1. Jaylen Brown heard the noise and responded perfectly - and displayed effective new partnership with Boston Celtics offseason splash
Jaylen Brown certainly heard the noise that was directed his way after the loss to the Charlotte Hornets but responded with an incredible performance which led to a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Brown ended the game with 26 points, two rebounds, eight assists, one steal, and shot the ball with remarkable consistency - 10/16 from the field (62.5%), and 3/5 from beyond the arc (60%). One of the most notable things from his performance was his link-up play with Kristaps Porzingis, which is something I suspect we will get used to seeing on a regular basis.
This performance earned him "Player of the Game", his lob pass to Porzingis got "Play of the Game", and he silenced the doubters in the process - for now anyway.
However, as of now, Brown is marked down as "Questionable" for the In-Season clash with the Orlando Magic due to a right adductor strain. I hope he makes a quick recovery and that we aren't waiting too long to see him back on the court as the Bucks game made it evident that Brown is still a top player and a vital part of this Celtics roster.
2. Jayson Tatum had his own "flu game" - channelling his inner Michael Jordan
Celtics fans read in horror that Jayson Tatum's name was on the NEBH Injury Report as "Questionable" ahead of the game against the Bucks due to a non-covid illness - was Tatum about to have his own flu game? Or was Tatum about to miss this crucial game? Fortunately, it was the former.
The concept of a "flu game" became infamous due to Michael Jordan's performance in Game 5 all the way back in 1995. In this game, he played through the illness and ended the game with 38 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in a mind-blowing 44 minutes - an incredible amount of time considering the illness.
Tatum's "flu game" wasn't a Game 5, but any game against the Bucks will be guaranteed to be filled with intensity and that must-win feeling. He finished the Bucks game with 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and one block - not quite Jordan numbers, but still an impressive feat.
We all hope that Tatum has made a full recovery and that he will be back to his healthy best for the game against the Magic.
3. Jrue Holiday struggled offensively against his former team in a bittersweet reunion - but had the last laugh
Jrue Holiday had a reunion with his former side the Milwaukee Bucks, which was nothing short of bittersweet.
Before the game tipped off, Holiday shared some laughs, smiles, and some handshakes with his former championship-winning side. Yes, there were good feelings between him and his former teammates, but once he left the locker room, it was business as usual for the Celtics guard.
When assessing his individual performance on paper, it's easy to say that Holiday didn't have a good reunion performance as he concluded the game with five points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block. However, these numbers only scratch the surface of his overall impact on the game.
This was undoubtedly not the best performance that we have seen from the All-Defensive guard, but on the defensive end of the court, Holiday did his job - and he did it well.
Throughout this season we have seen that Holiday has fearlessly embraced the challenge of guarding opponents who often tower over him in size and stature. This was first evident when he stood one-on-one with the reigning MVP Joel Embiid, and didn't shy away from guarding the two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in their most recent game. As well as guarding Giannis on occasions, Holiday, and his backcourt partner, Derrick White, made life difficult for the Bucks' new arrival Damian Lillard as they held him to seven points when being guarded by them.
As I have mentioned before, when the Celtics offensive unit is having an off night, players like Holiday are needed to step up and score buckets, but in games like this one, his defensive capabilities are enough to help his side secure the victory.
Brown isn't the only one with his name appearing on the injury report as Holiday is also listed on the injury report for the Magic game - but unlike Brown, he is listed as "Probable" and not "Questionable". I hope to see both on the court as soon as possible, preferably on Friday.
4. Make or break time for the Orlando Magics In-Season Tournament hopes
As the group stage of the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament is coming to an end, it is make or break time for the Orlando Magic.
The top sides from each group qualify for the knockout stages, as well as one team from each conference that has the best record. If the Orlando Magic want to see the knockout stages, this is a must-win.
They are currently third in the East Group C with two wins and one loss, the same record as the Brooklyn Nets who are only ahead on point differential - the Nets have +7 and the Magic have +5.
In the East Group B, the Bucks (+36), the Knicks (+16), and the Heat (+13) are all ahead on point differential so a win against the Celtics by itself might not be enough to keep them in the competition. The Celtics have lost only three games this season, two of them by only three points, and the other loss by five points. If the Magic are to see the Knockout stages, then they will have to do what no other team has done so far, and that is beat the Celtics by a significant margin. Can the Magic do the unthinkable?
5. Orlando Magic's remarkable evolution - 5 consecutive wins reflect transformation
As I'm sure all NBA fans are aware, this isn't the same Orlando Magic that we saw last season. With victories over the Lakers, Bucks, and most recently the Denver Nuggets, the Magic are proving themselves to be a legit contender this year, evident in victories over three of the last four NBA Champions. Can they make it victories over the last four NBA Champions when they face the Golden State Warriors in January?
The Magic boasts an array of young talent, with names like Paulo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and more. With this young side already performing at this level, it's frightening to think about the future of this organization - unless you're a Magic fan that is.
Last year, the Orlando Magic finished the 13th seed with a record of 34W - 48L, and look unrecognizable to how they are 15 games into this season. This organization has taken a massive leap in such a short amount of time, but can they continue this run of form for the duration of the season?
The future of the Orlando Magic is looking bright, but in the short term, they have to take on the favorites to win it all, the Boston Celtics, if they want to advance in the inaugural NBA In-Season Tournament. Do they have what it takes? Or will the Celtics prove to be too big of a hurdle for this young team?