Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series


Fast starts not panning out in C's-Sixers series

WALTHAM You never want to spot any team points, especially in a playoff game.

But if you're the Boston Celtics and you just so happen to find yourself on the short end of a start-of-the-game run by Philadelphia, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.

Each of the first four games in this series began with the eventual loser on a 5-0 spurt or better.

If anything, it serves as yet another reminder that fast starts may not necessarily prove fruitful in achieving the only thing either team truly wants -- a victory.

"That's just what it is," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "A 9-0 lead in the first quarter, that's nothing; it really isn't. Having a bigger lead in the third quarter the way we had (in Game 4), is better. But the early lead you got a whole game to play still. When I'm watching games, people make so much, too much of a big deal about that stuff."

Such early deficits seem to provide the necessary focus for teams on the short end of it to re-group, recover and from there, surge ahead to eventually take control of the game.

It also speaks to how the Celtics, whether it's the first quarter or fourth, have shown a propensity to ease up when they jump out to a big lead.

"A little bit of it is human nature," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "When you go up like that, you become complacent. It's just human nature. I hate it for us, to be that way."

It's the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily creep up on you, either.

Allen recalled a couple of empty possessions in Game 4.

"We took the easiest shot available as opposed to working our offense," he said. "they went down, got call after call, got to the free throw line, scored without the clock moving. Now the momentum was on their side."

And so went the game. If Game 5 goes along with the pattern in the first four, the Celtics will get down early and rally back for the win.

"You can't depend on that being a pattern," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "We just have to be consistent at what we do; use our home crowd to our advantage. We lost our last game at home. We gotta play better at home this time around."

But if they get behind early, not to worry.

The C's have seen that before in this series.

And the ending -- a Celtics victory -- would make the early struggles more than worth it.

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


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. 


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."


Kyrie goes back to the mask tonight

Kyrie goes back to the mask tonight

The mask will be back tonight in Atlanta for Kyrie Irving.

The Celtics guard told reporters at the team's shootaround Saturday in preparation for Saturday night's game against the Hawks - where Boston will try and win its 15th in a row - that he'll grudgingly go back to wearing the clear plastic facemask he had been using to protect a facial fracture he suffered last week. 

Irving wore the mask against Brooklyn for a full game earlier in the week then ditched it in the second half of the victory over the Golden State Warriors on Thursday. He shot just 4-for-16 from the field (1-for-5 on 3's) against the Warriors and has made no secret of his disdain for wearing it.