel like you’re playing differently than you have in the past?

KW: “I don’t think I’m playing differently at all. I can’t put my finger on it. It’s just something that we have to be conscious of. You just have to get better. I think for us, it starts on the offensive end. I think it gets in our heads. It starts to get frustrating. We’ve missed shots early and it trickles down to our defence. We just have to be better. We’re not going to make shots all the time. We can’t control the offence all the time, but we can control the defence with our energy, so that’s where we’ve got to start.”

Q: What changes for you when you start alongside Marcus Smart?

KW: “Nothing. Just knowing I have a warrior beside me, a guy that’s going to get after it with everything’s he’s got on the court. I love playing alongside him. He’s an awesome teammate, really fun to be around, really fun to play with. His passion for the game is second to none. I just know that I’ve got somebody that’s a warrior, man. I know we’re definitely going to go as he goes.”

Q: Do you watch other games?

KW: “Yeah, I love watching basketball. I love watching other friends around the league when I get a chance to watch those guys. I watch other teams. My League Pass is always on.”

Jayson Tatum

Q: You’re only 21-years-old but you seem to get more responsibility every week, how do you deal with those responsibilities in the game?

JT: “It’s what you work for. I am relatively young in age, but it’s my third year in the NBA. I got my feet wet a couple of years. It’s just being comfortable.”

Q: You scored the game-winner against the Knicks on a mid-range turnaround. Is that something you’ve been working on a little, putting more attention to it in the game?

JT: “Yeah, especially in situations like that, low clock, got to get a contested shot off.”

Q: Did you learn a little bit on that shot working with Kobe?

JT: “Yeah, he taught me some things… Positioning, footwork, reading what the defence gives you.”

Q: How much fun and different has it been playing with Kemba so far this season?

JT: “It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve got off to a great start. It’s still early, but hopefully, we can keep it going.”

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