Celtics

A loss befitting of their streak

53089.jpg

A loss befitting of their streak

By: Rich Levine
CSNNE.com

ORLANDO, Fla The Celtics lost an ugly one on Saturday.

They lost a game in which they never found a rhythm. They lost a game in which they showed flashes of brillianceglimpses of the team that you hope theyll be come springbut couldnt hold it together. They lost a game that, outside of a few signature moments, lacked any lasting significance. (After all, its not even January and theyre not completely healthy). They lost a game that, for a number of reasons beyond your or even their control, left you feeling unsatisfied.

In other words, they lost a game completely befitting of the win streak that preceded it.

That might look weirdcomparing a 14-game win streak to an ugly 86-78 loss, but honestly, when you look back, wasnt the Celtics streak just about as odd and unsatisfying as the teams Christmas Day defeat?

Dont get me wrong, it was fun while it lasted, but just as Saturdays loss wont change the way you feel about these Celtics, did the streak really change anything, either?

Did you feel any better about their chances to win a title on Christmas morning than you did on Thanksgiving morning? Did the fact that 14 straight games ended with the Celtics on top make you more confident that thats where theyll finish the season?

Sure, wins were better than losses. But the way those wins came never blew you away. From time to time, yes, there were games where the Cs flexed their muscles and showed you how great they can be. But just like Saturdays game, the streak was all over the place. They never really found a rhythm. Outside of KGs lay-up against Philly and Pierces game-winner at MSG, there was nothing that happened that will really stand the test of time; nothing that youll remember past this season. Nothing that happened was actually significant. After all, its not even January, and the Celtics werent completely healthy.

Even as recently as Wednesday night, Doc lamented how, despite all the wins, the Celtics werent improving. And as a result, neither were our expectations. It was the oddest feeling. The Celtics went a month without losing, but you couldnt feel any better about their chances. There were games when they played great; games when they just played well enough to win; games when they didnt even play well enough to win, but still managed to get the W.

But regardless of how it happened, most of the time, those wins just left us feeling neutral. When we spoke of the streak, it was never, Look out, NBA! The Celtics are on a rampage! It was How the hell do they keep winning all these games?

There was no rhyme or reason to how they were doing it. Sometimes the defense was great, but they also allowed more than 100 points in eight of 14. Sometimes the offense was clicking, but then it would disappear for long stretches. There were plenty of positives along the way. Of course, there were positives. And there certainly werent enough negatives to create any level of concern. But still, it was still strangely unsatisfying. You wanted to get feel better about it. But you just couldnt.

I guess thats just life with the 2010-2011 Celtics.

Basically, even though its only December, we already know what this team is capable of. We already have our expectations set in stone, and know that if theyre healthy, theres no reason why they cant get there. On top of that, we learned last year that what happens in the regular seasonespecially this earlyhas little to no effect on the end game. We wasted far too much time overreacting to the day-to-day grind of last season, and this time around, we wont fall for it. We know how good this team can be. And we wont let 14 wins or one loss change that. Nothing will.

And in the meantime, well follow intently and wait patiently for the playoffs to begin, becausewhether it's a gift or a cursewe now know that's all that matters.

Rich Levine's column runs each Monday, Wednesday and Friday on CSNNE.com. Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrlevine33

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

Celtics continue comeback narrative with win vs. Hawks

The Boston Celtics trail by double digits. The Celtics rally to make it relatively close by halftime. Boston continues to gain ground in the third, pull it out in the fourth.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat.

That has been the Celtics’ mantra this season, with the latest chapter in their comeback narrative being a 110-99 win at Atlanta.

“We need to put an emphasis on playing with space and getting the ball to the other side of the floor,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “It just stuck too much early on. We were staring at some post-ups that if we got it to the other side, maybe you could take advantage of.”

MORE:

Boston (15-2) fell behind by as many as 16 points against the Hawks (3-13), the second straight game the Celtics have rallied from a double-digit deficit.

In Boston’s 92-88 win over Golden State on Thursday, the Celtics fell behind by as many as 17 before rallying for their most impressive win of the season.

That said, it still shouldn’t take away from what happened on Saturday against an Atlanta team that despite their record, has shown signs of playing better in their recent games.

Players are aware of the penchant they’ve shown thus far for falling behind only to mount a furious comeback for the win.

“We don’t try to (go down early),” said Kyrie Irving following Saturday’s win which extended their winning streak to 15 straight which is the fifth-longest streak in franchise history. “Some teams, they go on runs and whether that be us giving up some easy ones or giving up some turnovers or doing things we can correct. When we do correct them, it turns into a different game.”

And that is what makes this stretch of play so impressive.

The Celtics have not played a full game; instead they have had stretches of good play that have often masked their mistakes early in the game.

That’s why head coach Brad Stevens, obviously pleased with the team’s success, knows as well as anyone that his team has to become more consistent in their play if they are to get the most out of these wins and continue to build off of them and achieve their ultimate goal – getting back to the NBA Finals.

“We’re going to keep playing,” Stevens said. “But the biggest thing is, we can’t keep digging these holes.”

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

Stars, studs and duds: No lack of confidence for Brown

When it comes to the top backcourts in the NBA, you seldom hear about Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.

That may soon be changing if they have more games like the one they delivered on Saturday as Boston put together a solid second half to pull away from the Atlanta Hawks, 110-99.

Irving had a game-high 30 points which was his second game with at least 30 points scored – both against Atlanta.

MORE:

And Brown, who had a strong 22-point performance in Boston’s win over Golden State on Thursday, was even better against the Hawks in tallying a career-high 27 points.

We all know about Irving who has established himself as one of the NBA’s top guards.

But is Brown on the way?

One thing Brown won’t have to develop going forward is, confidence.

He has long maintained that he believes he’ll be among the best in the league. It’s just a matter of him performing at a high level at both ends of the floor, consistently.

“I’ve always had that confidence, I can play with the best in the world,” Brown told NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin following the win over Atlanta which extended Boston’s winning streak to 15 in a row. “It’s just a matter of coming out, doing it. My teammates found me tonight. We had a good team win tonight.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 110-99 win at Atlanta which extended the Celtics’ winning streak to 15 in a row which is the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history.

 

STARS

Jaylen Brown

Back in his home state of Georgia, Jaylen Brown delivered another monster game for the Celtics by scoring a career-high 27 points on 10-for-13 shooting with four 3-pointers.

Kyrie Irving

Irving had his most efficient game this season for the Celtics, tallying 30 points on 10-for-12 shooting to go with four rebounds and five assists.

Dennis Schroder

Atlanta’s best scorer delivering a strong 23-point, 9-assist performance for the Hawks.

 

STUDS

Jayson Tatum

He only had 14 points, but they all came in the third quarter and they included a few crowd-quieting dunks.

John Collins

He came into the league with the reputation of being a high motor player, and he has not disappointed. His hustle and energy led to him tallying 18 points and seven rebounds.

Marcus Morris

When the offense struggled mightily in the first half, it was Morris’ scoring that kept them within striking distance. He finished with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second quarter.

Kent Bazemore

He was Atlanta’s number two scoring option most of the night, and finished with 19 points.

 

DUDS

Boston’s first quarter defense

The Celtics can’t keep digging themselves these early holes, expecting they will turn it on and find a way to climb out of them. The Hawks led 35-20, fueled in large part by shooting 64.7 percent (11-for-17) in addition to out-rebounding Boston 8-6.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE