Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens on Friday acknowledged how the double-big lineup of Tristan Thompson and Daniel Theis didn’t exactly invoke immediate results early on this season.
“We all know the numbers weren’t good in the first two or three weeks of the season, but we won a lot of those games,” Stevens told reporters after Boston’s 121-109 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. “I think they just got better. They got a better feel for playing with one another.”
It certainly seemed that way against the Hawks.
Thompson tied his previous season-high of 17 points on an efficient 8-for-9 from the field with five rebounds and three assists. Theis finished with 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting with a well-rounded eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks.
The Theis-to-Thompson high-low connection in the third quarter was then followed up with Thompson-to-Theis in the fourth. Ultimately, it helped Boston hold a clear advantage inside, outscoring Atlanta 66-52 in the paint with 12 blocked shots as a team.
“Me and DT (Theis), we’re forming that connection,” Thompson told reporters Friday. “I think we do a good job playing off each other. We know what our strengths are, and our weaknesses. And we know we can help each other be great out there. You saw that (Friday) — whether it’s me boxing out and him getting the rebound, him boxing out me getting the rebound, or blocking a shot, or us on offense playing that high-low action — 90s big-man basketball.
“We know what to do out there,” Thompson continued. “We’re both very intelligent basketball players. We know how to read the floor, but we also know how to share the ball and keep the ball moving.”
The 15-14 Celtics will try to carry that presence in the paint with them into New Orleans on Sunday when they face the Pelicans.
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