Celtics-Pelicans takeaways: Tatum leads comeback win for Boston on MLK Day


The Boston Celtics are starting to find their groove and perhaps a boost of confidence in the second half of the 2021-22 NBA season.

The C's defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 104-92 in Monday afternoon's Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee at TD Garden. Boston trailed 29-18 after the first quarter, and it served as a wakeup call for the C's, who outscored the Pelicans 86-63 over the final three quarters.

The Celtics have now won four of their last five games, and they'll continue their homestand Wednesday night versus the Charlotte Hornets.

Here are three takeaways from Celtics-Pelicans.

1) C's erase deficit with impressive fight

The Celtics trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half, but instead of folding and jacking up bad shots, they fought back and cut the deficit to seven by halftime. 

After outscoring the Pelicans 32-23 in the third quarter to take their first lead of the game at 71-69, the C's continued to pour it on the fourth quarter and closed out a 104-92 victory.

Jayson Tatum led the charge in the final quarter. He scored nine points in the first five minutes of the frame to grow Boston's lead from two points to 15. The two-time All-Star scored 12 points in the quarter overall to lead all players with 27 on the afternoon.

Tatum also showed off his playmaking skill with a sweet bounce pass to Aaron Nesmith for the and-1.

These buckets were part of a 30-9 run the Celtics went on with five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

It looked like the Celtics were headed for another disappointing loss early in this game. But they didn't quit, and the effort they gave to not only erase a large deficit but win by 12 points is a pretty encouraging sign.

2) Dennis Schroder does it all

Schroder gave the Celtics a little bit of everything in one of his best all-around performances of the season.

The veteran point guard scored 23 points on 9-of-16 shooting, along with nine assists, five rebounds and two steals. The Celtics also were a plus-21 when Schroder was on the court.

Schroder is at his best when he attacks the basket looking for his own offense or to kick the ball out to an open shooter. He had that aggressive mindset Monday afternoon, and the Celtics need more of that from him on a consistent basis moving forward.

3) C's back over .500 in jumbled East race

The Celtics improved to 23-22 with their win over the Pelicans, which moves them into a tie with the New York Knicks for 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The C's have been a pretty inconsistent team throughout the season, and yet they are still just four games out of fourth place.

The East standings are very compact, with just 5.5 games separating the No. 2 and No. 10 seeds. 

If the Celtics are able to go on a little bit of a run, they could jump several spots in the standings before the All-Star break in mid-February.

What are the chances of Boston going on such a run? Well, the C's have won seven of their last 11 games and have pretty good health throughout the roster right now. And if you look at their upcoming schedule, it's full of opponents that are either struggling or just bad, including the Trail Blazers, Hawks, Wizards, Kings and the Pelicans again over the next two weeks.

It's a favorable schedule for the Celtics to build some much-needed momentum and improve their position in the playoff race.

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