Celtics

Hawks still see Celts as team to beat in East

Hawks still see Celts as team to beat in East

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

ATLANTA The Chicago Bulls have the best record in the Eastern Conference. The Miami Heat have had the most hype.

In between them, literally and figuratively, is the Boston Celtics.

While the C's may not be the sexiest pick to come out of the East this season, Atlanta Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson still view the Celtics as the team to beat.

"I know when playoffs come, they're going to be hitting on all cylinders," Johnson told CSNNE.com.

Even with the Celtics struggling of late, Johnson said regular-season struggles don't really impact a team like the Celtics.

"They've been there before," he said. "They understand what it takes to win, take their game up two or three notches. You have to respect that."

Hawks forward Josh Smith certainly does.

"They're the team until somebody proves them wrong," Smith said. "They've been the team for these past couple of years."

And while Smith is quick to recognize the success that Chicago and Miami have had this season, "those teams . . . are hot teams that people are talking about right now. What they have to understand is, this is a veteran ballclub and they've been in these situations. Like everybody says, the regular season doesn't matter. It's what you do in the postseason. They have three Hall of Fame players, and they've already figured out how to get it done with each other. The Miami situation is still up in the air, how they're going ot make it work in the postseason. This team, they already understand. They know."

Celtics center Nenad Krstic was with the team, but didn't play against the Hawks and won't play Sunday against the Pistons after suffering a right knee injury in the second quarter of Boston's 107-97 win at San Antonio on Thursday.

Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, told CSNNE.com that Krstic will have an MRI performed on the knee Saturday afternoon.

Without Krstic, the Celtics once again find themselves short-handed at the center position.

Jermaine O'Neal, who returned to action against the Spurs after being out with a left knee injury since late-January, will continue to come off the bench while the C's move Glen Davis into the starting lineup.
A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Too much rest for the weary?

Too much rest for the weary?

BOSTON -- You won’t find any of the Celtics griping about having more days off this month than they've had all season.
 
But is there such a thing as too much rest?
 
It certainly looked that way Tuesday during Boston’s 116-113 overtime loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, which was Boston’s first game after having played once in the previous 10 days.
 
When asked about the long layoff being a factor, Al Horford said he wasn’t sure what, if any, impact that had on the game’s outcome.

“I thought we were just sloppy on the offensive end and couldn’t capitalize on a lot of opportunities and transitions and I think that hurt us,” Horford said.
 
Just as surprising was how the game, on so many levels, looked identical to previous games in which the Celtics trailed by double digits only to rally in the second half for the win.
 
“We can’t come back every game,” said Kyrie Irving. “It’s as simple as that. Sometimes another team is going to hold the lead and they’re going to play well.”
 
Here are five other takeaways from the loss,  which snapped Boston’s seven game winning streak.  

CELTICS DEFENSE

A strength all season, there were just too many breakdowns for Boston to emerge victorious. At no point did it feel like the NBA’s top-rated defense put its imprint on the game. And on nightswhen that happens -- which have been few and far between this season -- success for the Celtics is extremely hard to come by.

JAYSON TATUM

This was one of the more bizarre games we’ve seen from Tatum this season. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting, but he never had one of those Tatum-like stretches of domination. While some may wonder if the 19-year-old is finally hitting that rookie wall, you have to remember this isn’t his first subpar game of the season. To his credit, he has bounced back quite well on the heels of rough outings. Don’t expect that to change now.

DANIEL THEIS

One of the reasons for Tatum playing less than 30 minutes (it was the second straight game he played less than 30 after logging 30-plus in his previous nine), was the play of Theis. He provided some much-needed energy for a Celtics team that looked and played somewhat lethargic for long stretches most of the night. He had seven points, which included a huge 3-pointer in the second half with the shot clock winding down, in addition to playing solid defense that factored into DeMarcus Cousins shooting just 7-for-20 from the field.

ANTHONY DAVIS

Celtics Nation’s bromance with The Brow will only intensify after he dropped 45 points on the Celtics last night, to go with 16 rebounds. What really made his performance stand out beyond it being the most points scored by a Celtics opponent this season, was the ease in which he got them. It really felt like Boston put up little to no resistance  most of the game. He shot jumpers with great confidence. He finished around the rim. Davis did anything and everything he wanted, all game. It was the kind of performance that Celtics fans would love to see at the TD Garden more often . . . in a Celtics uni, of course.

3-POINTERS

We know the 3-point shot is a weapon of choice for Boston. But launching a season-high 50 last night was not part of the plan. More than anything else, it was a function of the Pelicans playing arguably their best defensive game of the season. They kept Boston’s guards in front of them most of the night. And by not allowing much dribble penetration, it made life easier of sorts for their interior defenders. When there was penetration on Boston’s part, far too often Davis or Cousins would alter the shot attempt or help create a turnover. That often led to Boston having little choice but to take a 3-pointer, many of which were contested. It’s an important part of the Celtics offense, obviously. But when the number of 2-pointers (51) is basically the same as the number of 3s taken, the result will usually be a Celtics loss.
 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

 

BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

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BEST OF BST PODCAST: Pelicans snap Celtics 7-game win streak

0:41 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to break down the Celtics loss to the Pelicans in overtime, which snapped Boston's 7-game winning streak, and talks about the dysfunction with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

4:24 - Michael Holley, Tom Curran, Phil Perry, and Tom Giles discuss Gregg Doyel's article where he expressed concern over the expected hiring of Josh McDaniels by the Colts because of his tenure in Denver.

10:13 - Celtics legend Jo Jo White passed away at the age of 71. Michael Holley and Tom Curran talk about the impact he had on the franchise.

13:49 - Phil Perry gives us his report card for each position from the Patriots win over the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.