Celtics-Spurs preview: C's face tall task in San Antonio

Celtics-Spurs preview: C's face tall task in San Antonio

The Boston Celtics are still in search of that ever-elusive marquee victory to get their fan base charged up after what has been a so-so start to the season.

Beating San Antonio would certainly be an impressive, eyebrow-raising victory for the Celtics.

However, success in San Antonio isn’t quite as rare a feat as we’ve seen in past seasons.

The calendar hasn’t even flipped to the new year yet, and the Spurs have already racked up an unusually high number of losses so soon.

San Antonio is 6-4 thus far at home, with loss number four coming on Nov. 29 against Orlando.

Last season’s team only lost one game at home all season.

In 2015, loss No. 4 at home came on Dec. 19.

The 2013-2014 season saw loss number four at the AT&T Center come about on Christmas Day.

In 2013, it was March 8 which was almost to the day (March 9, 2012) from the previous season when they suffered their fourth loss of the season at home.

As much as the Celtics may like to play in front of their own fans, there’s something about this road life that -- for this year at least -- brought out the best in them as a team.

They come into tonight’s game with more road wins (8) than any team in the Eastern Conference, with road wins in six of their last eight away from the TD Garden.

And those two losses were by a combined four points which speaks to just well Boston has played on an opponent’s home floor this season.

One of the keys to Boston’s solid play has been the contributions of rookie forward Jaylen Brown who seems to keep getting better with more playing time.

Brown has seen his playing time in the last five games increase to more than 19 minutes per game which is about a five-minute jump on what he has been averaging this season.

In the last five games, he has averaged 8.2 points while shooting 59.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent (4-for-7) from 3-point range.

 “I've been really encouraged by Jaylen's play in the last four games,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “You know, like anybody else his age there's going to be moments of good and bad but, you know, he comes to work every day; he's trying to get better and we've talked about it before … it’s important in this league to be able to defend, to be able to rebound, to be able to create an advantage on offense. We saw it when Jae (Crowder) was out. That's why Jaylen's continued improvement is critical.” 

But like most young players, there are certain things that Brown must continue working on and then become consistent in them.

“I've said from day one, become a good defender, learn where your spots are on offense, then you've got to keep the defense honest by making open shots and I think that, you know, ultimately, if you do those three things the game will come quicker,” Stevens said. “The deal is, at that age, and Terry (Rozier) is in that boat too in a lot of ways because it's his first year playing, you know, you try to slow the game down as much as possible. And they've done a good job. I mean, I feel really good about those guys and their improvement.”

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: How will Kyrie Irving's knee injury affect him going forward?

NBC Sports Boston illustration

CELTICS TALK PODCAST: How will Kyrie Irving's knee injury affect him going forward?

1:30 - How concerning is Kyrie Irving's injured knee? Kyle Draper, A. Sherrod Blakely, and Chris Mannix discuss how this will affect Kyrie for the rest of this season, if he will be ready for playoffs, and if it will linger into next year.

6:50 - What are the expectations for the Celtics if they are without Kyrie Irving? Is it worth it to push Kyrie to play if they can’t win the title this season?

9:05 - Celtics are playing more for the 2018-2019 season than they are for 2017-2018 as they could become serious title contenders with a healthy team and more development from young players.

11:50 - What will be the interest in Marcus Smart in the offseason? Is it more likely he leaves or stays in Boston?

15:30 - Raptors or Cavaliers are both dangerous teams in the Eastern Conference. Who is the favorite to come out of the East?

20:06 - How can dangerous could the 76ers be in the playoffs? Do they have a chance to win a playoff series?

24:19 - Brian Scalabrine sits down the Celtics head coach Brad Stevens to talk about NCAA March Madness and his love for Butler University. 



NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on his knee injury looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins' season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves, agreeing to deals woth LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung on Thursday. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom E. Curran discuss how despite all that, the Pats should still be in search of a left tackle.