Celtics

Celtics send message to Sixers with statement win

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Celtics send message to Sixers with statement win

PHILADELPHIA Throughout the season, NBA coaches and players alike scoff at the notion that there's such a thing as a statement game.

Well, Boston's 107-91 win over Philadelphia on Wednesday night?

That was a statement game.

Even Rajon Rondo said as much following the C's victory that gave them a 2-1 series lead, with Game 4 on Friday.

"I believed that we needed this game," Rondo said. "Our team responded well. We were al pretty focused today at shoot-around. We had two close games at home and we wanted to show these guys and send a message I think we did a pretty good job of that."

You think?

Philadelphia head coach Doug Collins could see early on that the Celtics, more than anything else, simply wanted Game 3 more than his team.

"We ran into a Celtic team that had a real sense of purpose about them," Collins said. "I just thought this was a team that you could see coming in, did not want to be down 2-1 playing Game 4. You could just see they came in and they had been in a lot of these kind of games that they know how important the swing game is to get that home court back, and they played great."

The genesis of Wednesday's pummeling by Boston began well before the C's arrived at the Wells Fargo Center.

There was plenty of disappointment all around following the Game 2 loss, but once again it was the words of Kevin Garnett that seemed to resonate with his teammates.

"After the game, I just came in and said we're not going to beat anybody - and that includes jayvee teams and high school teams - if we don't play together. We worked so hard to get to where we at, to get there together," Garnett recalled. "Ubuntu; we've been preaching that since I been here. I had to just remind the guys, including the younger guys and the new guys, of how we succeed here. And the creed, Celtic basketball and what we are here."

It worked, as the C's put together their most collective win of this series and potentially, of the playoffs.

Now comes the fun part - doing it again.

Boston has home court advantage back with Wednesday's win. But a victory on Friday would put the Sixers about as far back on their heels as you can be, setting the C's up to need just one more victory to move on to the next round of the playoffs.

"It has to be a supreme effort from a defensive standpoint," Garnett said. "When you beat a team like this at home, you have to expect them coming out with a lot of energy. But we'll be ready and we'll be having a lot of energy ourselves."

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

Blakely's takeaways: C's put entire league on notice

BOSTON – You had to figure Golden State’s explosive offense would probably come up a little short scoring-wise against the Boston Celtics and their top-rated defense. 

But for them to score 88 points – that’s about 32 below their average – was very one of those, “where the hell did that come from?” moments. 

And it was exactly what the Celtics needed to escape with a 92-88 win that extended their winning streak to 14 in a row but maybe most important, put the entire league on notice that this streak they’re on right now … it’s real. 

“They wrote us off coming in, saying Golden State was gonna beat us, and do this and do that,” said Boston’s Jaylen Brown. “We came out and played basketball. Even though we got down, the make-up of our team is staying in; we’re resilient.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s signature win of the season, 92-88 over Golden State which extended Boston’s winning streak to 14 straight. 

 

BROWN’S GROWTH

Jaylen Brown was playing with a heavy heart less than 24 hours after the death of his best friend. But as we’ve seen in this still-young season, Brown is very much one of the league’s emerging talents. He certainly played that role on Thursday in leading Boston with 22 points with seven rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.  

 

TALE OF TWO HALVES FOR TATUM

There’s something about the second half of games against elite players that brings out the best in Jayson Tatum. When Boston opened the season at Cleveland, Tatum was noticeably better in the second half than the first. And in Thursday’s win over Golden State, it was more of the same. In the first half he had just two points only to finish with a 10-point second half (7 coming in the fourth) for a 12-point game on 2-for-5 shooting. 

 

AL HORFORD

As well as he’s played, a strong case can be made for Horford being a league MVP instead of their leading scorer, Kyrie Irving. Horford tallied a double-double of 18 points and 11 rebounds to go with a pair of assists. Horford now has six double-doubles this season which equals his double-double total from all of last season. 

 

MARCUS SMART

As much as you know Smart makes great effort plays consistently and does indeed make a difference when he’s on the court, his shooting woes are reaching critical mass even as Boston continues to gobble up wins. In the last five games, Smart has averaged 7.6 points. That’s not too bad, right? But then you look and see that he’s shooting 19.2 percent (10-for-52) in that span. Ouch! So far, the Celtics have been able to find success despite his shooting struggles. But you have to anticipate at some point it’ll catch up with them. 

 

SHORTENED ROTATION

For most of this season, pretty much everyone who suits up for the Celtics, have played. But against the Warriors, it had the feel of a playoff-like rotation with head coach Brad Stevens playing 10 guys with nine reaching double digits in minutes played. Considering how the second unit struggled to make shots (they missed 17 of their 19 shot attempts), it’s understandable why head coach Brad Stevens leaned a little heavier than usual on his second unit.