BOSTON – The last game before the NBA All-Star break is an unpredictable time for most teams including the Boston Celtics, with thoughts of dunks and decisive runs interspersed with thoughts of Disney vacations and decadent drinks on an island far, far away.
Good times on the horizon, for sure.
The All-Star break will be even more enjoyable for the Celtics if they can defeat the Los Angeles Clippers tonight.
Boston (40-18) comes into tonight’s game having lost two straight and three of its last four games and yet the Celtics are second in the East by one game to Toronto (40-16). Meanwhile, the Clippers (29-26) have won four of their last five games and trail New Orleans by a half-game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
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“We need to understand we need to come out and we have a job to do,” said Al Horford. “We have a game at home that we need to take care of. The mindset has to be to come out, be ready to compete through 48 (minutes). That Clippers team, it’s a different look team with shooters around DeAndre Jordan.”
Ex-Celtic Avery Bradley, traded to Detroit from Boston last summer for Marcus Morris, is among the newest Clippers.
In five games with the Clippers, Bradley has averaged 9.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.0 assists while shooting 44.7 percent from the field.
Boston has their own new guy, Greg Monroe, in the fold as well.
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He has appeared in three games for the Celtics, averaging 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds in 14.3 minutes per game.
Monroe’s playing time is very much a to-be-determined matter.
“It’ll just depend night-to-night, matchup to matchup and how we want to go,” said Stevens who added, “There’s a couple things we have in that fit his skillset well. After the break, those are things we’re looking to do.”
But until then, Stevens will continue to preach to his team the importance of staying in the moment and taking care of the task at hand.
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“Guys are going to have to do that, regardless,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “We all have a job to do. We’re playing a really good team (tonight) ... we’re going to have to be really focused and well-prepared.”
Celtics guard Kyrie Irving has made a point of, as one of the Celtics leaders, to try and make sure his youthful teammates are, “staying laser-sharp for the last game …”
Said Irving: “We got one home game in front of our fans before we take it on the road. It’s a good opportunity for us to come together before we do go on the break. So, I’m looking forward to the game (tonight) and go into the all-star game on a high note.”