Celtics

Celtics squash Kings, 99-81

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Celtics squash Kings, 99-81

BOSTON The night began with the Boston Celtics seeking answers to how they can move on without Rajon Rondo this season.
It ended with an emphatic 99-81 win over the Sacramento Kings which left Celtics Nation another question to mull over.
Are the Celtics (22-23) this good, or the Kings (17-30) that bad?
At this point in the season, it doesn't matter.
With the C's having already given away more games than they can afford, every win -- regardless of the opponent -- is a big one.
And this one was just that in every sense of the word even if the Celtics did what the Celtics seem to always do which is allow the game to get closer than it should be.
After spending a good chunk of the third quarter and early part of the fourth leading by 20 or more points, the Celtics saw their lead down to 82-67 following a pair of free throws by Sacramento's Tyreke Evans with 10:21 to play.
But the Celtics soon increased their lead to 20-plus points and never looked back.
Finishing strong by Boston was similar to how the C's began the game.
Boston opened with an 8-0 run only to allow the Kings to get back in the game and close out the first quarter with a 6-0 spurt of their own to lead, 24-22, going into the second.
That's when the C's went into takeover-mode, completely dominating Sacramento in every phase of play.
Boston wound up scoring a season-high 37 second-quarter points which gave them a decisive 59-38 lead at the half.
Such a dominate showing was nothing new to the C's who delivered a similar first-half pounding to the Atlanta Hawks recently only to give the lead away in the third quarter and ultimately lose in double overtime.
But the Kings and Hawks are nothing alike, as the Celtics proved in maintaining firm control of the game in the third quarter which ended with the C's ahead 80-60.
About the only thing that worked against the Celtics was Jared Sullinger having to leave the game in the first quarter with what team officials described as back spasms.
Sullinger, drafted by the C's with the No. 21 pick in last June's NBA draft, was projected as a top-10 pick but fell to the C's due to medical concerns that his back might shorten his playing career.
Wednesday's game was the first time this season that Sullinger's back forced him to the bench.

For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
 
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
 
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
 
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
 
 

TATUM’S SHOOTING

Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
 

TEMPER, TEMPER

The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”

ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES

Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).

POPULARITY ON THE RISE

The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.

JERRYD BAYLESS

With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

 

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Sweeping Sixers will depend on containing Joel Embiid

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE