Celtics

C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

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C's thriving on road, look to keep trend going vs lowly Bulls

The Boston Celtics have spent a good chunk of the season playing away from the TD Garden which as we’ve seen, hasn’t been a bad thing.

Boston has an 11-3 road record this season, and are just one of three teams (Houston and Golden State) with double-digit road wins this season.

And while there’s no such thing as a given, the Celtics have to feel pretty good about their chances of getting road win No. 12 tonight against the Chicago Bulls (5-20) who are at the opposite end of the success spectrum this season.

Indeed, the Bulls – owners of the worst record in the NBA now – are a radically different team from the one that jumped out to a 2-0 series lead in their first-round playoff series last spring before the Celtics bounced back to win the next four to close out the series and eventually advance to the Eastern Conference finals.

The key in that series for the Celtics was their ability to win on the road (it didn’t hurt their chances that Rajon Rondo, a key to Chicago winning Games 1 and 2 in Boston, was unable to play in the last four games of the series due to injury). 

But as good as that team was, this season’s Celtics team seems more equipped to find success on the road in part because they have so many interchangeable parts up and down the roster.

And just as important, there’s more of a matter-of-fact mindset to what they do rather than feeling the need to prove themselves in comparison to other elite teams in the NBA.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines heading into tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and the Chicago Bulls.

 

ROOKIE STANDOUTS

There has been a lot of talk about Jayson Tatum’s breakout rookie season, but the Bulls have a star on the rise as well from the 2017 NBA draft class in Lauri Markkanen. Tatum leads the NBA – not just rookies, but the entire league – in 3-point shooting (51.8 percent) and averages 14 points per game. Markkanen, draft with the seventh overall pick by Minnesota (but traded to Chicago as part of the Jimmy Butler deal), averages 14.3 points and 7.9 rebounds which ranks fifth and second, respectively, among rookies. 

 

GOING BACK TO BACK 

This will be Boston’s fourth back-to-back this season. On the second night, the Celtics are 2-1 with the lone loss being Oct. 18 against Milwaukee which was the second game of the season along with the first game for Boston without Gordon Hayward following his season-ending left ankle injury. 

 

UP AND DOWN SHOOTING

There’s a certain ebb and flow all teams are looking for with their offense, but this is not what the Celtics had in mind when talking about shooting. After failing to shoot 50 percent or better in their first 20 games, the Celtics strung together five straight in which they reached the 50 percent or better mark. However, they are back to how they began the season, shooting less than 50 percent in each of their last three games.

 

TATUM CLIMBING THE CHARTS 

The 6-foot-8 rookie has scored in double figures 16 straight games. The last first-year player for Boston to have that many consecutive double-digit scoring games was Antoine Walker who reeled off 20 in a row in 1997.

 

SMART PASSES

There’s an obsession almost with fans when it comes to Marcus Smart and his shooting. But the stat that fans really need to keep an eye on is his assists total. Boston has a 13-1 record this season when Smart tallies five or more assists.

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Inconsistency leads Celtics to another disappointing loss

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Inconsistency leads Celtics to another disappointing loss

LOS ANGELES – Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 108-107 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers which extended their losing streak to four in a row.

STARS

Kyle Kuzma: He’s not an all-star, but he delivered an all-star worthy performance on Tuesday. He led the Lakers with 28 points off the bench while shooting 10-for-16 from the field.

Kyrie Irving: This was yet another game in which Irving played at an elite level only to come up short. He led all scorers with 33 points 13-for-24 shooting.

STUDS

Marcus Smart: While he may have come up short in missing the potential game-winner, Smart made a lot of winning plays at both ends of the floor. He would finish with 22 points on 7-for-13 shooting with eight assists and just one turnover.

Jordan Clarkson: One of the NBA’s better scorers off the bench, Clarkson tallied 22 points on 8-for-17 shooting to go with five rebounds and two steals while logging a team-high 34 minutes.

Julius Randle: His ability to control the action and impact the game around the rim, was huge. He had a double-double of 14 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 6-for-12 from the field.

Marcus Morris: His role as a primary scorer off the bench seems to be one well-suited for him. Morris finished with 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting along with seven rebounds and two blocked shots.

DUDS

Jayson Tatum: Just a bad night on so many fronts for Tatum. He had four points on 1-for-6 shooting with his lone made basket a 3-pointer in the fourth quarter.

Celtics rebounding:  Boston has had its share of rebounding struggles in the past, so it wasn’t all that surprising how they lost the battle of the glass. But the Lakers didn’t just beat them; they absolutely dominated them in a much more decisive manner than the final rebounding numbers – 51 for the Lakers, 42 for the Celtics – might indicate. The Lakers were especially effective on the offensive boards with 14 that led to 23, second-chance points.

Aron Baynes: The fact that he didn’t score wasn’t the problem. His struggles had more to do with his defense which wasn’t nearly as good as we’re accustomed to seeing. A big part of that had to do with foul trouble.

Free throw shooting: Boston hasn’t had a friendly whistle in quite a while, but Tuesday was one of the more glaringly obvious games in which the Celtics’ lack of free throw attempts was a major factor in the game’s outcome. Put it like this: The Lakers had more free throws by halftime (13) than the Celtics had for the entire game (10). The Lakers would finish 21-for-36 from the line while Boston was 8-for-10.

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Celtics fall short again, lose to Lakers 108-107

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Celtics fall short again, lose to Lakers 108-107

LOS ANGELES – The Boston Celtics failed to rebound, literally and figuratively, on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, resulting in a 108-107 loss that extended their season-long losing streak to four in a row.

Marcus Smart’s potential game-winning shot hit the back of the rim as time expired.

Boston (34-14) got another monster game from Kyrie Irving who led all scorers with 33 points. Smart had 22 points, only the second time this season he has had 20 or more points in a game.

But this game was decided by the Lakers’ dominance on the glass, as they out-rebounded Boston 51-42 which included a 14-7 advantage on the offensive glass which led to 23 second-chance points for the Lakers (18-29).

However, the Celtics did make things interesting.

A 3-pointer by Terry Rozier made it a 106-103 game wit 23.8 seconds to play.

Josh Hart was fouled by Al Horford, but missed both free throws.

Julius Randle grabbed the miss, but fouled Marcus Smart who went to the free throw line and made a pair that cut the Lakers lead to 106-105 with less than 20 seconds to play.

Boston tried to steal the ball, but wound up fouling Jordan Clarkson who made a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds to push the Lakers lead to 108-105.

After a Celtics time-out, Terry Rozier scored on a driving lay-up with 7.3 seconds to play.

The Lakers’ Kentavious Pope-Caldwell missed a pair of free throws in the closing seconds as well, which set up Boston’s potential game-winner by Smart.

Despite the Lakers giving Boston one opportunity after another to win the game, the Celtics consistently fell short in a game that was there for the taking.

Following a Celtics time-out with 6:40 to play, Boston seemed on its was re-establishing control when Marcus Smart stole the ball and had a 2-on-1 break with Jaylen Brown and the Celtics ahead 91-90.

Rather than driving in for the lay-up, Smart threw a lob pass to Brown for a dunk that Brown missed.

That was just what the Lakers needed, as they scored on the ensuing possession which was the beginning of 9-2 Lakers run that proved to be a surge that Boston could not overcome.

The close finish was indicative of how the game began with neither team showing any signs in the first quarter of taking control.  

The Celtics began to put some separation between themselves and the Lakers in the second quarter.

Trailing 33-32, Boston went on a 7-0 run capped off by a 3-pointer by Irving.

The Celtics would eventually pull ahead by 14 points before settling in for a comfortable 53-45 halftime lead.

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