Celtics

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.

For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

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For Celtics, comebacks build confidence

BOSTON -- There’s no team in the NBA that seems to like a good comeback as much as the Boston Celtics.
 
They come into tonight’s game against Philadelphia having rallied from a double-digit deficit to earn a victory nine times -- more than any other team this season.
 
It certainly provides them with a realistic boost of confidence that no deficit is too steep.  Repeatedly rallying to win after falling behind by large margins has created an unspoken confidence among the Celtics that how they start games doesn’t matter as long as they finish off playing the right way.

I asked Jayson Tatum about whether the Celtics have become too comfortable with digging themselves early deficits only to go on a tear and pull off a comeback win.
 
“Probably subconsciously we do,” Tatum said. “But we have to get away from that.”
 
Here are five other story lines to follow heading into tonight’s game between Boston and Philadelphia.
 
 

TATUM’S SHOOTING

Boston’s inability to come back from a large deficit and beat New Orleans wasn’t the only oddity about Tuesday’s loss. It was one of the few games this season when Jayson Tatum didn’t really look to score when on the floor. He had 10 points on 3-for-6 shooting to go with five rebounds, which isn’t a bad night. And while it’s always good to be an efficient scorer, him taking so few shot attempts has to be the exception rather than the rule most nights in order for Boston to be successful. This season the Celtics are 17-4 when he takes 10 or more shots, 17-7 when his shot attempt numbers are in the single digits.
 

TEMPER, TEMPER

The last time these two met, Boston’s Marcus Morris and Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons had issues when Simmons set a really hard foul on Morris, a Philadelphia native, who immediately rose to his feet and pushed Simmons. Since then, Simmons had another on-court bruhaha with another Philly native, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors.  Simmons suspects guys are coming after him with a little extra something because he’s a rookie.

"I don't know if they're trying to test me or see how I am on the court, but I won't play around," Simmons said after the Sixers’ win over Toronto.

Morris called the foul Simmons committed against him last week in London a cheap shot.

 “But it’s all right,” Morris told reporters at the time. “I take a lot of cheap shots, too. It’s good to see Philly got some . . . tougher guys. I promise you that won’t happen again. It is what it is.”

ROOKIES ROLLIN’ DOUBLES

Tatum has been among the league’s most consistent scorers among the rookie class. He leads all first-year players with 38 games of scoring in double digits. Simmons, arguably the front-runner for the league’s Rookie of the Year award, has 35 double-digit scoring games which trails Tatum and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen (36).

POPULARITY ON THE RISE

The NBA recently released the top-selling NBA jerseys for the fourth quarter (Oct. 2017 – Dec. 2017) of 2017. Tonight’s game features a trio of players who ranked among the top 15. Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid came in at No. 6, while fellow Sixer Ben Simmons had the eighth-highest selling jersey. For Boston, Kyrie Irving’s No. 11 jersey came in at No. 12.

JERRYD BAYLESS

With J.J. Redick (leg injury) out, look for Bayless’ role to increase significantly tonight. The former Celtic is averaging 8.5 points per game this season. But in three games against Boston, he has risen his scoring to 10.3 points per game while shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 63.6 percent from 3-point range.

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

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WATCH: Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics host the 76ers at TD Garden. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview:  Sweeping Sixers will depend on containing Joel Embiid

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