Celtics

Celtics go down again, losing streak at four in a row now

Celtics go down again, losing streak at four in a row now

BOSTON -- NBA teams love to be streaking this time of year, but this isn’t quite what the Boston Celtics had in mind. 

Boston fell 97-92 to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday, extending the Celtics’ losing skid to what is now a season-high four in a row. 

Portland (38-23) came in with the best record (17-4) against Eastern Conference teams this season, and seemed well on its way to extending that dominance on Wednesday. 

But Boston didn’t go down without a fight, something that we haven’t seen as much of in recent defeats. 

Trailing 91-81 with 3:08 to play, Boston went on a 7-2 run capped off by an Al Horford hook shot that cut the Blazers’ lead to 93-88. 

Boston continued to try and fight its way back into the game, and had a chance to make it a one-possession game but a Marcus Smart shot was off the mark and the Blazers quickly capitalized on the miss with a lay-up by Damian Lillard that made it a 95-88 game with 36.6 seconds to play. 

A 3-pointer by Kyrie Irving made it a 95-92 game. 

Forced to foul, Lillard sank a pair of free throws with 11.8 seconds to play, which led to another Boston time-out.

At that point, it was too little too late for the Celtics (37-25).

☘️BLAZERS 97, CELTICS 92

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s five-point loss to the Blazers.

STARS

Damian Lillard: The Blazers’ All-Star guard had a strong game as he finished with 33 points, seven rebounds and four assists. 

Kyrie Irving: It was another strong night scoring the ball for Irving, who led the Celtics with 31 points on 14-for-24 shooting.

STUDS

Jaylen Brown: He was the one of the few sparks off the bench for Boston, finishing with a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Maurice Harkless: He has had his ups and downs this season, but he was a major factor in Portland getting the win as he finished with a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

DUDS

Rebounding: The Celtics were in an uphill battle most of the game against a Blazers team that has been among the NBA’s leaders in rebounding percentage this season. For the night, Portland wound up winning the battle of the boards by a decisive 48-41  margin. 

Marcus Morris: It was another rough night shooting the ball for Marcus Morris, who had eight points but did so on 3-for-10 shooting from the field.  

Celtics’ 3-point shooting: It was a brutal night from beyond the 3-point line for the Celtics, shooting just 17.8 percent (5-for-28) from behind the 3-point arc.

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Celtics' Saturday woes continue with latest weekend loss to bad team

Celtics' Saturday woes continue with latest weekend loss to bad team

Forget losing out on home-court advantage in the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Boston Celtics' biggest concern should be avoiding having to play on Saturdays.

The Celtics suffered a baffling loss to a mediocre team Saturday night, allowing the 10th-seed Charlotte Hornets to reel off a 30-5 run en route to a 124-117 loss.

If you're feeling a little déjà vu, you're onto something. That ugly 86-point effort at home against the Utah Jazz in November? It came on a Saturday night. A perplexing 10-point road loss to the tanking Chicago Bulls in late February? Also a Saturday night.

And that fateful defeat at the hands of the Orlando Magic that prompted Kyrie Irving to question the Celtics' lack of experience? You guessed it: Saturday night.

The Celtics have played an unusually high number of Saturday games this season -- 17, their most since the 1955-56 season -- and have fared quite poorly. They're now 8-9 in Saturday games, with seven of those eight wins coming against teams currently out of the playoff picture.

Here's a look:

Wins: at NYK, at DET, at MIN, at CHI, at MEM, at ATL, at LAL, vs. ATL
Losses: at IND, vs. UTA, at DAL, at DET, at ORL, vs. GST, vs. LAC, at CHI, at CHA

In Boston's defense, it's a pretty brutal schedule to navigate: 13 of those 17 games have been on the road (it will be 14 of 18 when the C's visit Brooklyn next Saturday), and five were on the second night of a back-to-back.

But here's what makes this trend so baffling: The Celtics thrived in these situations in recent seasons.

In fact, the C's entered the 2018-19 campaign with wins in 17 of their last 20 Saturday regular-season games. They won 9 of 11 Saturday contests in 2017-18 and dropped just one Saturday game in nine tries in 2016-17.

This season has been a completely different story for the enigmatic Celtics, whose lowest winning percentage is in Monday games (5-7) but who shoot worse from the floor (40.6 percent) and have more losses on Saturday than any other day of the week.

Of course, this could all be a coincidence. Boston easily could "flip the switch" and throw its Saturday struggles out the window come playoff time.

But like many of us, it appears the 2018-19 Celtics don't enjoy working on Saturday night.

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Brad Stevens blames himself for Terry Rozier's errant 3-pointer vs. Hornets

Brad Stevens blames himself for Terry Rozier's errant 3-pointer vs. Hornets

Terry Rozier made a pretty questionable decision late in the Boston Celtics' loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

With under 20 seconds remaining and the Celtics trailing by three, Rozier drove the lane on a semi-fast break with only Hornets guard Devonte Graham between him and the hoop. But rather than pass or attempt a shot in the paint, Rozier dribbled out to the perimeter to take (and miss) a contested 3-pointer. Charlotte grabbed the rebound to seal Boston's fate: a 124-117 loss in a game the C's led by 18 points.

But rather than admit Rozier made a bone-headed play, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens insisted he deserved blame for failing to call a timeout as the play broke down.

"They're face-guarding Kyrie (Irving) at half-court," Stevens said in his postgame interview, as aired on NBC Sports Boston. "At the end of the day, that should not be on Terry. If anything, that should be on me. So, I don't blame him for that. 

"He attacked. The clock was running down, we're down three. We've seen him hit shots like that. But at the same time, if there's a finger to point to, it would be at me because we had a timeout left."

While he let Rozier off the hook for that play, Stevens still was critical of his team's shot selection during a massive 30-5 Hornets run in the fourth quarter.

"We had an 18-point lead ... and then we just started shooting shots we weren't shooting prior to, and our defense got a little more attackable," Stevens said. " ... Whenever that happens, I think you can look at it and say, 'We all could have done better.' "

It was a diplomatic answer from Stevens, who has had plenty to gripe about over a six-game stretch in which Boston has allowed 114 points or more in every contest.

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