Irving, Brown lead Celtics to 15th straight victory. 110-99 over Hawks

Irving, Brown lead Celtics to 15th straight victory. 110-99 over Hawks

Coming off a signature win over Golden State just on Thursday, no one would have been shocked if the Boston Celtics had a bit of a letdown against the three-win Atlanta Hawks.

But the script on Saturday didn’t look all that different than previous games for Boston which extended its winning streak to 15 in a row in defeating the Hawks 110-99.

Kyrie Irving led all Celtics with 30 points with Jaylen Brown tallying a career-high 27 points. Atlanta (3-13) was led by Dennis Schroder’s 23 points while Kent Bazemore had 19.

Boston (15-2) has now won 15 in a row which ranks as the fifth-longest winning streak in franchise history, just four short of tying the 2008-2009 Celtics which won 19 straight.

The ways in which Boston has managed to extend its winning streak have varied, but a common denominator in most of them has been the Celtics seemingly getting stronger as the game progresses.

Boston spent most of the first half playing from behind, but a 17-7 run in the third quarter which was capped off by back-to-back 3’s by Jaylen Brown put the Celtics ahead 68-65.

The Celtics were able to maintain a slim lead for the rest of the quarter which ended with Boston ahead 80-77.

In many ways, Saturday’s win was indicative of how Boston has managed to keep on winning.

In the first half they struggled to score, but Marcus Morris did his part to keep them afloat with 10 of his 14 points coming in the second quarter.

Boston’s surge in the third quarter was fueled in large part by Jayson Tatum who finished with 14 points – all coming in the third which served as the highest-scoring quarter (36 points) for the Celtics this season.

Having regained control of the game, Boston’s top two scorers most of the night – Brown and Irving – took over as they combined to score 17 of the Celtics’ 30 fourth-quarter points.

And while the main guys were getting it done down the stretch, the Celtics got a much-needed lift from the second unit in the first half to get back in the game.

Marcus Smart, who has struggled mightily with his shooting of late, had eight of his 10 points off the bench in the first half which included a pair of 3’s.



Time for Celtics to shake off the blues in Memphis

Time for Celtics to shake off the blues in Memphis

As the Celtics’ players gathered their belongings and headed out for tonight’s game in Memphis, Gordon Hayward took a seat at his locker stall, the first one you come across when you enter the Celtics’ locker room.


Like most of us trying to make sense of Boston’s 107-95 loss to Utah, Hayward could sense the disappointment among his teammates. 

He offered a few words of encouragement to teammate Semi Ojeleye, whose locker was next to his, soon followed by a few more words for Jaylen Brown whose mindset was already on to the next game tonight at Memphis.

“We’re going to come out, respond, play as hard as we can,” said Brown, who added, “just come out and get a win against Memphis.”

That “on-to-the-next-one” mantra has served Boston well this season and they'll look to continue along those lines against the Grizzlies tonight.

Despite losses in three of their past five, the Celtics (24-7) still have the best record in the East – two games ahead of Cleveland (21-8).

“We got a big one [tonight],” said Terry Rozier. “We just have to pay attention to the details and take care of business.”

Here are under the radar storylines heading into tonight’s game against Memphis.

We have seen these two work in sync with one another for a good chunk of this season, so it was not all that surprising to see both play well against the Jazz. They combined to score 54 of Boston’s 95 points, or 56.8 percent of their scoring. And when it came to setting up teammates, they had 13 of Boston’s 20 assists, or 65 percent. They don’t have to be that dominant tonight, but putting up comparable numbers – and maybe getting one or two players to chip in as well – would go far in Boston getting back on a winning track.

J.B. Bickerstaff became Memphis’ interim head coach after the organization fired David Fizdale after a 7-12 start. Like any interim head coach, he’s trying his best to make a favorable impression so that the "interim" tag will be dropped. So far? Not great. The Grizzlies have lost eight of 10 since Fizdale’s firing in large part because of injuries – which was among the factors that contributed to Fizdale’s struggles. This isn’t Bickerstaff’s first go-around as an NBA head coach. As an assistant coach with the Houston Rockets, he was named the interim coach when Kevin McHale was fired in 2015. Bickerstaff went 37-34 and led the Rockets to the first round of the playoffs where they were eliminated in five games by the Golden State Warriors.

Talent, timing and effort all go hand-in-hand when it comes to rebounding success, with effort being the most critical component. And against the Jazz, Boston just didn’t seem to bring it at any point in the game. And the end result was a 55-31 rebounding advantage for the Jazz. Boston may catch a break tonight against the Grizzlies, who come into tonight’s game with a rebounding percentage of .478 which ranks 27th (out of 30 teams) in the NBA.

Friday night’s game against Utah was yet another underwhelming performance by Boston’s defense. The Celtics had a defensive rating of 109.3.  For the season, the Celtics still have the league’s top defense – barely. Their 100.6 defensive rating is just a smidge better than Oklahoma City (100.7). And once again, Boston might get some relief tonight against a Memphis team that has struggled offensively all season. They come into the game with an offensive rating of 101.4, which ranks 27th in the league.

It’s still too soon to say if Tatum has hit the rough patch all first-year players endure – better known as the rookie wall – but there’s no question his scoring of late has been off. The past three games, Tatum, 19, has scored a total of 26 points, which is the fewest he has scored in a three-game stretch as a pro. The rookie had seven points on 1-for-7 shooting against the Jazz, bringing his shooting numbers in the past three games to a not-so-great 8-for-22 (36.4 percent).



WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies


WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Grizzlies in Memphis. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: C's look to reverse some disturbing trends in Memphis 

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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