Celtics

Celtics. Practice. Two words we've rarely seen linked together

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Celtics. Practice. Two words we've rarely seen linked together

WALTHAM, Mass. – It would not have come as a shock if some of the Boston Celtics had to turn to their GPS device and punch in the practice facility’s address prior to today’s practice.

Boston was back on the practice floor Wednesday with more than a month having passed between today’s practice and the Celtics' last one here.

“Rare. It’s nice to be back out here,” said head coach Brad Stevens whose team hosts the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow night. “You’re balancing, you know, the opportunity to practice with what’s coming ahead. And also, the schedule that we’ve just been through. 

Stevens added, “I thought our attention was really good. I thought our purpose was good. I thought we could learn a lot for the Detroit film, so that was good. It was a positive day hopefully we can build on and move forward.”

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His players were also pleased with getting back in the gym for practice.

“I can’t remember the last time we practiced,” said Jaylen Brown. “So anytime we get in here, we have to cherish it, take advantage of it and try to make the most of all our practice time.”

And while Boston’s record may make one wonder just how much practice time they need, Stevens was consistent throughout the team’s 16-game winning streak that they were a work in progress and while piling up the victories, there were areas of play that he recognized could come back and hurt them at some point down the road.

Looking back on the film study from the 118-108 loss to Detroit on Monday, Stevens said there were plenty of lessons to have learned from the loss.

“That was a good team we were playing against, playing really good basketball,” Stevens said. “They were really purposeful on both ends. I actually thought we did a lot of good things. Even in watching it again, it was more a credit to Detroit than we didn’t play to the level or whatever the case may be.”

And while practices are often filled with lots of teaching, Kyrie Irving sees an even bigger benefit.

“Just quality time being with one another,” said Irving who moments earlier, was playing 1-on-1 against Jaylen Brown. “Rather than just showing up to the game. It’s time to get back, set in what your routine is as far as getting up extra shots. But the most important thing for me is dialing back in with the coaching staff. Paying attention to the minute details that we need going forward.”

When the Celtics look back on losses to Miami and Detroit, both were games where Boston’s ability to not take care of the little things such as getting to loose balls or how to quickly recognize certain actions being run, ultimately proved to be costly.

“This is our first season, and we’ve already been through a lot as a group,” Horford said. “Everything is a learning experience. Travel, on the road, getting in at 3 in the morning, make sure you try to go to bed as quick as you can, get your rest. It’s a learning curve.”

And many of those lessons begin with practice.

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Can Celtics plug recent defensive leaks vs. Pacers?

Can Celtics plug recent defensive leaks vs. Pacers?

While the Boston Celtics remain tops in the NBA in defensive efficiency with a rating of 100.7, there’s no escaping the reality that they have had some slippage lately which is why the Celtics are 3-3 in their last six games.

Plugging the team’s defensive leaks won’t get any easier tonight against an Indiana Pacers team that has been among the better offensive clubs in the league this season.

The Pacers come into tonight’s game averaging 108.2 points which ranks seventh in the NBA.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens attributes some of the Celtics’ struggles recently to a lack of consistent effort, a sentiment that’s shared among his players.

“We definitely need to play with better effort more consistently,” Boston’s Semi Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “There’s really no excuse for it. We know we have to better, going forward.”

Especially against a Pacers team that’s playing with a chip on its shoulder this season.

Predicted by many to be among the worst teams in the East after trading away Paul George in July for Victor Oladipo and Domantis Sabonis, Indiana (17-13) comes into tonight’s game in a tie for the fourth-best record in the East.

Boston beat the Pacers 108-98 earlier this season, but Indiana was without Oladipo who was out with a bruised right knee.

His availability tonight and his team-leading 24.4 points per game, will certainly have an impact on tonight’s outcome.

Here are five under-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Indiana.

INDY POINTS OFF TURNOVERS

Boston’s transition defense which has been up and down lately, will be challenged early and often by an Indiana team that likes to get out and run especially off of turnovers. They come into tonight’s game averaging 19.0 points off turnovers which ranks fourth in the NBA. Meanwhile, Boston is giving up 14.3 points off turnovers this season which is second in the league. Boston has given up 13.3 points off turnovers in the last six games, but it ranks just ninth in the league in that span.

SABONIS’ LOVE FOR THE CELTICS

Domantas Sabonis’ father Arvydas, spent his entire NBA career with the Portland Trail Blazers. But according to Domantas, his father was a huge fan of the Boston Celtics and Larry Bird.

Oh, there’s more.

“His favorite color is green, so he loves it even more,” Domantis said shortly after his workout for the Celtics in 2016. “Just everything about the team, the tradition, the winning … everything.”

ARON BAYNES

Teams with physical, smack-first, ask-questions-later-type centers, have given the Pacers problems this season; specifically, Andre Drummond of Detroit and Steven Adams of Oklahoma City, both of whom gave the Pacers major fits while each finishing with a double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds. Baynes has provided a much-needed presence around the rim for the Celtics, and has a defensive rating of 94.9 which is tops among all NBA players averaging 15 or more minutes played per game.

INDY’S PULL-UP GAME

There really isn’t any time when the Celtics can relax defensively against a Pacers team that has shown itself to have a diverse set of skills when it comes to scoring. For example, when it comes to pull-up shooting, they rank among the league’s best in several categories. According to NBA.com/stats, they are shooting a league-best 42.8 percent on pull-up shots which generates 21.9 points per game which ranks fourth in the league.

JAYSON TATUM

The Celtics have won three of their last five games, with each win followed by a loss in that span. There are lots of factors, but one that jumps out is the scoring of Jayson Tatum. In the two losses, he scored four and seven points, respectively. But in the three wins, the 19-year-old reached double figures in each game, scoring at least 11 points. For the season, he’s averaging 14.4 points while shooting 53.9 percent on 3’s and 53 percent from the field when the Celtics win. In losses, his scoring drops to 11.6 points per game while shooting 39.3 percent from the field and 40.9 percent on 3’s.

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Indiana Pacers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Pacers in Indiana. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

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