There were several instances last season when the Boston Celtics played down to the competition and lost games to inferior opponents. A couple of Orlando Magic losses come to mind.
But they didn't fool around Monday night in the nation's capital.
The Celtics came out on fire against the Washington Wizards and built a 42-19 lead after the first quarter. They even led 60-30 at one point in the second quarter.
Stay in the game with the latest updates on your beloved Boston sports teams! Sign up here for our All Access Daily newsletter.
Jaylen Brown (36 points) and Jayson Tatum (33) led the way as the Celtics dominated wire-to-wire in a 126-107 win at Capital One Arena. The C's rested their starters in the fourth quarter with the outcome decided.
It's hard to take too much from this game. After all, the Wizards are an awful team and likely will be a top contender for the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. But it still was an impressive showing by the Celtics, who have started the 2023-24 campaign 3-0. The last time the C's started 3-0 in consecutive seasons was 1976-77.
The C's will return to TD Garden for a matchup against the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. But before we look ahead to that matchup, here are three takeaways from Celtics-Wizards.
Dominant start powers C's
The Celtics played an almost-perfect first quarter. They scored 42 (!) points, and it wasn't because of a 3-point barrage or a ton of cheap foul shots. The C's hit four of their eight 3-point attempts and two of their three free throws. Most of the damage was done inside the arc, where Boston shot 14-of-20 (70 percent) and just overpowered Washington.
The Wizards had no answers for the C's around the rim, as you can see in the shot chart below.
The Celtics came close to breaking matching their all-time record for first-quarter points. Larry Bird's Celtics scored 50 in a 145-144 win against the Denver Nuggets at the old Boston Garden on Feb. 5, 1982.
More Celtics coverage
Jaylen Brown led the way with 16 points on 6-for-9 shooting. He hit all four of Boston's 3-pointers in the quarter. Kristaps Porzingis scored 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
The Celtics also won the rebounding battle 15-8 and forced seven Wizards turnovers over the first 12 minutes. It all added up to a 42-19 lead for the C's entering the second quarter.
The Jays put on a show
Jaylen Brown was on fire in the first half. He scored 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting, including an impressive 7-for-10 mark from 3-point range, through two quarters. His seven 3-pointers in the first half tied a C's record.
Brown finished with 36 points on 13-for-24 shooting (8-for-13 from 3-point range) with six rebounds, two assists and three steals in 32 minutes.
Brown started the season slowly with 11 points in the opener against the Knicks, but he scored 27 against the Heat last Friday before dropping 36 versus the Wizards. One of the most impressive aspects of Brown's performance Monday night was the fact he had zero turnovers.
Jayson Tatum gave a fantastic performance of his own against the Wizards. He scored 33 points on 14-for-21 shooting (6-for-9 from 3-point range) with six rebounds and three assists in 28 minutes.
Tatum and Brown combined to score 69 points through three quarters, which was just six points fewer than the Wizards had as a team. Neither player played in the fourth quarter.
Monday's game was the 23rd time Tatum and Brown both scored at least 30 points. The Celtics are now 22-1 in those matchups. The only duos since 1985 with more 30-point games together are Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Sam Hauser's struggles continue
It was hard to find many negatives from this game, but Sam Hauser's struggles are starting to become a bit of a concern.
Hauser is a very good 3-point shooter, but he can also be inconsistent. He has struggled to find a rhythm to begin the season, shooting just 3-for-15 from beyond the arc over three games.
Hauser hit just two of his nine attempts from 3-point range against the Wizards. He shot 3-for-10 overall.
The Celtics have the best starting five in the league, and those guys are going to carry the large majority of the scoring burden each game. But injuries and slumps are inevitable, and there will be times throughout the season (and even in the playoffs) when the bench has to make an impact offensively.
Hauser has the potential to be a real X-factor with his outside shooting. But if he's not hitting 3-pointers at a good rate, it's hard to keep him on the floor because he doesn't do anything else at a super-high level. The Celtics really need him to find some consistency from deep.