Celtics

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

Mapping out the Celtics' next super long win streak

That Celtics win streak was dope. Let’s map out an even longer one that probably won’t happen. 

Nobody’s actually expecting them to keep the pace they’ve established with their recently concluded run. Still, with 63 games remaining, there’s still time for the Celtics to have up to three win streaks of even longer than 16 games. So, because it’s the holidays and the holidays are all about positivity (fun move you’ve probably picked up from movies: You can say “the holidays are all about _____” and just put in whatever you want and it will work), let’s map out the next win streak. 

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A big part of the Celtics’ 16-gamer (and get ready to say “duh”) is that they were better than a lot of the teams they beat. But they also beat one team that was without question better than them and beat a few teams that could certainly beat them on any given night. 

Here’s a rough breakdown of the 16 games: 

- Even if they didn’t go as smoothly as anticipated, nine games were against what could be classified as easy prey based on their rosters and how those teams were playing: The 76ers, the Knicks, the Kings, the Hawks twice, the Lakers, the Hornets, the Nets and the Mavericks. 

- Let’s say that the Heat (whom they played and beat during the streak before Miami snapped the streak Wednesday) and Magic weren’t perceived pushovers, but rather unremarkable opponents. 

- Four games were against what one could call worthy opponents for the Celtics: the Bucks, the Spurs (though they were missing Kawhi Leonard), the Thunder and the Raptors. 

- Nobody was ever pretending the Celtics were actually better than the Warriors. 

So that breaks the 16 games into one game against an unequivocally superior opponent, four against worthy opponents, two against unremarkable teams, and nine joke books. 

Of course, there are several variables that can be thrown into that, such as the fact that the C’s beat one of the aforementioned good teams (Toronto) without Kyrie Irving and nearly lost to two of those trash teams (Charlotte and Dallas). You can’t predict injuries just like you shouldn’t predict win streaks, but let’s take all the information we have and try to find the next one:

STARTING FRIDAY

Friday vs. Magic (trash; probable win)

Saturday at Pacers (unremarkable; potential loss)

A back-to-back after a holiday with the second game on the road against a team that’s been way better than expected? I don’t like the sound of it. 

Nov. 27 vs. Pistons (worthy opponent; potential loss)

Are they overrated? Maybe, but Pistons currently hold the second spot in the Eastern Conference. Whether it’s the Pacers or the Pistons, I think this short stretch prevents a speed bump. The streak might have to wait. 

STARTING NOV. 30

Nov. 30 against Sixers (upgraded to unremarkable based on recent play; still win)

Remember: The last streak started against the Sixers. Hopefully, Kyrie pays that fans’ way to Boston for a halftime reunion. 

Dec. 2 vs. Suns (trash; win)

Dec. 4 vs. Bucks (worthy opponent; win)

Celtics aren’t losing to those sons of guns twice at home. 

Dec. 6 vs. Dallas (trash; win)

Can you get revenge on a team for almost beating you? Yes. The Celtics will. 

Dec. 8 at Spurs (worthy opponent; win)

Until I see Kawhi on the court, this one is a win. 

Dec. 10 at Detroit (worthy opponent; win)

The Pistons play the Spurs, Bucks and Warriors the three previous games. They’ll be all tuckered out. 

Dec. 11 through Dec. 23 (mix of unremarkable and trash opponents; seven wins)

Dec. 25 vs. Wizards (worthy opponent; win)

Terry Rozier becomes a household name with a Christmas performance for the ages. 

Dec. 27 at Charlotte (trash; win) 

Dec. 28 vs. Houston (worthy opponent; win) 

Dec. 31 vs. Brooklyn (trash; loss)

The Celtics are 0-1 the days prior to holidays this season. The streak ends at 18. 

THE REST OF THE SEASON

We'll assess it then, but for now, let's say undefeated (including playoffs).

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Hayward may ditch the boot for good on Wednesday

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Hayward may ditch the boot for good on Wednesday

BOSTON -- The timetable for Gordon Hayward’s return to the court hasn’t changed as far as the Celtics are concerned. 
 
But try telling that to Hayward, who may be out of his walking boot for good very soon -- like tomorrow soon. 
 
C's coach Brad Stevens gave an update on Hayward’s status in an interview with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski for Krzyzewski’s SiriusXM show, “Basketball & Beyond with Coach K,” which will air Thursday at 6 p.m. ET (SiriusXM channel 84).
 
“He’s going to the doctor [Wednesday] to potentially get out of his walking boot for good, which he’s jacked about,” Stevens said.
 
Stevens and Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, have reiterated how aggressive Hayward has been in attacking his rehab since suffering a dislocated left ankle injury in the season opener at Cleveland on October 17. 
 
