Celtics

Celtics youth working through their growing pains

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Celtics youth working through their growing pains

LOS ANGELES – You never like to put too much stock into any particular stretch of the season.

But listening to the Celtics following their 103-95 loss to the now-14 win Orlando Magic, the Celtics head west searching for continuity, a rekindled resolve and maybe most important, a clearer path towards where they are and just how far they can go with this current crew.

So as basketball junkies crunch the numbers, analyze and then over-analyze the data, there’s one factor in all this that has for the most part been ignored in their ascension to the top of the Eastern Conference mountaintop – their youth.

We talk about it in the context of 19-year-old Jayson Tatum who does some amazing things that players who have been in the league for years, do not do.

But as you start to look at tis roster and see players like rookie Semi Ojeleye, 25-year-old fellow rookie Daniel Theis from Germany and Tatum play in crunch time, it’s a reminder that these kids have grown up pretty fast all things considered.

However, they are still prone to make the mistakes of youth and maybe just as significant, have stretches when they just don’t play with the kind of consistency required to be one of the top teams in the NBA.

Boston (34-13) has shown itself capable of playing with the big boys in the NBA, despite being a team littered wit bunch of young pups in terms of experience and chemistry.

And while what many may see as a team that’s trying to find its way through a rough patch of games, that’s not what’s going on.

These are growing pains, the kind that every team goes through to some extent.

But the struggles seem more pronounced with a team with so many young players.

That’s why the idea of adding a player (a shooter please) is one that the Celtics are seriously looking into on all levels of play.

Now mind you, Boston has an $8.4 million disabled player exception from the Gordon Hayward injury which they can use to add a player who is in the final year of his contract.

Most teams let it lapse without using it, but I’m told the Celtics have every intention of using it because as we’ve seen of late, there’s a clear and undeniable need for this team to add a scorer, be it in the frontcourt or on the perimeter.

They need a steady perimeter scorer, the kind of player that can hit the ground but more important, hit shots.

Boston is first going to go the G-League route which has led to them signing Jarell Eddie to a 10-day contract with the hope that he can show more promise than their current roster that’s full of perimeter players who have been inconsistent shooters all season.

Even during their season-best 16 game winning streak and later when they reeled off seven in a row, their success was rooted in good defense and ho-hum offense.

We’re deep enough into the season to have a pretty good feel for who the Celtics are, and yet there’s still enough time for them to make a radical change and still have plenty of time before the postseason arrives.

That’s why this west coast trip is about more than just trying to right the ship; it’s about determining if Danny Ainge needs to switch up the crew with some addition by subtraction.

It’s no secret that the Celtics could use some added depth in a number of areas.

But the most glaring weakness right now is perimeter shooting, which is why Jarell Eddie is here.

The Celtics signed him to a 10-day contract because the players they have already signed to guaranteed deals have been anything but a guarantee to make shots.

And while some perceive that as something lacking in the players, the only thing we know for sure that they lack is experience which is something time takes care of as this Boston team continues to come of age, one youngster at a time.

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Celtics get back to work, but are thinking ahead

Celtics get back to work, but are thinking ahead

Earlier this week, Celtics big man Al Horford referred to the matchups following the All-Star break as “rehearsal games” for what really matters – the playoffs.

As important as it is to win, it’s even more vital to start building good habits at both ends of the floor, the things that become absolutely essential to a team’s pursuit of going deep into the playoffs.

And as much as the Celtics try to stick to the “one day at a time” mantra that all teams talk about incessantly, they are no different than most teams near the top of the standings.

They want to get to the playoffs and are well aware that how they handle themselves and grow in the coming weeks will have a major impact on their postseason success or struggles.

“I believe this is the time where you start doing this now in preparation for the playoffs,” said Jaylen Brown. “I remember with the group we had last year, everybody started making sacrifices mentally, physically, and prepared themselves for the long haul. And now you can see the same thing happening with this team. Especially physically, just knowing what we have to do to be a team that plays in the long, long end part of the season.”

HOMECOMING (OF SORTS) FOR HORFORD
Al Horford is proud of his Dominican Republic roots, but often it’s forgotten that he played his prep basketball in Michigan. The big man and his family moved to Michigan in 2000 where Horford played for Grand Ledge (Mich.) High School and become a four-star recruit before taking his talents to the University of Florida where he helped lead the Gators to back-to-back national championships.

Grand Ledge is about 90 minutes northwest of Detroit.

BAYNES FACTOR
Despite playing fewer minutes than any of Boston’s starters, there’s no getting around the impact Aron Baynes has had when he plays. This season, the Celtics have a defensive rating of 96.4 when he’s on the floor. That number jumpers to 103.5 for a team-best differential of 7.1.

CLOSE CALLS
Celtics fans definitely come away feeling they got their money’s worth when the Green Team plays most nights. This season, Boston has won a league-high five games by one point. The last time they had more one-point wins in a season was the 1995-96 season when they won six games by a single point. The franchise record of one-point victories (seven) was set in the 1981-82 season.

MORE BUCKETS FOR BROWN
When Jaylen Brown scores, good things tend to happen for the Celtics. This season, Boston is 8-1 when he scores at least 18 points.

KYRIE ON THE ROAD
Kyrie Irving loves to get baskets at the TD Garden, but has shown an ability to elevate his scoring even more on the road. His numbers in several categories are indeed better on the road than they are at home. He’s averaging 23.7 points at home, but that number increases to 25.8 on the road. His shooting on the road is a strong 50.3 percent, up from 46.8 at home. And from 3-point range, Irving connects at 42.8 percent rate on the road compared to just 36.6 percent at home.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 
 

WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Detroit Pistons

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