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5 receipts as Evan Fournier’s hot shot helps the Celtics destroy the Hornets



COMMENT

The Boston Celtics snatched an eyebrow-raising victory against the Charlotte Hornets on Sunday, claiming a 116-86 victory.

Here’s what happened.

The big picture

The Celtics fought early and looked on their way to a well-known unfortunate game in the first quarter.

Then the second unit, challenged by Evan Fournier and (perhaps) Romeo Langford, helped propel the Celtics in the 19-4 series, which took control of the game. The Celtics never lost in the second half and ended one of the most encouraging victories of their season.

Star of the game

Evan Fournier – 17 points, shooting 5 for 9, 3 for 4 out of three

Other Celtics had slightly better static lines, but Fournier was a huge part of the unit that changed the game and showed how important an addition he can be, while the Celtics seem to be building to the playoffs. More on it (and the second unit) in a minute.

What does it mean

It̵

7;s hard to say. The second unit really looks stronger with Fournier in traction. Langford’s defense will be a big boost when he gets healthy and Grant Williams plays a few good minutes in the center. Perhaps most importantly, the Celtics looked like they were having fun for the first time in a while. This team spent most of the season looking miserable trying to figure things out, but Sunday brought real smiles.

There are a few factors that cut into the good vibes and we will get into them, but the Celtics have found some reasons for optimism in a season that has so far offered very little.

Taking

1. The Celtics raised absolutely 3 points and on Sunday made a serious help. After a slow start, the Celtics finished 21-for-54 (38.9%) in depth. The section where they looked like the worst version of themselves coincided with the section where they missed all their threes.

The good news for the Celtics is that they hit a lot of shots behind the arc and when they make a lot of shots, they are a good basketball team. The news is that a team that hasn’t always scored 3 points in a row is hot, and we probably need to keep our judgment until we see if they keep rolling.

2. All this said that the second unit looks much better with Fournier. His presence keeps the good players on the floor longer and adds a lot of points. Before that, the second team needed Jason Tatum to be a superstar, to have a chance. Now, Tatum isn’t the only reliable presence, which means the Celtics can actually win sections they’ve often sprayed this season.

3. Robert Williams continued to shine, finishing with 16 points in shooting 7 for 9 and eight rebounds. At this point, it seems impossible for Brad Stevens to consider returning Tristan Thompson to the starting lineup when he returns – Williams’ impact was obvious. Before Sunday’s game, Williams’ net rating for the last five was +15.8.

Williams has a tough test against the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Embid – a test he never actually did. If Thompson doesn’t return (and it looks unlikely he’ll show up), Stevens may have no choice but to let Williams take him.

4. Slightly lower expectations: The Hornets were without LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward (and will be for the next four weeks) and never looked really competitive. Don’t be surprised if they fall for a long time without two of their best players.

5. I’m glad to see that the Celtics still appreciate Rosie, who was a very funny person in Boston (except for the 2018-19 season, but it’s hard to blame him for that).

Sunday’s game looked fun. Very few Celtics games looked fun this year. We’ll see if it continues.

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