It was Tacko Fall’s opportunity to shine.
No Tristan Thompson, no Grant Wiliams, or Robert Williams – three out of four of Brad Stevens’ favorite options at the center position. Due to the NBA’s health and safety protocols; all three will be required to quarantine for at least seven days.
In many ways, Tacko’s much-anticipated appearance may have stunted any high expectations, given he played only six minutes this season, prior to the Boston Celtics’ matchup against the Washington Wizards Friday night. But when Fall checked into the game for Daniel Theis, his block on All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook sparked a momentum-shift for the Celtics – one that triggered a 10-3 scoring run that, in the end, had Tacko’s fingerprints all over it.
Brad Stevens On Tacko Fall’s Performance Vs. Wizards: ‘In A Lot Of Ways, He Changed The Game’
He followed his block on Westbrook with an alley-oop from Jaylen Brown. Then, he blocked Wizards center Robin Lopez on one play, Davis Bertans on another, and helped keep Washington at bay as the Celtics cruised to a 116-107 win at TD Garden.
“I thought he was great tonight. In a lot of ways, he changed the game,” Stevens said Friday night when he was asked about Fall’s performance. “One of the things we’re missing without those guys here is some physicality and obviously rim protection. He provided both of those things in a big way. I couldn’t be happier for the guy. All he does is smile, he’s a great teammate, as good as I’ve been around and he works.”
Before the start of the season, the Celtics’ coaching staff raved over how much improvement they saw in Fall, however, because of Boston’s depth at the center position, none of it has materialized into meaningful playing time. But all of that changed Friday night.
Tacko finished with 8 rebounds, 4 points, and 3 blocks in 19 minutes. He also finished with a plus-13 game rating. Fall, the Celtics’ second-year center who spent the majority of his rookie campaign in Maine with the G League’s Red Claws, took full advantage of his opportunity and was ready to step in when his name was unexpectedly called Friday.
“I can see things that may be a year ago I couldn’t see,” Fall said after the win. “I can anticipate things that may be a year ago I couldn’t anticipate. It comes down to the work I’ve put in with the help of the coaches, especially coach Jay Larranaga. I’ve prayed, I’ve worked hard to be here.”
Tacko Fall On The Boston Celtics Organization: ‘It Means A Lot To Have People Who Believed In You From The First Day’
Tacko added that while his special night was a testament to his drive and hard work; the Celtics organization’s confidence has been an underlying driving force helping him along the way.
“It means a lot to have people who have believed in you from the first day that they met you,” Fall said. “The whole organization has. From my teammates to the coaches to the front office to the workers – they all believe in what I can do and how I can help. They stayed patient with me; that’s something I’m really thankful for. I’m a big believer that nothing happens out of coincidence; God put me here.
“He put me with the right people and they’ve constantly pushed me to become a better player. I’m really thankful for it.”