Beyond the numbers: 'Resilient' Celtics 'keep fighting and fighting'

Beyond the numbers: 'Resilient' Celtics 'keep fighting and fighting'

The Boston Celtics and their plug-and-play lineups have played their way into having the fifth-best record in the NBA.

Several factors have contributed to the Green Team’s success, but few stand out like their success on the road which is a trend they hope to continue tonight at Dallas.

Boston comes into tonight’s game, the finale in their four-game West coast trip, having won 16 road games this season which is tops among all teams in the Eastern Conference.

“This group is resilient,” said Celtics veteran Gerald Green. “A lot of times, we just don’t give up.  A lot of times we ease up but we don’t give up. We just keep fighting and fighting.”

That character trait will serve them well tonight against a Mavericks team that just a few weeks ago was left for dead as a lottery-bound loser.

But in the past five weeks, they have won 11 games which is equal to their win total in the first 10 weeks of the NBA.

And while 22-32 isn’t a great record, it is good enough in the West this season to be a playoff contender with Dallas trailing Denver (24-30) for the eighth and final playoff spot out West by two games.

Here are five other factors that have contributed to the Celtics’ recent run of success.



Boston’s offense ranks among the league’s best, and a lot of that has to do with how well they execute in the second half of games this season. Boston has a league-best offensive rating of 114.0 this season, with Golden State (113.4) and Toronto (110.8).



It has been well documented that the Celtics have been a horrible rebounding team this season. But their recent run of success has been led in part by them doing a better job of holding their own on the glass. In the last 10 games, the Celtics have a .505 rebounding percentage which ranks 11th in the NBA during that span.



Boston’s ball-handling has been a strength all season. They come into tonight’s game ranked second in the NBA in assists percentage (.644), assists-to-turnover ratio (1.98) and are third in assists (25.3) per game.



Boston has made at least 10 3-pointers in 12 straight games which is a franchise record. It also stands as the seventh-longest streak in league history. And if Boston’s 12.1 made 3’s per game average stands, it would rank fifth all-time.



Without question, one of the major keys to Boston’s success stems from Isaiah Thomas’ fourth quarter scoring. He currently leads the NBA in fourth quarter points per game (10.7) and ranks second in the league in scoring (29.8) to Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (31.2).

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

Irving's procedure means Celtics may add player via 'hardship roster exception'

With Kyrie Irving undergoing a “minimally invasive procedure” on Saturday, the Boston Celtics may look to add a player via the “hardship roster exception” that only teams that are significantly impacted by injuries, are eligible for. 

MORE - Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

The Celtics won’t have a clear sense of what the timetable will be for Irving’s return until after his procedure is performed. 

But it’s likely to be at least a couple weeks which at the earliest would put Irving’s return just before the playoffs. 

In order to qualify for the NBA’s hardship roster exception, at least four players must miss a minimum of three consecutive games, and later be deemed to be out for an additional two weeks. 

Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) and Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee) are out for the season, and Marcus Smart (right thumb) recently underwent surgery that will keep him sidelined for at least another five weeks. 

An independent doctor will determine if the extent of the aforementioned injuries as well as the recovery time for Irving, meet the two-week criteria to be eligible for the hardship roster exception. 

Once that’s determined, Boston will be given a hardship roster exception to use on a player for the remainder of the regular season but won’t be eligible for the postseason. 

If Boston does add a player, look for him to come from the Gatorade League, possibly their G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. 

Boston has a collection of guards who have helped fill the void left by Irving’s absence, but Boston has not been able to address the loss of Daniel Theis. 

Keep an eye on former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 16.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists for the Red Claws this season. 

MORE - Hayward gives update on rehab

Boston has a 45-day cap on the use of its two-way players with the parent team, but that limitation ends tomorrow which means guard/forward Jabari Bird and guard Kadeem Allen can earn the league minimum for every day they are with the Celtics going forward in the regular season. That can provide some depth to a Celtics team that because of injuries, can use every healthy body they can find.


Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Doctor: Irving could return in 'three to four weeks'

Kyrie Irving could be back on the court in time for the Celtics to begin the playoffs.

Or not.

Irving will have what the Celts are describing as a "minimally invasive procedure" on his injured left knee Saturday. NBC Sports Boston talked to Dr. Christopher Chihlas from Southcoast Health -- who has not examined Irving but is familiar with his type of injury -- about how long Irving may be sidelined.

"A minimally invasive procedure is basically an arthroscopy," said Dr. Chihlas. "His return to play is mostly dependent on what is done . . . If it's just a cleanout, as we're being told, then -- best-case scenario -- we could see him back playing in three to four weeks."

But, he added, "it could be double that . . . depending upon what exactly is found . . . 

"The key here is the patella fracture (which Irving suffered during the 2015 playoffs). My feeling is that he's suffering a bit of the consequence of the patella fracture, which is a fracture into the knee joint . . . [He] may need to have this done periodically to get him through the rest of his career."