Celtics

Celtics defense crumbles as they're blown out by Bulls, 108-85

celtics_bulls_bobby_portis_121117.jpg

Celtics defense crumbles as they're blown out by Bulls, 108-85

It was a blowout in the Windy City, but not exactly how anyone saw coming. 

A day after exacting revenge against Detroit for what was Boston’s worst loss of the season, the Celtics deliver a stinker of all stinkers in being soundly beaten 108-85 by the Bulls who now "improve" their record to 6-20 with a third straight win.

The Celtics (23-6) were without Irving who suffered a quads injury against the Pistons on Sunday. Boston was also without Marcus Morris (left knee soreness) whose return is to be determined.

But we’ve seen the Celtics in the past play without key players and find a way to not just compete but emerge victorious.

Not on Monday.

It seemed most of the game, the Celtics were a step slow at both ends of the floor resulting in the Bulls getting great looks offensively and making more plays than usual on defense.

While most of the focus without Irving was on Boston’s offense, it was the Celtics’ defense that truly let them down.

At no point did the Celtics apply the kind of defensive pressure you expect to see from the league’s top-ranked defense.

Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic delivered a devastating 1-2 punch for the Bulls with 23 and 24 points, respectively.

And they did so from the perimeter as well as from inside the paint with the Celtics offering little to no resistance or playing with any sense of force needed to win.

After trailing most of the game, the Celtics were down 78-63 going into the fourth quarter in part because of the monster game Portis (19 points on 8-for-11 shooting) was having for the Bulls through the first three quarters of play.

And as the game got more lopsided in the fourth, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens emptied his bench only for the team’s end-of-the-bench reserves literally pick up where the regulars left off in what was the worst loss of the season; coming against the worst team in the NBA nonetheless.

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Celtics' Aron Baynes (hand) upgraded to questionable for Raptors game

Celtics' Aron Baynes (hand) upgraded to questionable for Raptors game

BOSTON -- The Boston Celtics’ defense has been on a downward spiral lately, but they may get a much-needed boost with the possible return of Aron Baynes tomorrow night against the Toronto Raptors. 

Out with a left fourth metacarpal fracture injury, Baynes is listed as questionable for Wednesday's game for the first time since suffering the injury in December. 

Baynes, whose defensive rating a year ago (96.6) was tops in the NBA, has once again been among the league’s better defenders this season with a defensive rating this season of 97.3 which is tops in the NBA among players who have appeared in at least 25 games and average at least 14 minutes like Baynes.

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In those 25 games, Baynes has averaged 5.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 32.4 percent from 3-point range. 

Along with Baynes, Marcus Smart (illness) is also questionable for tomorrow night's game. 

Smart did not play in Boston’s 109-102 loss at Brooklyn on Monday. 

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Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was critical of the team's younger players after a recent loss to the Orlando Magic, and one Celtic legend thinks the veteran point guard's comments were justified. 

Paul Pierce, who spent 15 years with the Celtics and helped deliver Boston a championship in 2008, explained Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump" why he had no issues with Irving's comments. 

“However he has to do it to wake them up,” Pierce said. “Kyrie understands what it takes to win a championship, so he’s trying to show them there’s an everyday process to this.

“When I won a championship and we came back the next year, it was like, ‘don’t get bored with the process’ or ‘understand what the process is.’ And that’s what he’s trying to teach them. And that’s why they’re inconsistent, because they don’t understand that. It doesn’t start just on the court during games. It’s in practice, it’s the little things … It’s the little things that they have to follow — the details that it’s going to take for them to win a championship, and Kyrie’s trying to show them that.”

The Celtics have not met expectations so far this season and enter Wednesday's showdown against the Toronto Raptors with a 25-17 record. A lot of the frustration involving this team stems from its inconsistency. The C's have lost three consecutive games, but won four straight games before that. An eight-game win streak in December was followed by a three-game skid.

The Celtics' season ultimately will be judged on their playoff run, but they won't enjoy much success in April, May or June unless they find an identity and every player buys in. Irving, as one of the most experienced players on the team and one of two Celtics with a championship ring, is the right man to lead that process.

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