Halftime Hot Takes: Celtics leading Super Bowl Sunday matinee

Hauser Stays Hot

Maybe Memphis Head Coach Taylor Jenkins thought he could give his star player, Ja Morant, a break on defense by putting him on Sam Hauser. Bad idea. Hauser opened Boston’s scoring by cutting backdoor on Morant and hitting the layup. He then hit two semi-open threes, giving him 8 points in the first five minutes. He also had a steal that lead to a transition bucket. It appears that Hauser’s midseason shooting woes are behind him, as he’s shot 13/22 from deep over the previous three games, all Celtic wins.

Paint Pains

18 out of the Grizzlies 28 1st quarter points came in the paint. That was partially because the Celtics had six 1st quarter turnovers, leading to easy points on the other end. The Celtics weren’t offering much resistance on the perimeter, and the Grizzlies attacked the driving lanes. The Celtics eventually did a better job walling off the paint in the 2nd quarter, but on the whole, they didn’t come out with much energy. In a rare instance of strong interior defense, Tatum had this block on Morant:

Pritchard Provides a Spark

The Celtics offense got stagnant midway through the 1st quarter and the Grizzlies went on a 13-2 run. When Payton Pritchard entered at the 3:48 mark, he immediately made his presence felt by picking up Tyus Jones in the backcourt, preventing Memphis from getting into their early offense. He then hit two threes in the final minute of the quarter, cutting the Memphis lead to 28-26.

Four Out for the Best

Admittedly, I’m not familiar with the intricacies of Joe Mazzulla’s rotations, and I don’t know how often he’s subbed out four players in the middle of a competitive game. But he did it midway through the second quarter, bringing in Horford, Tatum, Kornet, and Hauser, while Derrick White was the only guy to stay in the game. It worked, as this lineup went on a 15-2 run. White, continuing his recent tear, scored 8 straight points that included this transition and 1:

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