Celtics, the NBA’s best, host worst-in-West Spurs

Celtics, the NBA’s best, host worst-in-West Spurs

THE Boston Celtics are hoping to have Jaylen Brown in the lineup when they face the visiting San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.

Brown sat out Boston’s 105-96 victory over the Raptors on Monday because of a hyperextended right knee. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla said before Monday’s game that Brown was dealing with soreness in the knee, but the injury was not considered serious.

Brown is averaging 23.4 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game this season.

“I think this year we’ve shown that regardless of who’s out there’s an affirmation that everyone is going to step up,” Mazzulla said.

Jayson Tatum had 19 points and 14 rebounds in Monday’s win, which improved Boston’s home record to 19-0. Jrue Holiday tossed in a season-high 22 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter. Derrick White also scored 22 points, including a key 3-pointer with just over a minute to play.

“I just took the opportunities that were given to me and really just tried to be aggressive at both ends of the floor,” Holiday said. “(White is) an All-Star. I think the things that he does a lot of times go unnoticed.

“The way that he plays, the way that he carries this team – especially with JB out (against Toronto) he hit a big shot there in the corner – that’s what D. White does.”

The Spurs, who have the worst record in the Western Conference, are coming off Monday’s 109-99 loss at Atlanta. The Hawks led 46-16 in the second quarter and 69-34 at halftime.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich sent a message to his team by sending out three reserves with Jeremy Sochan and Julian Champagnie to start the second half.

“I thought the starting team in the third quarter made their point, and the first team came back in and competed the way they’re getting paid to compete, so in that sense it made it a good night,” Popovich said.

San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama, a 7-foot-4 rookie, was scoreless at halftime, but had 26 points (nine dunks) in the second half. He also finished the game with 13 rebounds.

Wembanyama, the No. 1 pick in last year’s NBA draft, is averaging 19.6 points and 10.3 rebounds in 28.6 minutes per game.

“I’ve gotten better at adapting my game more to the league, and it shows,” Wembanyama said. “My efficiency, especially since being on restricted minutes, is up, so there’s real progress.

“(Against Atlanta) a majority of bench players showed us how to do it. It worked.”

Wednesday’s matchup will be the second game between the teams this season. Tatum scored 25 points and Brown finished with 24 when Boston prevailed 134-101 at San Antonio on Dec. 31. The Celtics built a 37-point lead in that game and rested their starters for most of the fourth quarter.

Devin Vassell led San Antonio with 22 points in the loss. Wembanyama had 21 points and seven rebounds.

The Celtics, who have the best record in the NBA, will be trying to extend their two-game winning streak. The Spurs have lost two in a row and seven of their past nine. — Reuters