Boston Celtics

Celtics vs. Spurs takeaways: C's assert their dominance in NYE blowout

The Celtics scored 120+ points for the seventh straight game, their longest such streak since 1967.

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Three Key Storylines

  • The Jays finish 2023 strong
  • Derrick White dominates in homecoming
  • C's get the full Wemby experience

The Boston Celtics put a bow on 2023 with a decisive road victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

It was a refreshing wire-to-wire win for the C's after their nail-biters against the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors. They led the Spurs by as many as 37 points in their New Year's Eve showdown and cruised to a 134-101 triumph.

Twelve different Celtics players scored in the blowout. Jayson Tatum (25 points) and Jaylen Brown (24 points) led the way in that department while Derrick White tallied 17 points in his return to San Antonio. Devin Vassell (22 points) and Victor Wembanyama (21 points) were the top scorers for the Spurs.

Next, the Celtics (26-6) will visit the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-9) on Tuesday night for their first game of 2024. Before we look ahead to the New Year, here are three takeaways from Sunday's win.

The Jays finish the year strong

When both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are making their shots, this Celtics team is near-impossible to beat. That was evident in Sunday's blowout.

Tatum set the tone with 15 first-half points. The four-time All-Star stayed hot in the third quarter with 10 points before resting the entire fourth.

He finished an efficient 10-of-17 from the floor, including 5-of-10 from 3-point range. His five 3s marked the most ever by a Celtics player on New Year's Eve. To top off his stellar performance, Tatum logged six rebounds, two assists, and two blocks in 31 minutes.

It was a similar night for Brown, who started strong with eight first-quarter points and stayed efficient the rest of the way. He tacked on 14 points in a dominant third quarter to finish with 24 in 26 minutes. Like Tatum, he was rested in the fourth with the C's up big.

Brown has been playing some of his best basketball for the last month. That continued Sunday night as he shot 9-of-13 from the floor while hitting both of his 3-pointers. He also notched six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

Derrick White shines in homecoming

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich heaped praise on White, who played for him in San Antonio from 2017 to 2022, before Sunday's game.

"I just couldn't be more proud of a player," he said. "When he first came, I don't think he believed he belonged in the NBA. And to watch him develop through the years here, starting with the G League and playing with us and then starting for us and then taking more steps in Boston has just been a thrill to watch.

"He's one of the greatest guys ever and his confidence has just exploded. ... It's been a great story. Starting out at the bottom and believing in himself and doing the work necessary to get where he is now. So, just thrilled for him."

White was traded to the Celtics at the 2022 NBA trade deadline and has been a key contributor for Boston ever since. In his return to San Antonio, he showed the Spurs and their fans what they've been missing.

The All-Defensive guard racked up 13 points in the first half while knocking down three 3-pointers. He also dished four assists through the first two frames.

White put the exclamation point on his homecoming with a thunderous dunk in the third quarter.

White sat for the entire fourth quarter alongside Tatum and Brown. In his 26 minutes, he totaled 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting to go with five assists and two rebounds.

The performance wraps up a sensational month for White. In December, White averaged 20.3 points, 5.4 assists and 4.0 rebounds in 14 games.

The San Antonio crowd recognized White with a "White's an All-Star" chant during Sunday's game. Given how great he's been on both ends of the floor, that's getting tough to argue against.

The full Wemby experience

Sunday's game marked the Celtics' first glimpse at 2023 first-overall pick Victor Wembanyama, the most hyped NBA draft prospect since LeBron James. At 7-foot-4 with an eight-foot wingspan, "Wemby" has made the Spurs must-watch television despite being among the worst teams in the league.

The France native's unique talents were on display vs. Boston. Fifteen of his 21 points came in the first half, and he made it look easy with plays like this one:

Later, White thought about blocking one of Wembanyama's lay-ups before the lengthy 19-year-old comically lifted the ball out of his reach.

Wemby shot 8-of-16 from the floor (3-8 3-PT) while logging seven rebounds, three assists, and a block. He impressed in his first career game vs. the C's and the scary part is, he's only going to get better. Much better.

The Celtics will host Wembanyama and the Spurs for a rematch on Jan. 17.

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