By the numbers: Celtics taking it 'one game at a time’


By the numbers: Celtics taking it 'one game at a time’

With the All-Star break about a week out, it’s about as good a time as any to start giving some thought to what’s around the corner for the Boston Celtics.

They come into tonight’s game against the struggling Sacramento Kings (20-32) with an impressive 33-18 record which trails only Cleveland by 2.5 games in the East.

As well as they’ve played thus far this season, the potential to be even better going forward is clear.

Including tonight’s game against the Kings, Boston has 36-16 record (.692 winning percentage) against the remainder of its schedule.

By no means does this mean the Celtics will cakewalk their way into the playoffs.

More than anything else it speaks to how despite all the injuries that the Celtics have had (Al Horford and Avery Bradley who is still out, are the two that stand out) and various other setbacks, they have positioned themselves to finish with a top-3 record in the East with a stretch of foes that they have already had success against this season.

Of the teams Boston has already played more than once who remain on the schedule, only three – Toronto (2-1), Cleveland (2-0) and Washington (2-1) – have a winning record against the Celtics this season.

Along with Boston, those three teams comprise the top four teams in the Eastern Conference record-wise with the Cavs No. 1, followed by Boston, Toronto (32-21) and Washington (30-21).

But veterans such as Boston's Amir Johnson aren’t giving any thought to what’s around the corner.

Staying in the moment, he says, is what the Celtics have to do to continue on the path of success they have enjoyed thus far this season.

“You hear coaches and players say ‘take it one game at a time’ all the time,” Johnson told CSNNE.com recently. “But it’s true. That’s what we’ve been doing to be where we’re at, and that’s what we’re going to have to do going forward.”



Boston’s Fab 4

Boston’s top-4 players (Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Al Horford) are 16-5 when they play together this season. When one of them doesn’t play, the Celtics are 12-8. When two or more are missing in action, Boston’s record drops to 5-5.

Pourin’ on the points

The Celtics have scored at least 103 points in each of their last 25 games which is the longest streak in the NBA since Brad Stevens took over prior to the 2013-2014 season.

Smart shots

In the last seven games, Marcus Smart has shot 45.8 percent from 3-point range.

Line ‘em up

Boston is having an impressive season from the free throw line; like historically impressive. They are currently leading the NBA by shooting 81.8 percent from the free throw line this season. If they maintain that average, it would be the 10th-best free throw percentage in NBA history.

Consistent Crowder

Jae Crowder comes into tonight’s game scoring at least 11 points in 13 consecutive games, a first for the fifth-year veteran.

WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

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WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Pelicans in New Orleans. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30  p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

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Celtics-Pelicans preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

As the NBA trade deadline drew near, Celtics Nation was hoping tonight’s matchup between Boston and New Orleans would be Anthony Davis returning to where his pro career began.

He’s still with the Pelicans, doing what Davis has done for most of his career – dominate play.

But there’s a new twist now … he’s also winning. 

That’s why the 6-foot-10 Davis is no longer seen as a player that might be on the move anytime soon. 

He’s not just one of the league’s best players, but a bonafide MVP candidate whose stock as an elite player is even greater since New Orleans lost DeMarcus Cousins (ruptured Achilles tendon) for the season on Jan. 26. 

Since Cousins’ season-ending injury, New Orleans (39-30) has a 12-9 record with Davis averaging 31.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 3.2 blocks and 2.3 steals per game in that span. 

Davis is also averaging 7.8 free throws per game which ranks fourth in the NBA, although you wouldn’t know he was among the league leaders in that category based on the postgame rant by his coach Alvin Gentry following New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday night. 

“A.D. (Anthony Davis) never gets a call,” a visibly angry Gentry told reporters following the loss. “He never gets a call. We talk about them holding him. We talk about them grabbing him on rolls. We talk about them coming under him on post-ups. He never gets a call; not one. And you know why? Because he doesn’t (bleep) complain about it. He just keeps playing the game.”

Regardless of how often he gets to the line, Davis is still putting up MVP-caliber numbers this season in Cousins’ absence. 

But it’s not like Davis’ stat line this season overall – 28.0 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.5 steals – didn’t stand out for all the right reasons, either.

However, Davis’ shine isn’t quite as bright now with the Pelicans losing four of their last five games which has dropped New Orleans (39-30) down to the eighth and final playoff spot and just 1.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (37-31).

So, the Celtics come into town facing not only one of the better teams in the West, but a club that is absolutely starving for a win.

While Boston (47-22) certainly wants to come into the Big Easy and get a victory, its impact on the Celtics’ playoff hopes is non-existent. 

Boston has the second-best record in the East and trail Toronto (52-17) by five games with 13 remaining. They face the Raptors two more times this season, but even if they win both of those games and thus the head-to-head series, it likely won’t come into play because of Toronto likely finishing with the best record in the East. 

And behind Boston in the standings is Cleveland (40-29), another injury-riddled team that’s seven games behind the Celtics in the standing and has shown no signs of threatening to gain ground on Boston. 

So regardless of how the Celtics fare, it’s likely they will remain sandwiched between Toronto and Cleveland in terms of playoff seedings are concerned. 

And that might factor into who plays – and who doesn’t – for Boston in these final few games of the regular season. 

Boston’s Daniel Theis suffered a season-ending torn meniscus injury in his left knee, and Marcus Smart’s right thumb injury will keep him out for the rest of the regular season with the earliest he might be back being the latter stages of the first round of the playoffs, or sometime during the second round if the Celtics advance that far. 

Boston must also make sure Kyrie Irving and his sore left knee, are good to go for the playoffs. In addition, the Celtics must work Jaylen Brown back into the fold after he suffered a concussion that has kept him out of Boston’s last three games. 

Celtics coach Brad Stevens has made a point of not allowing himself or his players to use their injury situation as an excuse for not playing good basketball. 

But he knows good basketball for his injury-riddled roster, involves players elevating their play.

“We’re going to be in the process of really looking at ourselves and redistributing responsibility on our team without guys going outside of what they do best,” Stevens said, adding, “We’re going to have to figure out how to play our best basketball.”