Celtics

Celtics look to break a bad streak by the Bay

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Celtics look to break a bad streak by the Bay

By Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

SAN FRANCISCO The Celtics kick off the second half of their season Tuesday night in Golden State, but before you even think about looking past the 26-29 Warriors, here are a few names to consider:

Vin Baker. Jiri Welsch. Mike James. Mark Blount. Jumaine Jones. Marcus Banks.

Why are we mentioning these incompetent (OK, Mike James wasnt that bad) ghosts of Boston past? Well, because all six of those fine gentlemen were wearing the Green and White the last time the Celtics won a game in Golden State.

Thats right. Its been that long. The date was December 29, 2003, and since then the Cs have lost six straight games in Oracle Arena, including all three in the Big Three era.

As to why . . .

Its a great building, number one, said Doc Rivers as the team resumed practice Monday night in San Francisco. They havent been to the playoffs consistently and yet the fans are there every night. The place has unbelievable energy. I love the energy. I just dont like the results lately.

"The matchups they create with all the smalls they put on the floor is tough. And all the smalls can create their own shots. Its not like theyre standing there being shooters. They can all handle the ball. They can all shoot the ball. They create problems.

This years Warriors have created plenty of problems of late. They won seven of their last nine games before the All-Star Break, and six of those came against teams that would currently make the playoffs. The aforementioned smalls leading the way are Monta Ellis, whos the leagues fifth leading scorer at 25.3 a game; second-year sharp shooter Stephon Curry, who's scoring 18.4 and dishing out six assists a night, and swing man Dorell Wright, who joined Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in this weekends three-point contest and is averaging a career best 16.5. In all, the run-and-gun Warriors are the leagues seventh highest scoring team at 102.9 a game.

But despite all the potential issues Golden State presents, Rivers says that the Celtics biggest enemy might be themselves.

Getting back on defense will be key, he said, but our main concern is us. Coming off the break you have to get everybody right, while playing a team thats very good offensively. So, that makes it tough.

But while the Warriors are most known for their offensive firepower, they also have one of the leagues best and most active rebounders in their front court. David Lee, who was acquired from the Knicks this past offseason, is averaging 15.9 points and 9.4 rebounds a game this season, and a career double-double (1410) against the Cs.

Hes a great player, said Kendrick Perkins, wholl be one of the men responsible for keeping Lee contained. He brings a lot to that team. Hes the reason they have however many wins they have. David Lees averaged double-doubles in this league, but were a defensive team so thats how were going to beat them.

Easier said than done for a team that now only has one player remaining from the last time they won a game in Golden State.

I cant even remember the last time, said Pierce.

OK, anyone have Jiri Welschs number?

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

Young Celtics playing high-level defense without fouling a lot

When you’re an NBA rookie or early on in your career, there’s so much to learn, especially when it comes to playing defense.
 
Despite having at least two players with a year or less experience in the starting lineup and at least three or four other rookies who see regular action, Boston’s top-ranked defense has been able to do the seemingly impossible – defend without fouling a lot.
 
Boston comes into tonight’s game against Atlanta averaging 19.8 fouls committed per game which is the ninth-lowest total in the league.

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Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has some ideas as to how the team has been able to defend without fouling a ton.

“Our length, being able to communicate on the fly, having a system that’s predicated on shrinking the floor, just being very active,” Irving said. “Obviously, we’re going to foul. But the times we don’t foul, we limit teams to some tough shots, some tough two’s or some tough contested threes; I feel we put ourselves in great position. And then when you have guards down there rebounding as well as bigs down there boxing out and staying active it makes all our jobs easier, all five connected out there. We understand the importance of valuing each possession.”
 
The qualities that Irving talks about make sense when you’re talking about the qualities of an elite team defensively.
 
But for the Celtics to have so much youth tossed into such prominent roles, it is unusual to see everything seemingly come together so quickly.
 
“They utilize their length appropriately,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “They’re both long for their positions; that helps. So, you’re not playing Jaylen at the 3 (small forward) as much, and Jayson (Tatum) at the four (power forward) as much. You’re playing them at the two (shooting guard) and three (small forward) a lot. So, they can use that length rather than try and have to battle.”

Irving points out there’s added incentive to play at a high level defensively without fouling.

“If you don’t, you’ll be on the bench,” Irving said. “Brad has made that very clear. If the effort isn’t being put out there, and you’re not paying attention and you’re not preparing the way all of us should be preparing, that goes from the head coach all the way down to the 15th guy, if you’re not preparing the way you should and not perfecting your craft outside the game and that’s being very diligent, understanding what we’re trying to do in strategy, understanding our system, why it works, and why we’re doing it, then why the hell would you expect to play? So, he made it very simple. All the guys understand that. We’re a young team, but what we’re trying to accomplish will take a lot of energy and effort and focus. They understand that at a very young point in the season.”

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

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Stevens: Celtics haven't played well enough to make streak 'valid'

You know who else - besides Charles Barkley - isn't impressed by the Celtics' 14-game winning streak?

Their coach. 

MORE CELTICS:

At the shootaround in Atlanta before the Celtics attempt to make it 15 in a row tonight against the Hawks, Brad Stevens told reporters, including ESPN's Chris Forsberg, that his team hasn't played well enough to make the streak "valid." 

“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid in my opinion,” Stevens said."We’ve figured out ways to win games. We gotta play a lot better.”

The Celtics have come back from double-digit deficits a number of times in the streak. Stevens said they're fortunate those rallies have kept the streak going.  

"We've got to be better, and we know that," Stevens said. "We can't get so caught up in the results of all these games and ride that emotion. We've been fortunate to win a lot of the games in this streak, including Thursday night [92-88 over the defending champion Golden State Warriors]. If we dig ourselves a 17-point hole every other game, it's not going to be as much fun as we've had recently."