Celtics

Celtics beat Heat in double overtime without Rondo, 100-98

989755.jpg

Celtics beat Heat in double overtime without Rondo, 100-98

BOSTON With so many story lines colliding when the Celtics and Heat meet, it was the guy that didn't play -- Rajon Rondo -- that had the NBA world abuzz Sunday.

Prior to the completion of Boston's 100-98 double overtime win over the Miami Heat, the Celtics discovered that Rondo would be lost for the season with a torn right ACL injury.

The news could not come at a worst time for the Celtics who avoided a seventh straight loss, which would have been the team's longest losing streak since they dropped 18 in a row during the 2006-2007 season.

Even with the win, Rondo's absence leaves a cavernous void in the Celtics lineup, one that hasn't been all that impressive even with him in the lineup.

The injury occurred during the fourth quarter of Boston's double overtime loss at Atlanta on Friday night.

Rondo was at the TD Garden prior to the game and went through shoot-around with the team.

Afterward, he was bothered by some pain in the knee and it was determined to be too painful for him to play against the Heat.

He was then sent to New England Baptist Hospital for further testing, which is when they discovered the torn ACL injury.

Without Rondo, the Celtics still had a game to play against a Heat team that came into the day with the best record in the Eastern Conference and a roster that now includes former Celtics sharpshooter Ray Allen.

The C's did a video tribute prior to Allen checking in to what was his first game at the TD Garden since he joined the Heat this offseason.

Allen had a solid game off the bench for Miami, tallying 21 points to go with 5 rebounds.

But the Celtics got a solid game from their reserves as well, namely Jeff Green.

In addition to doing a decent job defending LeBron James, Green also had a number of big plays offensively which included a dunk over Chris Bosh in the fourth quarter that put the C's ahead, 75-72.

But no play was bigger than him forcing a James miss late in the second overtime. Paul Pierce grabbed the rebound and was fouled. Pierce made one of the two free throws for the game's final point.

Miami's last shot at the win came on a desperation heave from Shane Battier as time expired.

It was a night in which Celtics Nation was rocking even as one of its best players could do nothing but watch from the nearby players tunnel, surrounded by security officials, knowing he would not be able to do anything other than cheer on his teammates for the rest of the season.

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

MORE:

Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

MORE:

And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE