Celtics look to take advantage of long homestand


Celtics look to take advantage of long homestand

BOSTON – When it comes to winning, the Boston Celtics have distinguished themselves as one of the best in doing so away from the TD Garden.

But for Boston to continue to be among the best in the Eastern Conference, taking care of business at home becomes an absolute necessity.

They will get plenty of opportunities to do just that with seven of their next eight games at the TD Garden.

The timing of a long homestand could not be any better for Boston, losers in two of their last three games – all on the road.

There has been noticeable slippage defensively by Boston which has allowed opponents to score at least 100 points in each of the Celtics’ last seven games.

In that span, Boston’s has had a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 110.2 which ranks 23rd in the NBA.

That’s a noticeably steep departure from their season defensive rating of 100.1 which ranks fifth in the league.

The recent struggles have dropped Boston (33-25) to the fourth spot in the East, mere percentage points behind Miami (32-24) which has won three straight.

Right about now Boston could use the kind of lift provided by playing in front of the Garden faithful.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “It’s going to be good (being) at home.”

But simply playing in front of their fans won’t cut it.

Their defense has to be more impactful. Ball movement can’t just be something that happens every other quarter, either.   

“We just need to get some wins,” Bradley said. “I’m confident we can do that.”

The Celtics are 17-10 at home this season which puts them sixth among Eastern Conference teams in home victories.

This stretch will allow them to not just pad that total, but also establish a certain presence at home which they will need in order to remain among the top five or so teams in the East.

It’s pretty amazing how far this team has come in a relatively short period of time particularly when it comes to winning at home.

During Stevens’ first year, Boston’s rebuilding plan made winning difficult regardless of being home or away. Boston won 16 home games that season.

The success of that first season provided the jumping-off point for the following season in which the Celtics finished with the seventh-best record and returned to the playoffs after a one season absence. Part of that success included Boston finishing with a 21-20 record at home.

But the success and progress of the past won’t do the Celtics much good with the likes of Milwaukee and Miami coming into town in the coming days.

“We need to take advantage of the home court and try to win all seven,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Take it one game at a time, but we definitely need to take advantage of this stretch.”


Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

As the Milwaukee Bucks put the finishing touches on a first-round sweep, their fans were already looking ahead.

The Bucks officially set up a second-round NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics by beating the Pistons in Detroit on Monday night. And before that game even finished, fans at a Game 4 watch party in Milwaukee had the C's on their minds.

This is a perfect revenge matchup for the Bucks after Boston ousted them in the first round last season. Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted as much Monday night after his team's series-clinching win.

But here's a quick warning for Bucks fans: Be careful what you wish for. The Celtics are riding high off a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers, and the last time another fanbase expressed its desire to play a Boston team was New York Yankees fans ahead of the 2018 American League Division Series. And we all know how that ended.

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Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

To nobody's surprise, the Boston Celtics are going to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

The Bucks, the East's No. 1 seed, had the best record in the NBA last season (60-22) and faced little resistance in their first-round matchup. They easily swept the Detroit Pistons in four games. The Pistons' star player, Blake Griffin, was far from healthy, and that played a role in the Bucks' series win.

This is the second year in a row that the Celtics will play the Bucks in the playoffs. Last year, the No. 2 seeded Celtics defeated the Bucks in a series that spanned seven games. The home team won every game in that series.

The Bucks will be a tough opponent for the Celtics. Potential league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a matchup nightmare, and he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game during the regular season. And around him, the Bucks have solid depth.

In their regular season series, the Celtics posted only a 1-2 record against the Bucks, winning their first meeting in November but coming up just short in their other two games. Antetokounmpo averaged 31 points per game against the Celtics, so slowing him down will be key to finding success in the series.

The Celtics will open on the road in this series, as the first two games will be in Milwaukee. The Celtics will have to ensure that they get off to a solid start and continue to fare well on the road, something they struggled to do last postseason (1-7 record in eight road games, 0-3 in Milwaukee).

BLAKELY: Celtics vs. Bucks playoff history>>>

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