Celtics-Grizzlies notes: Marcus Smart shines in C win

The Boston Celtics beat the Memphis Grizzlies Monday night for their third straight win.

With the help of a 20-0 in the second quarter, C improved to 7-3 on the season. Jason Tatum (39 points) scored 10 points in that round and scored 25 points in the first half. Grizzlies star Ja Morante (30 points) responded with 14 points in the third quarter to help Memphis reclaim the lead heading into fourth, but Boston ran away with a tough 109-106 win.

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The Celtics will return home to face the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. Here are three takeaways from Victory Monday.

Another transient clinic from Marcus Smart

Tatum did his usual damage to the scoring column, but Smart was probably the best player on the floor Monday night in Memphis.

Smart started off hot with 10 points and four assists in the first quarter. Between his scoring and his passing, the veteran base played a role in the Celtics’ first 16 points of the match.

His excellent gameplay was shown for the rest of the match as he finished with 12 assists. That’s now 23 assists – the most he has made in two games – for only three times in his last two games.

It was also Smart’s second consecutive game with a double where he ended up with 15 points in the win.

Boston’s attack was fired on all cylinders for most of the game, and Smart was at the center of it all. He has become much more than a defensive-minded goalkeeper since taking on a key role last season.

Jayson Tatum unlocked a new level

Tatum said last month that he would exchange individual awards for Banner 18, but the Celtics star plays at MVP level during the first 10 games of the campaign.

The 39-point performance was no surprise. Instead, it’s how he got to that number. In past seasons, his scoring eruptions were largely caused by hotness outside of the arc, but there has been a noticeable difference to his style this year.

Tatum makes a concerted effort to get to the free throw line. The 24-year-old’s career average is in free-throw attempts per game after he was 12 or 16 from the charity strip on Monday night. He hit the highest level of his career with 20 free throw attempts before two games.

With these extra opportunities to put points on the board, it’s no surprise that Tatum scored the most points in C history during his first 10 games of the season.

The fact that Tatum can only shoot 3 for 11 from a 3-point range and still drop 39 should terrify the rest of the NBA. If he can continue to damage the paint, we can expect him to be steadfastly engaged in the MVP conversation next summer.

Ja Morant does Ja Morant things

This was a massive duel between two stars at Tatum and Morant. While Tatum emerged victorious, Morante’s stunning show shouldn’t be ignored.

Morant helped the Grizzlies return to the game with a 14-point lead in the third quarter. Memphis went on the 15-2 round to steal the lead heading into fourth.

Despite his team’s failure to hold on, Morant made a turn on both ends of the floor. The No. 2 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft led his team with 30 points in a 10-of-24 shootout (5-12 3-PT) and demonstrated his elite sportsmanship in the process.

Morant added nine assists, eight rebounds, two captures and that electrifying mass for good measure.

He could be there with Tatum in the MVP race when all is said and done.

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