Celtics

Celtics heavy favorites to break losing streak tonight in Phoenix

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Celtics heavy favorites to break losing streak tonight in Phoenix

The Boston Celtics (6-4) will be looking to break a two-game losing streak halfway through their five-game road trip on Thursday when they visit the Phoenix Suns (2-8). The Celtics are listed as 8.5-point favorites against the Suns based on the NBA odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Phoenix owns the worst record in the Western Conference.

Boston is coming off a 115-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Monday as a 1.5-point betting underdog after falling to the Indiana Pacers 102-101 as a 3.5-point favorite to start the trip on Saturday. The Celtics have failed to cover three of their last four games to drop to 4-6 against the spread overall this season.

At Denver, Boston's leading scorer Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 31 points but was critical of counterpart Jamal Murray, who attempted a 3-pointer in the final seconds in an effort to reach 50 points. Murray missed and finished with a career-high 48 points, and now another former Kentucky player -- Devin Booker -- will be looking to carry his team against the Celtics.

Booker's Suns have lost eight of their last nine games SU after routing the Dallas Mavericks 121-100 as 2.5-point home underdogs in the season opener back on October 17. He missed three games recently due to a hamstring injury but has returned to average 21 points as Phoenix has covered two of its last three, including a 102-100 home victory versus the Memphis Grizzlies as a four-point underdog on Saturday.

Despite Booker's presence, the Suns have seen the total go UNDER in each of their last four games following a streak of three straight overs. They scored a season-low point total in a 104-82 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, with UNDER 221 cashing easily. Meanwhile, Boston has seen the total go OVER in three of four after playing to four UNDER results in a row.

The Celtics remain the second choice on the odds to win the NBA title at +700 (wager $100 to win $700), behind just the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors. Phoenix is on the other side of the spectrum from Boston at +50000, ahead of only the Cleveland Cavaliers.

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The Camera Guys: Some coaching pointers for Brad Stevens

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The Camera Guys: Some coaching pointers for Brad Stevens

Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens stopped by the Red Sox spring training facility Sunday in Fort Myers, Fla., so you know NBC Sports Boston's Camera Guys had to get a few minutes with the man of the hour.

Stevens, of course, is an Indiana native. And he's a master at running set plays. So you know Glenn Gleason and Bill "Moose" Messina had to ask him if he'd ever consider installing the iconic "Picket Fence" play run by coach Norman Dale in the movie "Hoosiers".

"I’ve heard of the play," Stevens told Moose. "I need to go back and look at it closer."

Not to worry, Brad.

"We’re tape eaters," Glenn interjected. "We can get it done for you!"

The Celtics resume their regular season post-All-Star break on Thursday with a huge tilt in Milwaukee against the Bucks, who sport the NBA's best record. Tip off is 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston.

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Brad Stevens visits Red Sox camp and reflects on Boston coaching fraternity

Brad Stevens visits Red Sox camp and reflects on Boston coaching fraternity

If Boston were a college campus, the hottest fraternity to join right now would be the coaching one. The chapter president, of course, is Bill Belichick, but right behind him in the ranks are Brad Stevens and Alex Cora.

Which is why for the second year in a row Stevens made his way to Fort Meyers to watch batting practice and bullpen sessions while picking the brains of his Red Sox equivalent Alex Cora and FOB (friend of Bill), Tony LaRussa.

“It’s one of the great benefits of being the Celtics coach. You get a chance to meet these people and learn a great deal from them,” Stevens said. “Whether it’s those guys or {Bill} Belichick or Bruce {Cassidy} or whoever. We’re really blessed to have a lot of people to pick the minds of in Boston.”

The way Stevens sees things, he learns as much or more from the men who lead teams in sports other than basketball. 

“You are all dealing with the same things on a day to day basis. The challenges of a team. The challenges of being the best that you can be.”

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Cora views the opportunity in a similar light. He feels he can learn a little something from everyone that in turn makes his job a little easier in a tough market like Boston. 

A place that becomes a lot tougher when you aren’t cruising to a team record 108 wins in the regular season and a World Series title. 

“It’s not that I’m expecting them, {bad stretches} but when it comes, I know how the city reacts to it,” Cora explained, “and how the media reacts to it. It’s a good learning experience.”

Although Cora marveled at how Bill Belichick can stand in front of a room of reporters and say almost nothing, Cora conceded with a laugh he doesn’t quite have that clout yet.

“I can’t do it yet with you guys,” Cora admitted, “But it’s pretty cool he is the way he is with the media. But then you talk to him and he’s a real person and he’s funny and obviously very smart.”

At the end of the day both Cora and Stevens understand that every coach and manager in town is aiming for the same thing. 

“I think that ultimately we all want to improve,” Stevens said. “We all want to get better.”

CELTICS NOTES

Stevens also touched on a few basketball topics on Sunday afternoon. 

On Jayson Tatum’s All-Star Game Challenge win:

“Yeah, he made a big shot, from deep. That challenge always seems to come to down to whether you make that shot or not. Jayson did a great job finishing it with a little flair. That’s what the All-Star game is all about.”

Anthony Davis comments:

“I can’t talk about all that stuff. As far as just generally in regards to rumors, we do talk about as a team, focusing on what we can control. Danny does a great job of handling all that.”

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