BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep. Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.
I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors. Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.
"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.
Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.
“But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”
ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES
Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).
POPULARITY ON THE RISE
The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.
With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.