Celtics

Rondo can't get self, Celtics going in Game 6

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Rondo can't get self, Celtics going in Game 6

PHILADELPHIA No matter how Rajon Rondo tried, he just could not find a hot hand (a luke warm one would have sufficed) to get the ball to for the Boston Celtics.

So when he tried to score on his own - and failed to do so repeatedly - it became clear that he too was in no flow or rhythm offensively.

And there lies the push-and-pull that Rondo - on most nights at least - seems to master.

But Game 6 wasn't Rondo's night - or the Celtics' night for that matter - as the C's drop a 82-75 Game 6 loss.

With Philadelphia's win, the Celtics and the Sixers will face off at the TD Garden on Saturday with the winner advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

And Rondo's final line on Wednesday - nine points, six assists and nine rebounds - was the kind you expect to see from in at the half.

"I don't know" was C's coach Doc Rivers' response when asked about Rondo's very un-Rondo-like game.

"He wanted to play well," Rivers added. "He attacked early and missed some shots. He probably got caught in between himself because he saw the offense wasn't working."

Boston shot 33 percent from the field and turned the ball over 17 times (for 19 points).

You want to know what a recipe for defeat looks like?

Shooting that poorly and turning the ball over that many times, is a start.

And when you consider so much of Rondo's game is dependent on others making shots, it's not all that surprising that the Celtics All-Star's numbers weren't nearly as impressive as they usually are.

"We had a lot of empty possessions," Rivers said.

And while Rondo isn't responsible for all that is wrong with the Celtics offense, his play - maybe as much as anyone on the roster - can impact the game significantly.

While Boston had its problems getting stops down the stretch, they still held the Sixers to just 82 points and even won the battle on the boards, 48-37.

There was certainly room for the defense to have been better, but the C's biggest issue on Wednesday was their offense - or lack of it.

And right or wrong, that responsibility ultimately falls under the duties of Rondo who has been arguably the most consistent player in this series.

Boston was within striking distance most of the night, but you never got the feeling that they were in total control.

Part of that had to do with Rondo, who normally makes a major impact on the game.

That wasn't the case on Wednesday as the Sixers seemed to have finally found a way to cool off the one player they seemingly never had an answer for until Wednesday.

Rivers thinks Rondo's biggest problem was simply trying to find that balance between getting his teammates going offensively, and looking for his own points.

"I thought he was trying to orchestrate the offense and try to go, and he probably got caught in the middle tonight," Rivers said. "It happens, but he'll be better."

He has to be if the Celtics want to win Game 7 and with it, advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

"Win or go home. Confidence is very high," said Boston's Kevin Garnett. "We've been here before; very experienced. All out. Nothing less."

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

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A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).
 

Celtics-Magic preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

Celtics-Magic preview: Time for Streak 2.0?

BOSTON – The last time the Celtics were coming off a loss, they bounced back and won their next 16 games.
 
Could tonight trigger winning streak 2.0?

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If so, Boston’s defense will once again lead the way because the Orlando Magic (8-6) have been one of the better offensive teams in the NBA this season.
 
They come into tonight’s game shooting 46.7 percent from the field, which ranks seventh in the NBA. They also average 11.6 made three-pointers per game, which ranks fourth in the league.
 
One of the keys to Orlando’s offense is to play with a pace (103.16) that ranks among the league’s best.

Still, the Celtics have seen their share of elite offenses this season and more often than not, they have been up to the challenge.
 
For Boston, their defensive success begins with a starting unit that has been among the best in the league most of this season.
 
Boston has utilized a number of different starting lineups, but the one that has logged the most minutes (79) together – Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes – has a defensive rating of 85.8, which is tops in the league among all five-man lineups which have logged as many or more minutes than Boston’s five-man group.
 
But as well as the Celtics played defensively as the wins piled up, there were clear and undeniable signs that a game such as Wednesday night's 104-98 loss at Miami was on the horizon.
 
Of the 16 wins, the Celtics were down by double digits in each of the past three victories and five overall in the streak.
 
But getting behind consistently and finding a way to rally spoke volumes about this team’s ability to handle adversity.
 
“Obviously winning is good,” said rookie Jayson Tatum. “Just the fashion that we did it in and the adversity that we had to overcome. It brought us closer together and made us a tougher team.”
 
But it seemed self-inflicted adversity by way of slow starts, which was starting to become part of the narrative to this Celtics team.
 
The past three wins - games in which the Celtics trailed by 13 at Dallas, 16 at Atlanta and 17 at home against Golden State - collectively they were a clear indicator that Boston still had room to improve despite finding ways to win.
 
 “We have to get better, we have to get better at what we’re trying to do,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “It’s a little bit, looking at the 16 straight [wins], as I said, it was a little bit of a mirage. We know we have to get better.”
 

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