Celtics

Celtics-Bulls matchup a possible playoff preview

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Celtics-Bulls matchup a possible playoff preview

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

There is no escaping the hype surrounding Thursdays match up between the Boston Celtics and Chicago Bulls.

The Celtics are calling it another regular-season game -- thats what it is, after all -- but there is hardly anything regular about this duel. Not with five games to go before the playoffs.

The Celtics (54-23) head into Chicago three games behind the Bulls (57-20) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls have won four in a row and are 8-2 over their last 10 games. The Celtics, meanwhile, are 6-4 during that stretch and are looking to finish out the season strong.

They made a statement on Tuesday by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, a possible first-round opponent, by 17 points. Whoever wins Thursdays game will make a statement in a potential Eastern Conference Finals matchup.

The Celtics currently hold a 2-1 lead on the regular-season series, winning their first two games at the TD Garden by an average of 8.5 points. But, facing the Bulls on the road on the tail end of a back-to-back without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics lost their most recent match up by 11.

Since the January 8 loss, the Celtics have gone 26-15 while the Bulls have been 33-8.

Its going to be tough, but weve just got to go out there and play our game, said Jeff Green. We know theyre going to come out. Its going to be like Game One of a playoff series, trying to get to the Finals. Thats how its going to be. Weve just got to come out and make sure were focused on the defensive end and make sure were ready to play.

Two players who will undoubtedly will ready for this game are point guards Rajon Rondo and Derrick Rose. Rose has scored twice as many points as Rondo (24.7 to 11.7), while Rondo has doubled Rose in assists (12.7 to 6.3). They are nearly identical in rebounds, but Rose has attempted 26 free throws while Rondo has taken just two.

Im always ready for a match up like that, said Rondo. This year has been tough as far as the point guard position. Every night its another point guard . . . Youve got Derrick Rose, John Wall, each night you have to bring it at the point guard position. Theres no nights off.

The Celtics will focus on the Bulls first without thinking ahead to their games against the Washington Wizards on Friday and Miami Heat on Sunday. With only three games separating them from home court advantage in the East, they are approaching the remainder of the season one night at a time.

We want all these games, said Kevin Garnett. All these games are important to us right now. Not just against the Chicagos and the Miamis. The Washingtons, the Phillys, these are huge games for us.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics streak comes to an end

0:41 - Tom Giles, Kayce Smith, and DJ Bean discuss the Celtics 16-game winning streak being snapped by the Miami Heat.

6:05 - Tom Curran and Mike Giardi talk about Tom Brady missing practice due to an Achilles injury and Randy Moss’ chances to make the Hall of Fame.

11:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the mental and physical fatigue that the streak had on the Celtics and if there is a sense of relief that the streak is over.  

16:11 - With it being the 5th anniversary of the Butt Fumble, we compare it to other embarrassing sports moments in history. 

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

Little things prove costly for Celtics as streak comes to an end

When you reflect upon Boston’s 16-game winning streak which came to an end with Miami’s 104-98 win on Wednesday, there were moments in just about every game that played a major factor in their success.

So it was only fitting that in the Miami loss, it would be a whole lot of little things that ultimately brought the fourth-longest winning streak in franchise history to a screeching halt.

  • Al Horford missed a pair of free throws.
  • Marcus Smart split a pair that had he made both, would have tied the game up in the fourth quarter.
  • Jayson Tatum had his only turnover of the game, in the fourth.
  • Terry Rozier had a rebound that he could not corral and bounced off his hands out of bounds.

And that doesn’t even factor in the missed open shots and unforced turnovers that collectively played a major role in Boston’s winning streak being a thing of the past now.

“I turned it over, we missed some free throws . . . we had some unfortunate things happen,” Tatum told reporters following the loss.

MORE:

Even with the loss, the Celtics (16-3) still boast the best record in the NBA.

Kyrie Irving has elevated his all-around play to a level to where he’s legitimately in the conversation as a league MVP candidate.

Jayson Tatum has established himself as one of the league’s top rookies from his draft class.

“As you could see, they kept hitting us, hitting us, until we were knocked out,” Irving said. “They deserved that win tonight.”

Disappointed with the loss, but it was not at all surprising to head coach Brad Stevens who has been raising concerns about his team’s attention to detail for the past few games and sensed it would catch up to them sooner or later.

“I told you, we’re not as good as the 16-game win streak,” Stevens said. “But we do have a lot of resolve. I can’t say enough about our guy’s will to come back. It’s incredible we were able to erase that lead that quickly and give ourselves a chance.”

Indeed, the Celtics rallied from a double-digit deficit to come within a single point in the fourth quarter. But unlike previous games, Boston couldn’t find a path to victory.

“We’re just going to continue to learn and continue to get better,” Irving said. “It’s the same things echoed when we were winning. Just continue to get better and understand, there’s still a lot for us to accomplish going forward.

He added, “It was a good streak, and it’s finally come to an end.”

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