The Celtics had reason to feel good coming off the wire-to-wire win over the Raptors in Game 1 of the NBA‘s Eastern Conference semifinals in Orlando, a game in which they shot 47.0% from the field and held Toronto to just 36.9% shooting. Boston won nearly every category on the stat sheet and shackled Raptors star Pascal Siakam, who scored 13 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
On Monday, they loosened up. And when it comes to loosening up around this team, 7-foot-5-inch Senegalese big man Tacko Fall is usually involved. Fall, who is on a two-way contract and played most of his minutes with the Maine Red Claws of the G-League this season, has played only one game for the Celtics in the NBA restart and almost certainly will not play in the postseasaon. But he remains a big part of the team’s loose atmosphere.
In between games, it was the Tacko swimming show. Fall has yet to learn how to swim, something that has become a running story in the Boston area. In Florida, Jaylen Brown and Enes Kanter took up the mantle of trying to teach him in the hotel pool, in a video posted by Kanter.
Tacko Swim Class 🌮😄
Senegalese Phelps 🇸🇳 🏊🏽♂️ pic.twitter.com/BjiwnF21ZB
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) August 31, 2020
Tacko Fall: ‘I Was a Little Bit Scared to Drown’
Fall, of course, has been a sensation around Boston since he earned a spot with the Celtics in the Summer League more than a year ago. A four-year star at Central Florida, Fall surprisingly went undrafted last June but was picked up by the Celtics. After watching him in Las Vegas, Boston decided to keep him around, eventually inking him to the two-way deal.
He made seven appearances in a Celtics uniform and averaged 3.3 points in 4.7 minutes. He made 11 shots in the season, six of which were dunks. Fans at the TD Garden would routinely chant for Fall to enter the game during blowouts.
In Maine, Fall showed more of his potential. He averaged 12.9 points and 11.3 rebounds in 23.3 minutes, with 3.1 blocked shots per game. He frequently played in front of packed houses at the Portland Expo Building.
Fall made a splash (pardon the pun) at the Charlestown Boys & Girls Club last fall when he began taking swimming lessons with kids there. In an NPR story about those lessons, Fall said that even though the water was only about six feet deep, he was a bit terrified.
“I did not want to let go of the side of the — I was a little bit scared to drown,” he told Boston’s NPR station.
Jayson Tatum: ‘Tacko Is the GOAT’
Fall also had some fun with teammate Jayson Tatum, who overcame a poor start in Game 1 to score 21 points on 9-for-18 shooting. Tatum also had 9 rebounds and made 2 of the 5 3-pointers he took. While Fall and Tatum were leaning into each other during practice on Monday, Fall reached down and scooped up Tatum, hoisting him over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes as Tatum laughed.
— NBA on Campus (@nbaoncampus) August 31, 2020
Earlier in the year, Tatum was asked about the impact of Fall’s lighthearted personality on the Celtis in general, even if he does not get onto the floor much. Tatum recalled the ovation Fall got in one of the most hostile of NBA arenas when it comes to Celtics players—Madison Square Garden.
“Tacko got a standing ovation at [Madison Square] Garden,” Tatum said, according to NBC Sports Boston. “Tacko is the GOAT.”