Now, can Celtics right themselves at home?

Now, can Celtics right themselves at home?

BOSTON – The TD Garden can be a raucous place for visiting teams, especially when the Celtics are playing well.

But lately, fans have had very little to cheer about.

Boston comes into tonight’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies riding a three-game losing streak at home, the team’s longest losing skid at home this season.

A loss tonight would match the longest home losing streak for the Celtics since they dropped four in a row Jan. 14 to Feb. 1, 2015.

But if there was ever a team to play that would help them get back on track at home, it’s the Grizzlies.

They come into tonight’s game with a 5-22 road record. That's tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the fewest road wins in the NBA.

And as you delve deeper into their road struggles, you will find that they are a woeful 0-9 on the road against teams in the Eastern Conference.

Which means Celtics fans should have even more to cheer about when all is said and done tonight.

Here are five other below-the-radar storylines heading into tonight’s game:

Wayne Selden Jr. isn’t expected to play tonight for Memphis because of a right knee injury. But you won’t know it by the number of fans coming to the TD Garden just to see him.

In his second NBA season, Selden, from nearby Roxbury, is averaging 8.3 points in 19.5 minutes per game, appearing in 20 games (eight starts) along with shooting 38.1 percent from 3-point range.

Chandler Parsons was among the many within the NBA community saddened by the news of longtime NBA agent Dan Fegan, being killed in a car accident in Colorado over the weekend.

“That’s tough. Probably the worst news I’ve ever heard,” Parsons told NBC Sports Boston, regarding his former agent. “The last four or five years he was like a father figure to me, the things he did for me and my family. I’m forever grateful for him. I’m going to miss him a lot. He was one of the best agents to do it. Just awful … praying for his son, praying for the nanny. I hope she makes it.”

Fegan, 56, was reportedly driving an SUV when he was hit by a commuter bus while attempting to merge onto a highway near Aspen, Colorado.

A Colorado State Trooper told the Aspen Times that the vehicle was also occupied by Fegan’s 5-year-old son and a 29-year-old California woman, and that both were airlifted to a Denver hospital and listed in serious condition.

No one was hurt on the bus that hit Fegan’s SUV.

Tayshaun Prince, a former Celtic for a really, really hot minute, is back at the TD Garden tonight as part of the Memphis Grizzlies’ staff. Prince, acquired by Boston in January of 2015 and traded away about a month later, is a special advisor to the Grizzlies.

Although most of Prince’s career was spent with the Detroit Pistons, the 6-foot-9 defensive stalwart was also a member of the Grizzlies where he developed a close bond with their core players, Marc Gasol and Mike Conley Jr.

“I know what kind of leadership those guys bring,” Prince, who travels with the team full-time, told NBC Sports Boston. “But also, moving on from Zach [Randolph], Tony [Allen] and Vince [Carter] and going to the youth movement, they would need some type of experience from surrounding guys.”

Prince, widely praised by coach Brad Stevens in his brief time as a Celtic, is getting to do a little bit of everything in Memphis.

He works with some players individually after practice, in addition to spending time with the Memphis front office where Prince says he gets to pick “… their brains a little bit, gain some knowledge and see things from that side, too.”

This East versus West matchup has two teams that are about as far apart as you can imagine. The Celtics come into tonight’s game 15-9  against the Western Conference, tops among teams in the East. Conversely, Memphis is 3-18 record vs. the East, worst in the West.

Jayson Tatum has been a standout this season for his ability to play both ends of the floor at a fairly high level. Just as significant has been the 6-9 forward being able to physically show up ready to play every night. In fact, he is one of just three rookies to appear in every game this season for their respective team. The other two are Memphis’ Dillon Brooks and Toronto’s OG Anunoby.


Celtics finding ways to win without Kyrie Irving

File Photo

Celtics finding ways to win without Kyrie Irving

As expected, Kyrie Irving’s first regular season with the Boston Celtics is over following a procedure on his left knee Saturday that team officials described as being "minimally invasive," that will keep him sidelined until the playoffs.

Not having Irving for the final 10 games of the regular season is certainly disappointing for Boston, but it won’t have the kind of devastating impact one might expect a team to have to endure when the leading scorer is out for a significant chunk of time.

Friday’s 105-100 win over Portland was Boston’s fifth straight game without Irving, and 12th this season.


There’s no question Boston is a better team when he is in the lineup.

But when he’s not, the Celtics have continued to find ways to win games which is evident in their 8-4 record when Irving has not played.

Victories over teams like the Blazers only validates the quality depth that the Celtics players speak of when they talk about their team. 

