Celtics

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

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AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.

AL HORFORD VS ANTHONY DAVIS

It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.

RAJON RONDO

We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.

FREE THROW FACTOR

Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.

FAST STARTS OF LATE

One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.

TATUM IN SELECT COMPANY

Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge has got the jokes...aimed at Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown

Danny Ainge was busy on Twitter late last night poking a little fun at a couple of his players.

Ainge, the Celtics president of basketball operations, wondered where the defense was in a video of "Scary" Terry Rozier playing in a pickup game with Wizards guard John Wall and other NBAers. 

A little good-natured payback for Rozier's FaceTime interruption of Ainge's drafting of Robert Williams back in June?

A few minutes before his Rozier tweet, Ainge saw a video tweeted by Cal athletic director Jim Knowlton of Jaylen Brown showing his skills on the piano at the Berkeley campus' Sproul Plaza. Brown spent a year at Cal before being drafted by Boston in 2016.

Ainge couldn't resist a jab at Brown's ball-handling skills. 

So, Celtics players, post those Twitter videos at your own risk because the boss is watching.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

 

Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

Anything is Podable Episode Two: New owner, new era

It’s not very often that a marquee franchise like the Boston Celtics is sold, but in 2002, control of the green and white changed hands.

Episode Two of NBC Sports Boston’s “Anything is Podable” looks at the first several years of the Wyc Grousbeck era and how the new ownership group began to lay the building blocks of the next great Celtics team.

“Mortgaged the house to put down the deposit and started to figure out whom I could call to raise all this money,” said Grousbeck in an exclusive interview for the podcast series. “But as of that moment, I knew I was going to be the controlling owner of the Boston Celtics, or I was going to die trying. I mean, that was going to happen.”

While the Celtics’ transformation from pretender to contender took several years, Grousbeck and his team were committed to giving fans the team’s seventeenth championship.

“When you come into the Celtics, you can’t come into it for money, and we never did” added Grousbeck. “I named the company ‘Banner 17’ because I wanted to win the 17th banner and hopefully more.”

The podcast continues on to address the coaching transition from Jim O’Brien to Doc Rivers, as well as Danny Ainge’s first few seasons as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations.

“I’m not exaggerating if I say 10-15 different coaches and ex-coaches told me not to take the Boston job,” said Rivers. “Too much pressure, they’re going to be bad for a long time, not sure if you and Danny will work well together. I mean, I just got a lot of calls.”

“As excited as I was for Doc, you know, Wyc and Pags, they wanted to sign him before we left the house,” joked Ainge. “They were so excited. They were enamored with Doc.”

With Ainge and Rivers now in charge of all things on the court, Grousbeck and his team were on their way to fulfilling their goal.

Anything is Podable is a ten-part series diving into the story of the 2008 Celtics and their championship season, with exclusive, never-before-heard interviews with team executives, former players, and media members.

Narrated by Kyle Draper, it’s the perfect way for Celtics fans to pass time this offseason and get excited for 2018-19, a season in which the Celtics have as good a chance at raising their 18th championship banner as they’ve had since that magical 2008 season.

Fans can subscribe to the podcast through the link below and check out the other nine episodes for a look at this exclusive series.