“He is literally in the weight room as we speak,” Stevens said. “Does all the training table [work], just like our guys. Has his own shooting time even when he was in a boot, sitting in a chair. He had his own shooting time and had his own lifting time, just like all our players do before practice.”
 
From the very outset, Stevens and the Celtics have made keeping Hayward as involved as possible a priority.
  
But Stevens is quick to caution that while Hayward is making good progress, the Celtics are still proceeding forward as though they will not have him back until next season.

“His status is, the way that we’ve looked at it the whole time is, we don’t expect him back this year,” Stevens said. “But he shoots for all of his goals, week to week, day to day, to try to expedite it as much as he can. He obviously wants to be back, like any athlete, as soon as he can.”
 
Hayward signed a four-year, $127.8 million contract with the Celtics this summer after spending his first seven NBA seasons with the Utah Jazz. Boston was awarded an $8.4 million disabled player exception for Hayward's injury, the largest DPE ever. Boston was awarded the exception in part because independent doctors determined that it’s “likely” that Hayward will not be able to return prior to June 15.
 
However, Boston will still keep the DPE until it expires (March 10, 2018) even if Hayward returns sooner than expected. 
 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE


 

A night to forget in Chicago for C's

A night to forget in Chicago for C's

BOSTON – No Kyrie Irving. The fifth game in eight nights. Chicago getting Nikola Mirotic back.
 
There’s a long list of reasons one can surmise in trying to make sense of Boston’s 108-85 loss to the woeful Chicago Bulls on Monday.

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“They came out with more energy, more purpose,” Al Horford told reporters after the loss. “We probably needed more sense of urgency.”
 
He’s right.
 
At no point in the game did the Celtics play with the kind of desperation needed to be competitive, let alone emerge with a win.
 
The loss hurts but doesn’t have much of an impact on the team’s record (23-6) or position as the best team record-wise in the East.
 
Still, it serves as a stark reminder of what can happen when even the best of teams don’t play with some semblance of desperation – they can get crushed.
 
“Chicago dictated the whole game; they played harder than we did,” Stevens said. “They played with more presence than we did; played more competitive than we did. They played with more authority than we did. You’re not going to win many games when you play like that.”
 
Here are five other takeaways from the loss:


JAYSON TATUM
The 19-year-old had one of those back-to-earth moments on Monday. He delivered the kind of sub-par performance we have not seen from him this season, which is pretty amazing considering we’re more than a third of the way through the regular season. Tatum had a season-low four points, missing six of his seven shots along with all four of his 3-point attempts.


 


LACK OF HUSTLE
For most of the game, Chicago simply outworked Boston, which again is something we have not seen much of this season. And this was noticeable at both ends of the floor. Against the Bulls, Boston had a total of seven assists via screens. To put that in perspective, Aron Baynes had eight screen assists by himself in Sunday’s win at Detroit. And with so much length, the Celtics are accustomed to getting their hands on a lot of balls via deflections. Boston’s deflection total against the Bulls? Two. It was that kind of night for the Green Team.


SCHEDULED LOSS?
No team wants to blame the schedule for a loss, but there are certain games in which the degree of difficulty to win is increased in part because of timing. Monday night's game was Boston’s fifth in eight days. No matter how talented or deep a team may be, such stretches of play eventually factor into a not-so-great performance. We’ve seen the Celtics have a few of these this season, but often found a way to muster up enough stretches of good play to escape with a win. But on Monday, they just couldn’t string together enough good plays at either end of the floor to swing the game’s momentum in their favor.


 
KYRIE IRVING
We have thought highly of Irving since he’s joined the Celtics, in large part because of what he does to impact winning. His sitting out Monday night to rest a sore quad muscle created a window of opportunity for his teammates. Instead, the game turned into a referendum on why Irving is an MVP candidate. This team without him, on Monday night at least, was horrible. If he does miss any more games, you can count on the Celtics playing much better than what we saw against Chicago. But in the meantime, they would just as soon leave the Irving-less games to hypothetical scenarios rather than being part of their reality.



BRAD STEVENS
There have been some who have debated whether Brad Stevens is the real MVP of this Celtics team and will use Monday’s loss as an example to debunk that notion. But here’s what you have to remember. A coaches’ game plan is only as good as the players are at executing it. And just like players will have a stinker game here and there over an 82-game regular season, the same goes for coaches. Stevens couldn’t find a matchup against Chicago that worked. And defensively, the players were a step slow most of the night no matter what Stevens called for them to do. Could Stevens have done a better job? Absolutely. He’ll be the first to tell you that. But this loss was more about the Celtics not playing with enough of a sense of urgency, which is a collaborative effort between Stevens and his players. They fell short of accomplishing that against the Bulls.