The Celtics made some history in their 127-117 win over the Timberwolves on Friday night.
Four Celtics players scored at least 25 points in Friday’s win, marking the first time in 60 years that four Celtics players scored at least 25 points in a game (Bob Cousy, Bill Russell, Tommy Heinsohn and Bill Sharman were the four to achieve the feat in the Celtics’ 144-126 win over the Knicks on Jan. 20, 1960).
For three of the Celtics’ top scorers on Friday – Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown – scoring 25 points in a game isn’t anything new, but it is for Daniel Theis.
The Celtics’ starting center scored a career-high 25 points and also grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds on Friday.
Theis downplayed his career night on offense and instead harped on the team’s defensive struggles.
“I don’t care about the scoring. I care about the defensive part,” Theis told reporters. “We still have to get better on defense.”
While Theis downplayed his performance, his teammates spoke highly of his scoring.
Tatum complimented not only Theis’ scoring night, but also his ability to do things not seen on the box score.
“Theis played great tonight,” Tatum, who scored 28 points on Friday, said. “He doesn’t always get a lot of attention, but he’s very vital to our team’s success night in and night out, and he’s capable of big games like this.
“I get a lot of buckets off of Theis setting screens. So I always make sure I say thank you,” Tatum added.
Hayward, who had a game-high 29 points, echoed Tatum’s sentiments.
“He’s really unselfish, and by that it’s not always passes,” Hayward said. “He just gives up his body a lot with his cuts, with his screens, sealing guys, letting us get open looks. He’s got a great feel for the game, so he knows where to be at different points in time, whether that’s rolling to the rim, half-rolling, popping. He’s a really good basketball player. And that’s just on that end. Defensively, he’s been our anchor all year. He’s really good for us. We need him.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens was a bit surprised by Theis’ night. Stevens subbed Theis out of the game with 9:36 remaining in the first quarter after Timberwolves center Naz Reid scored a quick four points.
“The first couple of possessions I would not have predicted [Theis having a career night],” Stevens said. “He got beat up pretty good. But he was great; he was a threat at the rim.”
THEIS 😤 pic.twitter.com/vmbFpjg0m6
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) February 22, 2020
What also made Friday night an impressive night for the Celtics’ offense was that they did it all without their All-Star point guard. Kemba Walker, who is averaging 21.8 points per game this season, missed Friday night’s game after he had his knee drained and received a Synvisc injection to help with swelling and soreness following Sunday’s All-Star Game.
Not having Walker wasn’t a problem for the Celtics on Friday, and Hayward said one of the Celtics’ biggest strengths is the number of players who can step up in scoring on any night.
“I thought we attacked from different places tonight with different guys,” Hayward said. “I think that’s good. That’s kind of the strength of our team, is the amount of guys that can go off at any point in time. Especially when we’re making the right plays and getting easy looks, we’re too talented. So we have to continue to do that.”