“We know what we have,” said Boston’s Al Horford. “It is encouraging for our group. And for us it’s to make sure we keep working and understand when we commit on the defensive end, we’re a tough team to beat.”

But Horford acknowledges the challenge to be successful becomes infinity greater when key players such as Irving are out.

“We can’t dwell on the guys who are not here, the guys who are injured,” Horford said. “It’s tough, but it’s an opportunity for other guys to step up and guys have really taken advantage of that opportunity. We’re trying to move forward. It’s hard but we don’t have an option.”

Here are five takeaways from Boston’s 105-100 win at Portland on Friday night.


The ability to not just run a team but do so in an effective, steady manner is what separated Shane Larkin from most of the guys who saw action last night. He made timely shots, kept the ball moving (he had seven assists and just one turnover) while playing at a really good tempo which was apparent as he finished with a pace of 95.97 which was tops among all Celtics players.


Greg Monroe could not have picked a better time to play his best basketball of the season. Against the Blazers, he came off the bench and tallied a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. The 10 boards were particularly impressive with a team-best rebounding percentage of .303 and team-best usage percentage of .316 which speaks to how Boston made a point of going to Monroe early and often when he was on the floor.


It was another big-time scoring night for Marcus Morris who led all scorers with 30 points, easily becoming a fixture as Boston’s go-to guy now that Kyrie Irving (left knee) will miss the rest of the regular season. And like Irving, Morris is doing it in an extremely efficient manner. Against the Blazers, the 6-foot-8 forward was 9-for-13 (69.2 percent) shooting from the field with an effective field goal percentage eFG% of .885.


For most of Friday’s game, Jayson Tatum was not having a good game offensively with three points through three quarters of play. But Tatum, one of the NBA’s better fourth quarter players, was once again saving his best for last. He would go on to lead the Celtics with 10 points in the fourth quarter, which was a huge factor in Boston’s comeback victory.


The Celtics’ second unit looks a little different, but the production and overall impact remains strong as ever. Boston’s backups outscored their Portland brethren 26-10. But more than the points, Boston’s backups individually came up with big plays. Greg Monroe’s 10-point, 10-rebound performance stood out for obvious reasons. But the floor leadership of Shane Larkin and timely contributions from Guerschon Yabusele was also important in the win.


Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Blakely: Stevens has this coaching in March stuff down

Sometimes we forget that a big part of why Brad Stevens is in Boston is because of what he has done as a coach this time of year.

He led a pair of Butler teams to deep postseason runs before coming up short in a pair of national title games.

Well, he’s embarking on a different kind of March Madness in leading the Celtics to a string of improbable wins, the latest being a 105-100 victory at Portland on Friday night.

It was the kind of victory that when you start to roll out the reasons why Stevens should be this season’s Coach of the Year winner, folks will use the win at Portland as an example.

The Blazers are not only one of the better teams at home, but they came in having won 13 of 14 games with the lone loss coming to Houston, which has the best record in the NBA.

But what made the victory so unexpected was the cut-and-paste lineup Stevens has employed because of a long rash of injuries.

Kyrie Irving missed his fifth consecutive game and is expected to be lost for another three to six weeks after having a procedure to on Saturday to help alleviate some of the soreness in his left knee.

Jaylen Brown has missed several games with a concussion, but he has progressed to where he's now questionable for the game in Sacramento on Sunday night. 

Boston was also without Marcus Smart (right thumb) who won’t be back until sometime in the playoffs.

And that doesn’t factor in Gordon Hayward (dislocated left ankle) or Daniel Theis (torn meniscus, left knee), both out for the season.

It’s easy to chalk up Stevens’ success to great Xs and O’s work.

But he’s doing more than that.

He’s inspiring a level of confidence in players that generated results exceeding all expectations; that is, expectations outside of their locker room.

Even when this team struggled with no clear signs of hope on the horizon, they didn’t blink.

Rather than use their less-than-ideal state as a justification for poor play, they funneled that energy and focus into becoming a better team - not better players, but a better team.

Because frankly, that is what we’ve seen from this group all season. Of course, you have your star in Irving, but this team has been a get-it-done-or-else squad all year that doesn’t get too locked into the success or struggles of any one teammate.

And that has allowed Boston to withstand the kind of injuries to key players that would have crippled many other teams.

But with the lack of bodies, there has been a lack of respect for how good this team really is.

Stevens has tapped into that and used it to help focus this team on playing great and most important, giving themselves a chance to win regardless of the opponent, regardless of how dire a situation may be.

And that has created the kind of March Madness Celtics fans are absolutely lovin’ right now.